Lahore: Acumen Fund, a pioneering nonprofit global venture firm addressing poverty across Africa and in South Asia, hosted an event yesterday to introduce the first class of Acumen Pakistan Fellows. In partnership with JS Bank, the Mahvesh & Jahangir Siddiqui Foundation and the Edmond de Rothschild Foundations, Acumen is working to develop the next generation of social change leaders who are building innovative businesses and strong institutions across Pakistan.
Twenty individuals have been selected out of over 500 candidates to participate in this yearlong training, while simultaneously continuing to pursue their social impact initiatives. Fellows’ initiatives range from creating an interest free microfinance institution, to a disaster relief project, to a teaching training program. In addition to a presentation given by the newly selected Pakistan Fellows, the launch event featured remarks by Jacqueline Novogratz, Founder & CEO of Acumen Fund, and Firoz Ladak, Executive Director, Edmond de Rothschild Foundations.
“Pakistan today faces many challenges, and we need new leaders who are dedicated to creating a better future for this country,” said Farrukh Khan, Country Director, Acumen Fund Pakistan. “It is exciting to help develop a community of leaders with the financial skills, operational excellence and moral imagination to address pressing social issues and we’re humbled by the support and interest we’ve received from our partners and local community.”
“The depth and breadth of talent in the applicant pool size is evidence that the people of this nation want to seek ways to improve the prevailing conditions and challenge the existing status quo,” stated Ali J. Siddiqui, CEO, Mahvesh & Jahangir Siddiqui Foundation. “With this inaugural class of bright and ambitious individuals, we are creating a brighter future of this country by providing the tools and the knowledge required to develop a new generation of Pakistani leaders.”
The Pakistan Fellows program is just one part of Acumen’s investment in leadership and community of the Acumen Fund alumni network. The East Africa Regional Fellows Program is in its second year and just selected its fellows for 2013. Acumen intends to launch similar Regional Fellows Programs in India and West Africa in the coming years.
Additionally, Acumen Fund has invested over $7 million USD in Pakistan 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 Pakistan’s portfolio include the NRSP National Rural Support Program Microfinance Bank, which is the first agency in Pakistan to provide financial services to rural agricultural markets, and Pharmagen Healthcare Ltd, which supplies safe, clean, and affordable drinking water to low-income residents in Lahore.