Sam Goldman, founder and CEO of D.light Design, and Raj Kundra, Acumen Fund Director of Capital Markets and Energy Portfolio, speak 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.
Sam Goldman is Co-Founder and CEO of D.light Design, a for-profit company that manufactures and sells solar-powered LED lights to low-income customers in India and East Africa.
The company's mission is to enable households without reliable electricity to attain the same quality of life as those with electricity.
Raj Kundra oversees Acumen's strategy for raising invested capital. Additionally, Raj leads Acumen work in energy and has global oversight of the Energy Portfolio. He was previously Senior Vice President at Lehman Brothers, New York.
In his latest role at Lehman, he worked in the Energy Division, where he focused on understanding investment opportunities and creating innovative financing/risk management solutions in this sector.
Kundra also worked in Lehman's Emerging Markets and Capital Markets groups in various trading and structuring roles. Prior to joining Lehman, he was a Vice President at J.P. Morgan, where he oversaw the marketing and structuring of interest rate hedging products for U.S. corporations. He has a BS in Economics from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.