acumen fund & jacqueline novogratz

July 13, 2010

Seth Godin recently gave away a free ebook “Insubordinate”, in which he talks of “linchpins” (yeah, I didn’t know what they were either). In it, he calls Jacqueline Novogratz his idol, and mentions the name of her organization, “Acumen Fund“. That name seemed familiar – I found out that it was one of the websites I checked out after reading this article of STEP. I checked out the Acumen Fund blog, to have it bookmarked, and found out that she gave a talk recently, right here in Pakistan!

I’ll just quote her wikipedia page about Acumen Fund: “Acumen Fund seeks to prove that small amounts of philanthropic capital, combined with large doses of business acumen, can build thriving enterprises that serve vast numbers of the poor.” The idea is pretty cool I think, and it makes sense to me, you know. As kids we’re always taught of the importance and value of charity, but as of the past couple of years I’ve diverged a little. I’ve found in my own experiences that there are no shortcuts, that you get out of something only what you put in. And charity, or at least blind charity, doesn’t mean much. I mean, you’re just giving away money in a blink. You may argue that the money itself has value, and you’re right, but the only effort involved here is to convince yourself to give it away, and that’s not much effort at all. It’s just a decision, that’s it. You think about it for a while, you decide, and that’s it, your work is done. It involves no effort, no pain. So charity alone is not the answer, you need to do something extra to help the unfortunate, you have to get involved, spend time, break a sweat… only then will the fruit hold well. And if Acumen Fund is doing what it claims to do, its doing good. Its putting in effort by visiting the poor, getting to know them personally, and help them set up small businesses…not just throwing money at them. Jacqueline says the poor need to be able to make their own decisions, solve their problems by themselves and we simply need to aid them in it. She calls it “dignity”, and I think I agree.

The STEP article also mentioned of Micro Drip. Not only is micro drip associated with Acumen Fund, but Jacqueline also talked a bit about its founder, Dr. Sono Khangarani. Now how cool is that? Guess we have more intelligent good people around than I knew.

So here’s her the talk she gave:-

On a side note I’m pretty sick of all the popularity TED has acheived. I mean, its a good endeavor and all that, but they way people are going around sharing talks on facebook you’d’ve thought we’re all standing it a huge-ass pit of world-changers and a revolution is about to begin. It’s not…unless the effort is actually put in. TED talks have simply become “fashionable”, they’ve become “in”, they’ve gotten hip. I loathe that.


3 Responses to “acumen fund & jacqueline novogratz”

  1. Thanks for this thoughtful post and I’m so glad to see that Jacqueline and Acumen Fund’s work was inspiring to you! I am working in Acumen’s NY office for the summer and felt just as moved the first time I came across this approach to development.

    With an office in Karachi and an active community in Pakistan, you are welcome to join us and meet other students and young professionals who share your opinions on the value of dignity and choice. Come check out our community site:


  2. I’m going to be speaking at a TED event tomorrow. This post just – put me down. Aw fuck.

    Gotta come up with an excuse and not show up.

  3. aerial_meds Says:

    Really? Just one paragraph – a mini-bash – and you’re out? Haha…

    Wait. How the heck is it that you’re speaking at one of these events anyway?

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