Acumen Fund and Dow Chemicals Join Hands To Improve Social Enterprises in East & West Africa

  Acumen Fund, a nonprofit global venture fund addressing poverty across Africa and South Asia, and The Dow Chemical Company announced a collaboration to scale innovative social enterprises in East and West Africa during the recent Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Annual Meeting.

Acumen Fund has already invested over $75 million in 69 companies and supports a global community of emerging leaders that believe in creating a more inclusive world through the tools of both business and philanthropy.

Working directly with pioneering entrepreneurs who are at the center of new businesses aimed at serving poor communities across the continent, this partnership aims to accelerate the development and distribution of crucial products and services in the sectors of agriculture, water, sanitation and energy. Through direct collaboration, social enterprises in Acumen’s portfolio will gain access to Dow’s expertise and technical assistance resources to help scale their businesses and better serve their customers. At the same time, these businesses will share practical insights on how corporations can achieve growth and social impact in Sub-Saharan Africa. Dow recently opened offices in Kenya and Ghana.

“This is an extremely exciting step for Acumen Fund. During more than ten years of investing, we have come to appreciate the various types of support that social enterprises require when creating new systems and solutions for the underserved,” said Jacqueline Novogratz, CEO and Founder of Acumen Fund. “With Dow’s support, these businesses have an opportunity to access valuable expertise, which will translate into substantial impact for communities across East and West Africa.”

The collaboration represents an important opportunity to create shared learning among social enterprises and global corporations whose focus is on serving critical needs in Africa at a time of significant business growth.

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“Dow is proud to collaborate with Acumen to advance social enterprises for business growth in the region,” said Bo Miller, global director, Corporate Citizenship, and president and executive director of The Dow Chemical Company Foundation. “Our desire is that our citizenship efforts are an extension of our values as a global corporation. This partnership demonstrates our priorities as a company, and gives us an avenue to put our talent, expertise and financial resources to work for sustainable change.”

Despite the potential for growth and the entrance of a growing number of major corporations into African markets, hundreds of millions of people on the continent still struggle to meet their basic needs.

“The development of social entrepreneurs is a significant step in supporting local economies and addressing societal needs,” said Stephane Paquier, president, Dow Chemical Africa. “This opportunity provides a great platform to leverage the capabilities and skills of Dow, Acumen and others to provide the needed scale for sustainable growth in Africa.”

Though the region has undergone significant transformation with economic and developmental initiatives being led by governments and the private sector across several countries, it continues to be impacted by systemic challenges including lack of access to energy, agriculture inputs and safe drinking water that limit opportunity at the household level and hamper economic growth. Today, more than 75% of East and West Africa’s population lives in rural areas, the majority of whom are smallholder farmers living on less than $2 a day. Poverty is also pervasive in urban areas, with more than half of the population of some major cities living in slums without basic services like water, sanitation and electricity.

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