What We Do

Acumen raises charitable donations to invest in companies, leaders, and ideas that are changing the way the world tackles poverty.

Global Fellows Program

A full-time one-year fellowship. 10-12 individuals from all over the world spend two months in New York undergoing intensive leadership training, followed by nine months working with one of Acumen’s portfolio companies.


Regional Fellows Program

A one-year fellowship currently offered in East Africa, Pakistan or India. 20 individuals in each region participate in intensive seminars and training exercises to improve their capacity to execute on a social change project of their choosing. Participants remain in their full-time jobs while in the program.



We created +Acumen to give people a meaningful way to “add Acumen” to their lives. +Acumen makes our leadership curriculum available to anyone, globally. Learn through online courses, volunteer through our chapters, or apply to lead a new chapter in your city.



“Just start. Don’t wait for perfection. Just start and let the work teach you.” –David Lawrence

Acumen was incorporated on April 1, 2001, with seed capital from the Rockefeller Foundation, Cisco Systems Foundation and three individual philanthropists. Our desire was to transform the world of philanthropy by looking at all human beings not as distant strangers, but as members of a single, global community where everyone had the opportunity to build a life of dignity.

The organization we envisioned wouldn’t simply make grants, but would invest in entrepreneurs who had the capability to bring sustainable solutions to big problems of poverty. We would create a venture capital fund for the poor, supported by a global community of philanthropists willing to take a bet on a new approach. We would call our donors “Partners” and treat them like investors because our approach would be to invest together in long-term change. We enlisted twenty Founding Partners, whose generosity transformed Acumen from a vision to a reality. At the time, we knew we didn’t have any answers, so we simply started with a commitment to learn from our mistakes and let the work teach us.

Learn more about our origins

OUR People

“Just start. Don’t wait for perfection. Just start and let the work teach you.” –David Lawrence

Acumen’s dedicated team works across its five global offices in Accra, Karachi, Mumbai, Nairobi, and New York to support our work investing in companies, leaders, and ideas. But, it doesn’t stop there. We think of our entire global community — staff, board, advisors, and partners — as part of the Acumen team, sharing a common vision, a common set of values, and an unwavering commitment to standing with the poor.

Together, we balance generosity with accountability, humility with audacity, and listening with leadership. Above all, we value respect and integrity.

Meet The Team