Funding Database

Acumen Fund

Acumen raises charitable donations to invest in companies, leaders, and ideas who tackle poverty in developing countries. The fund operates like a venture capital fund for the poor, supported by a global community of philanthropists willing to take a bet on a new approach. Donors are called “Partners” and treated like investors. The fund invests in companies leading innovations in hand-held solar power, cook stoves, off-grid generation, home systems, bio-gasification systems, and others.

 

Go to fund Website

Geographical Focus

Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Burundi, South Sudan, Ghana, and Nigeria

Technology/Sector Focus

  • Solar
  • Biomass
  • Wind
  • Small Hydro
Size of Investment
$0.25-3M
Target Return
Market interest rates or below
Total Fund Size
$64M
Fund Structure

General Fund Information

Type of Investment

Debt or equity

Investors of Fund

Donors and international development agencies

Fund Information

Size of Investment

$0.25-3M

Target Return

Market interest rates or below

Sample Investee

In 2015, Acumen invested $0.7M in Devergy, a company that offers affordable pay-as-you-go energy services for low-income customers in Tanzania.

Additional Project Characteristics

Investments are offered to companies who are operating locally. Acumen will only invest in post-revenue stage of the company.

Additional FMC Info

Network/Partners

Ernst & Young, Fellowship for leadership with SAP, ResponsAbility, Novastar, Standard Charter, Equity Bank and local Development Banks

Location of Registration and HQ

Kenya and Ghana

Primary Contact Information For Developers

Contact website

Types of Financing

Equity

Acumen will always take a minority stake in the company. In case of renewable energy projects, the equity investments are geared towards the development of the company itself – not the project.

Technical Assistance / Grants

Small amounts of grants are available in some cases after application, in addition to significant post investment support. This support includes access to experts, network of partners, training and development, and additional fundraising support.

Debt Mezzanine

USD denominated loans are offered to relevant companies, at market and below-market interest rates. Acumen offers flexible return structures, based on the specific needs of the company.

Guarantee / Insurance

Guarantees are sometimes offered, in partnership with USAID.

Requirements for Financing

Project Requirements

Renewable energy companies applying for capital from Acumen must comply with the following criteria: have significant operation in East Africa or West Africa, be an early-mid stage company that is in the process of scaling, have a product or deliver a service that addresses a critical need for the poor, have a clear business model that demonstrates the potential for financial sustainability, able to demonstrate a clear path to scale, and have a strong and experienced management team with the skills and the will to execute the business plan.

CO-Funding Requirements

Own contribution.

Target Impact

Acumen looks at three main pillars in its impact framework: 1. Focus on the poor – ventures that deliver critical products and services that enable poor customers to transform their lives 2. Breadth – ventures with a wide reach and game-changing innovations, that have the potential to scale to millions of low-income customers 3. Depth – true effect on customers’ quality of life over time. Essentially these pillars are assessed by reviewing the ability of the venture to increase jobs, increase the income and the livelihood of the households of the poor, and the number of people it impacts.

Due Diligence Requirements

Business plan, financial plan, marketing plan. The company must be legally registered and have audited financial statements. All legal requirements and documents must be in place.

Detailed Description Of Funding Process Procedure

Three stages of due diligence. First initial assessment to determine general fit will generally take a few days. The second stage includes an examination of the business plan (this will include conversations with employees, clients, and other stakeholders), assessment of leadership, potential for impact, sustainability, capacity to scale, leadership in place to achieve the scale. Third stage is the legal due diligence, registration and permits. The entire process is expected to take 4-6 months.