轉寄︰ Letter from Jacqueline Novogratz – Winter 2012

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“When you do the common things in life in an uncommon way, you will command the attention of the world.” George Washington Carver

What is Social Entrepreneurship?

Statement of Faith
You can find other “Market with Meaning” but you definitely want to see “Profit with Purpose”.
I personally “Believe in Kingdom Transformation” because I know there is only ONE “Life for Significant”.

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—– 轉寄的郵件 —-
從︰ Jacqueline Novogratz <ceo@acumenfund.org>
收件人︰ incubator.hou@gmail.com
傳送日期︰ 2012年02月24日 (週五) 10:00 PM
主題︰ Letter from Jacqueline Novogratz – Winter 2012

From the desk of JN - pink


Dear Houghton,
As I write, soft rain is blessing Accra’s early morning, allowing a quiet moment of reflection about our work in West Africa and what it means for Acumen globally.  When Acumen Fund’s board approved an exploration of a new region in September 2011, it did so knowing we were determined to put into action our values around patient capital and moral leadership.  We would go quietly, do more listening than talking, insist on partnering with local leaders, and ensure there was a solid pipeline of investment opportunities.  We chose West Africa, starting with Ghana and Nigeria, because we believed opportunity was here.  A year later, we are thrilled we made the right decision.

It starts with leadership.  Our colleague Catherine Casey took on the challenge and flew to Accra in early January 2011 with just a suitcase and a few phone numbers, exemplifying the spirit of servant-leadership. Soon, Ghana’s warm spirit welcomed her through people like Ken Ofori-Atta, one of Ghana’s leading investment bankers, and Kweku Bedu-Addo, CEO of Standard Chartered Bank in Ghana. Our global team gave support from afar in developing investments and navigating regulatory requirements.

A year later, we have launched the West Africa office after making significant strides.  The team has invested $2.5 million in two companies that provide a sense of what patient capital can mean for the region.  I am also proud and excited to announce our new West Africa Director, Godfrey Mwindaare. Catherine will now assume leadership for our global expansion efforts.


See an interview with Jacqueline on Bloomberg TV’s MoneyMoves.
gadco community
GADCO’s community of smallholder farmers.

medeemMedeem’s unique ParcelCert™ product provides land documentation.
Godfrey brings more than a dozen years of experience investing across 32 African countries, both at commercial banks and as Chief Investment Officer at the African Development Bank. Acumen Fund West Africa also launches with three founding partners who are contributing financially to these efforts: Ken (who also joined our global Board of Directors), Kweku, and Ashok Mohinani.  And our team is supported by a strong, vibrant community: more than 170 professionals joined our launch event, a wonderful night of celebration. We could not be more grateful for the generosity of so many individuals in Ghana and Nigeria.

I’m particularly excited about our two first West African investments.  They have the potential to impact millions. Together, they also represent powerful innovations at the nexus of land rights, food production, and incomes.

The complexity and scale of these issues is enormous.  Much of Africa’s land has no legal title – a huge challenge given the millions of acres of land currently being purchased by foreign investors, often for bio-fuel production, export, and land speculation – not for domestic food markets.  At the same time, aid systems too often romanticize smallholder farmers, providing insufficient inputs and failing to recognize that larger farms are required to feed the population.  Layer on this the estimation that 80% of food crops currently grown in Africa are produced by low-income smallholders.  More than a fifth of Africans, 239 million, are undernourished.

A country like Ghana, heavily dependent on agriculture, imports 70% of its rice, a main staple, mostly from Asia. Given dramatic weather fluctuations, the country is increasingly vulnerable to huge price spikes.  Yet there is ample opportunity to build systems and markets that enable domestic production for domestic markets.

One of our first investments in West Africa is in GADCO, a company that focuses on improving smallholder farmer livelihoods by commanding the full agricultural value chain from farmer to domestic sales. GADCO is innovating in several ways.  First, the company, founded by entrepreneurs Iggy Bassi and Toks Abimbola, has leased formerly unproductive land from the Fievie clan in Sogakope, a part of Ghana’s Volta region. Because the land is located in potential swampland alongside the mighty Volta River, the community had not seen its value for rice production, and so the land lay fallow.  To begin operations, GADCO has brought the best in technology and expertise from Brazil to develop the land and infrastructure.  The community benefits from rice production as it receives a revenue share from the company and also plays an advisory role, meeting with company leadership on a regular basis.

After one harvest, GADCO’s farm is one of the largest rice producers in Ghana, bringing high quality rice to domestic markets.  With the community’s first revenue share, it is establishing a school feeding program for its students.

GADCO also plans to start a smallholder farmer program to provide skills and enhance income levels of community residents who are mostly subsistence farmers.  This will entail significant training, organizing, and learning to become a model supporting community residents, strengthening local development and enabling the company to emerge as one of the strongest producers in the region. Though it will not be easy, we believe GADCO can bring much to the discussion of models for a new capitalism.

We see similar power in Medeem, a private company founded by Craig DeRoy, former CEO of First American Corporation, a Fortune 500 company.  With the aim of providing affordable land documentation services, Medeem’s unique ParcelCert™ product is targeted toward solving the longstanding issue of lack of security of land tenure.  The company got off to a strong start this year, documenting 1400 properties in the country, and has ambitious plans to grow. Already, other countries are interested in their process, approach, and pricing – as everyone who understands Africa understands how paramount land title is to the continent’s future.

And so we begin in West Africa. Our vision is for each regional office to move toward greater independence and accountability while being linked to the global community through mutual bonds of respect, knowledge sharing, and support. And we couldn’t be more excited.

Indeed, 2012 is already emerging as a watershed year.  In addition to launching West Africa, we are exploring new geographies based on local philanthropic funding raised, the pipeline of entrepreneurial opportunities in place, and the existence of an engaged business community willing to support our patient capital approach.  We also plan to launch our next Regional Fellows program in Pakistan and will bring on a second class of East Africa Fellows, supported by JS Bank in Pakistan and KCB Bank in East Africa, respectively, with the ongoing support of the Edmond de Rothschild Foundations. Our portfolio is growing and we will focus even more on managing for value and impact.  Sasha Dichter is now leading our efforts to strengthen our work in leadership, metrics, and learning from our portfolios, with the goal of investing wholeheartedly in ideas that we believe can change the way the world tackles poverty. 

When preparing for the West Africa launch, I came across the following quote by Ghana’s founding President, Kwame Nkrumah. He stated in his Christmas Eve address in 1957:

“We shall measure our progress by the improvement in the health of our people; by the number of children in school, and by the quality of their education; by the availability of water and electricity in our towns and villages, and by the happiness which our people take in being able to manage their own affairs.  The welfare of our people is our chief pride, and it is by this our Government will ask to be judged.”

In this, President Nkrumah could have written Acumen Fund’s mission statement. We cannot and must not allow ourselves to be controlled by capital but must instead control it as a tool to better humankind.  We aim to build a global community of companies and individuals with a shared vision of a single world in which all may flourish and we will not stop until we have succeeded.  Thank you, always, for being a part of it.

With hope and optimism,
JN first name signature
Jacqueline Novogratz

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