Acumen Fund and Social Entrepreneurship in Action

Written on September 20, 2006 by Max Oliva in Social Entrepreneurship

Max Oliva, Associate Director of IE’s Social Impact Management
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Acumen Fund, a non-profit global venture fund which uses entrepreneurial approaches to solve the problems of global poverty, has just announced today a $1.6 million investment in Drishtee.Com, a rural Information and Communications Technology (ICT) platform operating more than 1000 kiosks in India that provide computer and English education, e-governance and digital photography services.
Drishtee will use the financing from Acumen Fund to scale from just over 700 kiosks in six states to over 30,000 kiosks in 23 states, primarily in rural villages, as well as add four new services for the poor.
More than any other factor, lack of quality healthcare has the distinction of making the maximum number of rural villagers slip below the poverty line. A recent Disha survey found that close to 12 percent of rural income is spent on healthcare and nearly 60 percent of this population takes loans at annual interest rates of 60-120 percent in order to pay for prolonged treatment or hospitalization. Acumen Fund’s investment is enabling Drishtee to develop health services including access to quality medicine and health information.
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In addition to the commitment of financial resources, Acumen Fund is also advising Drishtee on managerial and operational issues. They will use financial, social, and operational metrics to measure the investment’s sustainability, potential for scale and social impact. The financial metrics that will determine the investment’s success include total increase in gross and net revenues and income increases for kiosk owners and their employees; operational metrics include the strength of the management team, increased penetration of kiosks into rural areas and the increased availability of services in rural areas; and social metrics being analyzed include increased focus on rural markets by the private sector and improved quality of health, income, and education levels as a result of services and information available through the kiosks.
This is what I call social entrepreneurship and synchronicity in action. Acumen Fund, which is one of the few NGO’s associated with google.org is having an impact which should be benchmarked and learned from. Congratulations and the best of lucks on this new endeavour.


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