Investing in leaders and ideas

At the start of this year, I took on a new role at Acumen as our Chief Innovation Officer.

Acumen’s mission is to change the way the world tackles poverty by investing in companies, leaders and ideas.  The Chief Innovation Officer role is about scaling Acumen’s impact: building out from our core investing work to create the ecosystem of leaders the world needs to do this work; and investing in the spread of ideas by digging in to measure and understand the direct impact we are having through our investing work and sharing these learnings with the world – so we can all get smarter about what it really takes to tackle poverty at scale.

The impact piece is the most challenging and potentially the most exciting part of this work.  Challenging because deciphering and quantifying impact is the 10 zillion dollar question in any social change work.  And exciting because I firmly believe that the day we can clearly and succinctly explain and quantify impact is the day that everyone stops pretending that financial returns are the closest proxy for success for impact investors.

I dug into these issues in my recent talk at Acumen’s Investor Gathering last week.  The talk just went live on YouTube (see below or link here), so I thought I’d share it here first.

(Special thanks to Niklas Peters at Acumen who helped with the presentation and, while juggling a million other things, found the image for my favorite slide – the one from Brazil.)

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One Response to Investing in leaders and ideas

  1. gastonbilder says:

    Great idea to establish a Social Impact Committee + get to understand impact and know the constraints that are imposed by your capital structure (and how to overcome them).

    Keep up the good work

    @gastonbilder

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