Sunday, 29 April 2007

Funding Ideas, Backing People

Nelson Mandela Theatre, Said Business School
Wednesday 28th March 2007

• The major Forum workshop sessions happened throughout the Said Business School over the following two days. The workshops were panel sessions made up of short speeches from leaders in the field, followed with comments and questions from the audience. You can imagine, with seven major sessions happening at the same time, we were spoilt for choice. I chose three sessions to focus on: Funding Ideas and Backing People, Bringing Projects to Scale, and the Future of Philanthropy.

• This first panel explored funding strategies from multiple perspectives including innovation from within foundations, private sector investment for public good, and non-profit venture investing. Panelists included JB Schram, founder of the College Summit, Ion Yadigaroglu of Capricorn Investment, Edward Skloot of the Surdna Foundation, and Jacqueline Novogratz of the Acument Fund. The session was facilitated by David Bornstein, the author of the book on social entrepreneurs “How to Change the World” (which we have given to all our Fellowship members in New Zealand).

• It was Jacqueline Novogratz, founder and CEO of the Acumen Fund who most captured my attention at this workshop. Her description of the strategy of investment behind the Acumen Fund is well worth looking into further.

Acumen is a non-profit global venture fund that seeks to demonstrate that small amounts of philanthropic capital, combined “with large doses of business acumen” can build thriving enterprises that serve the poor. The Acumen Fund currently manages $20 million in investments in South Asia and Eastern/Southern Africa, all focussed on delivering affordable healthcare, water and housing to the poor. Acumen also runs a Fellowship programme which is focussed on “building the next generation of business leaders with an understanding of global issues and poverty”.
— Streaming video of this session "Funding Ideas, Backing People" featuring David Bornstein, JB Schramm, Ion Yadigaroglu, Edward Skloot and Jacqueline Novogratz (Real Player required) 1 hour 56 mins
Acumen Fund overview brochure
“Designing Change: How venture philanthropy fund Acumen uses design thinking to help solve real-world problems” by Jessi Hempel in Business Week 12 March 2007 (Reader)
David Bornstein speaking to the Duke University Fuqua School of Business (2006)
How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas by David Bornstein (book pub 2004 by Oxford University Press)

"Funding Ideas, Backing People" workshop (Real Player required) 1 hour 56 mins