Changing the way the world tackles poverty


Organization Name
Changing the way the world tackles poverty
English-Language Website URL
Type of organization
Year Founded
Lead Photo For Profile
HQ Location: City, Country
New York, USA
HQ Mailing Address
40 Worth Street, Suite 303 New York, NY, 10013, USA

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.


Sectors of Activity

We started Acumen to change the way the world tackles poverty; to influence traditional charity by moving from a top-down approach toward one that’s bottom-up: approaching low-income people as part of the solution, seeing investment as an important tool for change, and insisting on stronger metrics of accountability.

Today, there is a vibrant and growing “impact investing” sector with hundreds of funds and billions of dollars being invested in companies tackling some of the biggest social issues of our time. Along the way, we also discovered that without the right talent, these companies fail. The types of companies we invest in need a different kind of leadership, equipped with the moral imagination and resilience to meet the complex challenges of our time. That’s why Acumen also invests in building a global ecosystem of leaders who share common values, have the hard skills to produce results, and possess a deep unwavering commitment to creating a more inclusive world. Finally, we believe that no organization can do this alone, which is why we invest in the spread of ideas.

Our work supporting companies and leaders forms the foundation of everything we do. When we gain insight in these areas, we invest in sharing them with the world. To learn more about the type of companies and leaders we believe are needed to change the way the world tackles poverty, read our manifesto.

Country (or countries) where active
Ghana, India, Kenya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Ethipia