Acumen Fund Board Chair Margo Alexander and CEO Jacqueline Novogratz welcome attendants to 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.
Margo Alexander was formerly a senior executive of PaineWebber, where she spent the greater part of her thirty-three year career in the financial services industry. Beginning as a research analyst, she later became Director of Research, then Director of Institutional Equity and, in 1995, CEO of Mitchell Hutchins Asset Management. She was a member of the PaineWebber executive committee until the firm's acquisition by UBS in November 2000.
Ms. Alexander is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley and the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration, where she met her husband, Robert Alexander.
She has lived in New York since 1970 and has two sons. Ms. Alexander is a member of the advisory boards of Haas School at Berkeley and The New School, serves on the board of the Eleanor Roosevelt Legacy Committee and is a member of The Council on Foreign Relations.
Jacqueline Novogratz is founder and CEO of Acumen Fund. Prior to starting Acumen, she worked at the Rockefeller Foundation, where she created and directed the Philanthropy Workshop and the Next Generation Leadership program.
Novogratz has also worked at the Joyce Mertz-Gilmore Foundation and has served as a consultant to UNICEF and the World Bank in various African countries. She helped found a micro-finance institution for women in Rwanda and began her career in international banking with Chase Manhattan Bank.
Novogratz holds an MBA from Stanford and a BA from the University of Virginia.