The Edmond de Rothschild Foundations

Acumen Fund is a philanthropic investment fund that provides practical solutions to the problems of access to water, energy, housing and medical care. It is unique in offering training, development and financial management for first-rate social entrepreneurs. Acumen Fund’s mission was inspired by a simple observation: philanthropic generosity alone cannot put an end to poverty. The fund trains leading social entrepreneurs to design and implement creative solutions to the problems of access to water, energy, housing and healthcare.

Acumen Fund develops an innovative and profitable model for social development

The fund’s investment decisions are based on reasonable expectations and medium-term returns. Projects must meet three key criteria:

•  make a significant social impact;
•  attain a degree of financial autonomy;
•  target a large market, as defined by the Base of the Pyramid rules.
   This concept helps companies identify the market potential of low-
   income demographics so that they can adapt their offer to suit their
   target population.

Acumen Fund invests exclusively in projects that will generate revenue and return on investment within 5-7 years, while also keeping an eye on their sustainability in the long term. Profits generated at the end of a project are reinvested in the fund and allocated to other projects.

The Foundations support a unique training program for social entrepreneurs

At the heart of any successful project is the entrepreneur-manager. For this reason, Acumen Fund created the Acumen Fund Global Fellowship Program. Each year, high-potential candidates are selected for a one-year program, which includes three months of training in New York City followed by an assignment during which they contribute to developing the various businesses that Acumen Fund invests in.

The goal is for participants to develop professional skills in a wide variety of areas connected to social entrepreneurship: finance, marketing, communication, leadership and understanding the specific features of markets composed of low-income populations. Training is completed with theoretical learning based on humanistic values.

Following the initial training period, Fellows are assigned to an investment project where they can contribute their knowledge to a project for nine months to help ensure its lasting success.

Training for social entrepreneurs in developing countries

Following the success of the Global Fellowship Program, in 2011 Acumen Fund decided to launch a new local fellowship. Targeting
high-potential individuals, the program provides continuing education for business executives, independents and personnel working for organizations. Acumen Fund wishes to train the tomorrow’s leaders in social entrepreneurship, first in Kenya and subsequently in India and Pakistan.

The Edmond de Rothschild Foundations share a common vision with Acumen Fund – namely, that social investments can and must be just as professional as financial investments. By combining first-rate training for entrepreneurs with strict investment criteria, the program addresses the need for professionalization within the social development sector.

>  Acumen Fund:


The Edmond de Rothschild Foundations, the Acumen Fund and Kenya’s KCB Bank Group selected 30 social entrepreneurs in East Africa for its one-year executive program, which is aimed at offering these leaders an opportunity to develop their skills with seminars on leadership, development strategy and social enterprise management.