Meet The Woman Whose Venture Fund May Have Saved Millions Of Lives
9:50 am, December 14th | by Amy Tennery
Ten years ago, Jacqueline Novogratz started the Acumen Fund, a non-profit that functions like a venture capital firm but only works with entrepreneurs who aid philanthropic causes. Today, she says, around 200 other firms have sprouted up, following her lead. What’s made her so successful?
Novogratz sat down with CNBC to talk about her firm’s birth (“markets by themselves weren’t going to solve problems of poverty”) and how Acumen succeeds by turning the charity model on its head.
“We raise charitable money but, instead of giving it away, we invest,” Novogratz said. “Our intention is to get the money back so we can reinvest it.”
But that doesn’t mean she hasn’t taken risks. Acumen has treaded into territory where there “aren’t other investors,” like clean water initiatives, “when no one thought it was possible to deliver water in a sustainable way.” But there’s been a big payoff, as well: One company she invested in, a bed-net factory in Tanzania, “has created over 7,000 jobs and produces 29 million life-saving nets a year.”