Acumen (http://Acumen.org), in partnership with GE (www.GESustainability.com), kicked off its fourth annual Collaboration Summit today in Nairobi. Acumen, a nonprofit impact investor, created the summit to bring social enterprises and international corporations together to catalyze inclusive business models that address Africa’s biggest social challenges. Since 2001, Acumen has invested more than $35 million in 31 companies in East and West Africa (http://APO.af/6f7lbT) working in agriculture, energy, health care, clean water and sanitation to better serve each region’s poor. The Collaboration Summit is a key part of Acumen’s Technical Assistance Initiative (http://APO.af/2uUvNi), a five-year $1 million program that aims to accelerate the growth and impact of its portfolio companies so they become sustainable, financially viable and inclusive of poor and marginalized communities.
“At Acumen, we believe there is much for social enterprises and large businesses to learn from each other and achieve together,” said Duncan Onyango, Acumen’s East Africa Director. “With GE’s support, we are working to cultivate an environment that enables companies, big and small, to understand the shared value of partnerships, strategically integrate social and environmental values into their models and ensure the success of all stakeholders.”
For this year’s Collaboration Summit, held at the Villa Rosa Kempinski Hotel, Acumen gathered a select number of committed multinationals and more than 15 of its social enterprises to work together on redefining business’s role in driving social impact and growing inclusive emerging markets. GE offered its support as the sole Summit Partner while Dow (http://APO.af/a6ad9d) supported as a Technical Assistance Initiative Partner and Intellecap (www.Intellecap.com) as a Knowledge Partner, leading a Summit session on partnerships to improve healthcare access.
“We’re delighted to be part of this year’s Collaboration Summit to share ideas and learnings on doing business that drives social impact and inclusive growth in Africa,” said GE Africa’s President and CEO Jay Ireland. “We see GE as partners in building Africa’s sustainable future and I’m looking forward to working with the participating social entrepreneurs to explore innovative solutions to Africa’s challenges.”
This year’s summit (http://APO.af/sDeMTo) focuses on the challenges holding emerging markets back—including those obstacles facing individual companies as well as entire industries like agriculture or renewable energy—and solutions that involve players from across big and small business, government, and civil society. For example, Unilever is partnering with Acumen and portfolio company BURN Manufacturing—a clean cookstove manufacturer (http://APO.af/5Zjmvw)—to improve the livelihoods of Africa’s smallholder farmers and build sustainable supply chains that source from these vulnerable rural communities. Collaborations in healthcare and agriculture were also highlighted.
Some of Acumen’s participating investments include: Esoko (https://Esoko.com), a mobile platform that provides Africa’s rural farmers with agronomic tips and market access that will improve their incomes; Devergy (https://Devergy.com), a social enterprise that delivers affordable, reliable solar energy to low-income communities living off the grid; and Sanergy (http://APO.af/wwi3cx), a company that provides residents of Kenya’s slums with affordable sanitation, and produces organic fertilizer to improve soil quality for Kenyan farms. Additional participating corporations involved include Unilever (www.Unilever.com) and Barclays (www.home.Barclays), both partners of the Technical Assistance Initiative, and EY (www.EY.com), which provides professional services to some of Acumen’s portfolio companies in the region.
“When we started this initiative we hoped that leading global corporations could help social enterprises to scale,” said Yasmina Zaidman, Acumen’s Director of Strategic Partnerships. “Now we know that these enterprises, through their focus on underserved markets and breakthrough innovation, can be powerful allies to corporations as well.”
Since its founding, Acumen has invested more than $101 million in 92 companies in East and West Africa, Southeast Asia, Latin America and the United States to support a wide range of sustainable, scalable businesses using marketbased approaches to deliver products and services to the poor. Though the Collaboration Summit, Acumen and the Summit participants are working to find ways to expand these innovations to impact millions of lives across East and West Africa.
Distributed by APO on behalf of GE.
Senior Business Associate, Acumen
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Acumen (http://Acumen.org) is changing the way the world tackles poverty by investing in companies, leaders and ideas. Acumen invests patient capital in businesses whose products and services are enabling the poor to transform their lives. Founded by Jacqueline Novogratz in 2001, Acumen has invested more than $101 million in 92 companies across Africa, Latin America, South Asia and the United States. Acumen is also developing a global community of emerging leaders with the knowledge, skills and determination to create a more inclusive world. In 2015, Acumen was named one of Fast Company’s Top 10 Most Innovative Not-for-Profit Companies. Learn more at www.Acumen.org and on Twitter @Acumen.
GE (NYSE:GE) (www.GE.com) is the world’s Digital Industrial Company, transforming industry with software-defined machines and solutions that are connected, responsive and predictive. GE is organized around a global exchange of knowledge, the “GE Store,” through which each business shares and accesses the same technology, markets, structure and intellect. Each invention further fuels innovation and application across our industrial sectors. With people, services, technology and scale, GE delivers better outcomes for customers by speaking the language of industry.
Intellecap (www.Intellecap.com) is a pioneer in providing innovative business solutions that help build and scale profitable and sustainable enterprises dedicated to social and environmental change. Founded in 2002, Intellecap has grown into a group together with Aavishkaar with more than 2000 employees. The group has channeled USD 600 millon of capital in high impact enterprises and worked on more than 400 engagements across 35 countries.