News Release

Philanthropists Unite with Local Entrepreneurs in Egypt and Pakistan

Acumen Fund Launches New Philanthropic Portfolio to Advance Local Innovation
Nov 08, 2002

NEW YORK CITY, NY., November 8, 2002 - Acumen Fund, a non-profit organization linking philanthropists with initiatives that accelerate positive global change, today announced the establishment of its newest portfolio, Economic and Civic Enterprise, targeted at supporting entrepreneurs in Egypt and Pakistan who provide economic opportunity and voice to the poor.

Acumen Fund identifies innovations with high potential to solve the demanding issues of our time, whether they operate in the non-profit or for-profit sectors. They then support these innovations with financial and technical assistance through their network of connections. Acumen Fund portfolio managers monitor results and report regularly to their network of investors.

The Economic and Civic Enterprise Portfolio has currently raised $1.1 million from several individuals and foundations, with a goal of $2.0 million by the end of 2002. Leveraging the venture capital model of financing through seed funding, providing financial management and organizational support, some of the projects include:

  • Working with a women's finance organization in Lahore, Pakistan to enable woman to borrow easier; financial organization to grow over three years, with the goal of expanding the reach from 17,000 to 50,000 low-income borrowers;
  • Supporting a farm initiative in Cairo, Egypt; working with cooperatives of farmers, providing an economic model for socially responsible business;
  • Developing a housing program to provide access to land ownership and public utilities for poor squatters in Karachi, Pakistan.

"To influence positive global change, our Economic and Civic Enterprise Portfolio supports economic opportunity, civic participation and voice," said Jacqueline Novogratz, president and CEO of the Acumen Fund. "The portfolio bridges global gaps by strategically connecting resources -- knowledge, capital and markets -- with local entrepreneurship."

Acumen Fund was created in April of 2001 with financial investments from Cisco Systems and Cisco Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation and several key individual investors. The goal of Acumen Fund is to maximize social impact by identifying and building relationships with non-profit and for-profit entrepreneurs. Acumen Fund links these pioneering leaders to the organization's network of investors and experts while measuring and reporting on progress, lessons and impact to partners. Acumen Fund's initial portfolio, Health Technology Changing Lives, launched in December of 2001 and has had significant success, investing in organizations and innovators that radically lower the costs and barriers to healthcare for the underserved majority in Africa and South Asia.

"Cisco Systems focuses on lending assistance on targeted issues through financial grants, resources, time and technology in worldwide areas of need," said Tae Yoo, Vice President of Corporate Philanthropy Cisco Systems, Inc. and the Cisco Systems Foundation. "Cisco's goal in co-founding Acumen Fund is to create a platform to address timely global issues. Acumen Fund links entrepreneurs, investors and progressive thinkers to enhance economic opportunity for the under served and to increase civic participation."

"We view Acumen Fund, and its latest portfolio direction, as a critical initiative focusing on strategic change," said Gordon Conway, President, Rockefeller Foundation. "Rockefeller Foundation sees the importance of connecting new innovations and vehicles for philanthropy to the intellectual capital, experience and networks of longstanding institutions. Given the increasing importance of networks, Acumen Fund is fostering the development of global philanthropy."

The Event

The Economic and Civic Enterprise Portfolio will be launched on Sunday November 10th at an invite-only event in New York City. The Honorable Bill Bradley, former senator representing the state of New Jersey and current managing director of Allen & Company, Incorporated, will be the chairperson for the dinner event. The event will also include a keynote given by three times Pulitzer Prize winner and New York Times foreign affairs columnist Thomas L. Friedman who will speak on the impact of globalization.

About Acumen Fund

Acumen Fund is a 501(c)(3) public charity that connects individual, foundation and corporate philanthropists with organizations that are developing innovative solutions to social problems around the world. Acumen Fund brings together the resources, ideas, and people needed for these organizations to create long-term, measurable impact. For more information, see

About Cisco Systems Foundation

The Cisco Systems Foundation was established in 1997 by a gift from Cisco Systems, Inc. As Corporate Philanthropy's primary cash investment vehicle, the Foundation provides grants to organizations with long-lasting local or global impact. More information on the Cisco Systems Foundation is available at