Acumen Fund Chief Investment Officer Brian Trelstad delivers the portfolio update at the 2009 Investor Gathering in NYC.
Acumen Fund, a non-profit global venture fund, uses entrepreneurial approaches to tackle problems associated with poverty. Established in 2001 by Jacqueline Novogratz, Acumen Fund has pioneered the use of market-based approaches to bringing critical goods and services to low-income people. Working with innovative entrepreneurs in impoverished regions throughout the world, the businesses that Acumen supports focus on water, health, housing, energy, and agriculture.
Through its work Acumen Fund seeks to prove that small amounts of philanthropic capital, invested with large doses of business savvy, can establish sustainable and thriving enterprises. Acumen believes that poor people seek dignity, not dependence, and their global team -- with offices in four countries -- work to enable people to solve their own problems instead of providing them with aid. The key is patient capital. Acumen Fund uses philanthropic capital to make disciplined investments -- loans not grants -- that yield both financial and social returns.
With over twenty-five investments throughout Pakistan, India, and East Africa, and many more in the pipeline, Acumen believes that using entrepreneurial and market-based approaches to poverty, they will work to finally solve the problem of poverty.
Brian Trelstad runs the global portfolio team at the Acumen Fund, coordinating the investment process and post-investment management support. In addition, he has been driving Acumen Fund's works on measuring social and financial return.
He is a member of the management committee and the extended leadership team. He is also a founding executive committee member of the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE) and a co-founder of IRIS (Impact Reporting and Investment Standards), a tool for creating standardization and transparency in impact investing.
Before joining Acumen Fund, he Trelstad spent four years at McKinsey & Company as a consultant in the healthcare and non-profit practices and as an editor of the McKinsey Quarterly. Prior to McKinsey, he worked as a case writer at Stanford University's Center for Entrepreneurial Studies and advised a number of early-stage technology companies. He was the lead environmental staffer for President Clinton's AmeriCorps program, and co-founded and directed the Center for Environmental Citizenship.
He holds an MBA from Stanford University, an MA in City Planning from UC-Berkeley, and a BA from Harvard University.