Acumen Fund Announces New Investments in Pakistan to Build Scalable Businesses that Serve the Poor

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Investments aim to increase milk productivity of livestock through breed improvement and provide scalable, sustainable low-cost housing to the poor

Jassar Farms, as Acumen Fund's first investment within the dairy and livestock space, will certainly bring valuable insights regarding the challenges and possibilities of increasing the productivity and income streams of poor dairy farmers

Acumen Fund, a nonprofit venture firm addressing poverty in South Asia and East Africa, announced today two new investments in Pakistan:

  •     Ansaar Management Company (AMC), a low-cost housing development and management company aiming to scale a low-cost housing project throughout Pakistan: a $1,100,000 equity investment; and
  •     Jassar Farms Private Ltd, a corporate dairy farming business focused on dairy and breed improvement of poor livestock farmers aiming to increase milk productivity: a $1,420,000 equity and debt investment.

"With the recent investments in AMC and Jassar Farms, Acumen Fund continues its commitment to supporting innovative entrepreneurs in Pakistan who aim to solve the challenges of global poverty," said Acumen Fund CEO Jacqueline Novogratz. "Acumen Fund seeks to change the development paradigm, from a focus on top-down aid to a focus on investing in entrepreneurs because we believe that ultimately they are the ones who will provide solutions to poverty."

Acumen Fund began investing in Pakistan in 2002 with a focus on the housing sector, providing slum-dwellers with affordable legal housing and infrastructure alternatives, as well as innovative financial services that allowed low-income clients to improve their homes and supplement their incomes. Acumen Fund has since expanded its focus over the years in an effort to address in a more comprehensive manner the critical issues keeping the majority of the population of 166 million people in poverty.

"AMC and Jassar Farms have the potential to make a large impact in their respective industries in Pakistan," said Acumen Fund Pakistan Director Aun Rahman. "AMC builds on lessons from another Acumen investment, Saiban, and will provide us with yet another opportunity to spur the growth of a formal affordable housing industry in Pakistan, while Jassar Farms will establish locally a world-class production facility to improve livestock breeding, which will, over time, increase milk yields and increase incomes of farming families."

With increased rural-urban migration, low income populations in urban centers are expected to double in the next 15 years; AMC's model and commitment to scalability serves to ease the strain on the existing housing shortage in Pakistan. Founded by former Acumen Fund Fellow Jawad Aslam, AMC will take the critical lessons and business model of Saiban, an existing Acumen Fund investment, and provide to people earning $62-$250 per month ($2-8 per day) with access to plots of developed land in several settlements at affordable rates, thus providing them with secure residential tenure and public utilities in areas where they would normally have no real access to property or such services. By focusing on scalability and sustainability through a for-profit, low-cost approach, AMC has the potential to be the first commercial, low-cost housing company, with the initial objective of reaching over 2,500 lower income families in Pakistan through its first housing project.

As for Pakistan's agriculture sector, over 75% of livestock owners are poor farmers owning less than four cows, and face a severe problem of low production rates. Despite this low productivity, Pakistan is the fifth largest milk producer in the world, yet still, it takes five Pakistani cows to produce as much milk as one cow in the US or Europe. The main factors hindering better milk productivity by smallholder farmers are a lack of focus on breed and gene-pool improvement of cows, poor farm management, and the use of the low-quality feed. Jassar Farms will work to improve breeding through artificial insemination using quality bull semen.

"Jassar Farms, as Acumen Fund's first investment within the dairy and livestock space, will certainly bring valuable insights regarding the challenges and possibilities of increasing the productivity and income streams of poor dairy farmers," added Rahman. "AMC will provide insights on how to better scale and sustain an affordable housing model not only in Pakistan but around the world. We look forward to sharing our insights with the entire social sector."

To learn more about Acumen Fund and follow the progress of its investments in AMC and Jassar Farms, visit http://www.acumenfund.org.

About Acumen Fund
Acumen Fund is a nonprofit venture fund that invests in market-oriented approaches to deliver critical, affordable goods and services to the world's poor. Acumen Fund focuses on the convergence of philanthropic capital and business expertise to produce sustainable, scalable enterprises that reach underserved markets and increase access to the opportunities of the global economy. For more information on Acumen Fund's activities and investments, visit http://www.acumenfund.org and http://www.acumenfundblog.org.

Acumen Fund in Pakistan
Acumen Fund's work in Pakistan supports market-based approaches that provide low-income communities with access to affordable health, housing, water and energy products and services. Acumen Fund has been investing in Pakistan since 2002, initially concentrating on the housing sector with investments in affordable housing and infrastructure services for former squatters and slum-dwellers, as well as innovative financial services to allow low-income borrowers to improve households and incomes. As of June 30, 2009, Acumen Fund Pakistan's portfolio totaled $7.7 million in committed investments in enterprises focusing on drip irrigation, micro insurance, housing, peri-urban health clinics and other critical needs.

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