Nairobi, Kenya (PRWEB) July 28, 2011
Acumen Fund, a nonprofit venture firm addressing poverty in South Asia and East Africa, launches its inaugural East Africa Fellows Program this evening in Nairobi. Announced earlier this month, the program provides world-class leadership training for young East African social entrepreneurs. Supported by KCB Bank Foundation and Edmond de Rothschild Foundation, the evening also celebrates the local publishing of Acumen Fund CEO Jacqueline Novogratz’s book, The Blue Sweater, by Longhorn Books. The program includes presentations by Jacqueline Novogratz, Martin Odour-Otieno, CEO of KCB Bank, the East Africa Fellows, and Ron Garan, US astronaut based on the International Space Station.
This event marks an important milestone for Acumen Fund, as its presence and leadership programs scale around the world. The growing portfolio of investments in social enterprises in East Africa, the launch of the East Africa Fellows Program and the local publishing of The Blue Sweater are evidence of the sustainability and importance of Acumen Fund’s regional offices.
“Our regional offices are our greatest source of innovation,” said Jacqueline Novogratz, CEO of Acumen Fund. “We’re thrilled to see the East Africa Fellows Program training leaders in the region, and Longhorn’s publication of The Blue Sweater will help us continue building a strong local community. It’s inspiring to see the energy coming out of East Africa as we move towards ensuring that our regional offices become local institutions in and of themselves.”
Biju Mohandas, Acumen Fund’s East Africa Director remarks, “The growth in our work in East Africa over the last few years has been inspiring. We have more than tripled our investments approved or under management in the region to $17 Million. The East Africa Fellows Program dovetails well with that growth and signals our commitment to helping exceptional regional leaders with not just early stage investment capital, but also training and support.”
“I am so excited for this class of regional fellows and what it means to the world,” said Suraj Sudhakar, Acumen Fund’s East Africa Fellows Manager. Suraj joined Acumen Fund as a 2009 Global Fellow. After the fellowship, Suraj wanted to continue his work in the sector and subsequently worked with youth in the slums of Nairobi on multiple innovative leadership development initiatives. Some of these such as the TEDx Kibera have won accolades at the global stage for the youth and Suraj.
Acumen Fund has invested over $17 million USD in East Africa since 2001, focusing on a wide range of sustainable, scalable businesses—in agriculture, housing, health, water and energy—that use market-based approaches to deliver products and services to millions of rural and urban poor. Recent additions to Acumen Fund East Africa’s portfolio include Juhudi Kilimo Company Limited (Juhudi Kilimo), a Kenyan microfinance company that provides loan products to smallholder farmers for productive agricultural assets, and Gulu Agricultural Development Company (GADC), a for-profit cotton ginning company in Uganda.
About Acumen Fund
Acumen Fund is a pioneering not-for-profit venture fund that is changing how the world addresses poverty. Acumen Fund invests patient capital in business models that deliver critical, affordable goods and services to the world’s poor, improving the lives of millions. Since its founding in 2001, Acumen Fund has invested more than $40 million in companies that provide access to water, health, energy, housing and agriculture inputs to low-income consumers in South Asia and East Africa. For more information on Acumen Fund’s activities and investments, visit http://www.acumenfund.org and http://www.acumenfundblog.org.
Acumen Fund in East Africa
Acumen Fund has been investing in East Africa since 2001, focusing on a wide range of sustainable, scalable businesses that use market-based approaches to deliver products and services to millions of rural and urban poor. Investments made by Acumen Fund East Africa in local enterprises include a manufacturer of insecticide-treated bednets that are providing protection against malaria to millions of Africans; public sanitation facilities in Kenya’s underserved urban centers; microfranchises for quality healthcare and drug distribution; and a microfinance institution that is creating affordable, legal housing for former slum-dwellers. Leveraging strong relationships with local academic institutions and businesses as well as the global Acumen Fund network, Acumen Fund East Africa is actively exploring further investments in healthcare services, as well as potential investments in housing and energy services.