Project profile — Promoting Inclusion through Leadership and Investment


Acumen Fund Inc.
2020-03-31 - 2025-01-30
Global Affairs Canada
WGM Africa

Country / region 

• South of Sahara, regional (100.00%)


• Government And Civil Society, General: Women's rights organisations and movements, and government institutions (15170) (10.00%)
• Energy Generation, Renewable Resources: Energy generation, renewable sources - multiple technologies (23210) (15.00%)
• Banking And Financial Services: Education/training in banking and financial services (24081) (20.00%)
• Business And Other Services: Business support services and institutions (25010) (40.00%)
• Agriculture: Agricultural development (31120) (15.00%)

Policy marker 

• Gender equality (significant objective)
• Environmental sustainability (cross-cutting) (not targeted)
• Participatory development and good governance (not targeted)
• Trade development (not targeted)
• Biodiversity (not targeted)
• Climate change mitigation (not targeted)
• Climate Change Adaptation (not targeted)
• Urban issues (not targeted)
• Desertification (not targeted)
• Children's issues (not targeted)
• Youth Issues (not targeted)
• Disaster Risk Reduction(DRR) (not targeted)
• Indigenous Issues (not targeted)
• Disability (not targeted)
• Nutrition (not targeted)
• ICT as a tool for development (not targeted)


The project aims to improve the social and economic well-being for the most vulnerable populations in East and West Africa, including crisis-affected communities, particularly poor women and girls. The project works to accomplish this by building the capacity of targeted innovative social enterprises and emerging leaders committed to improving the lives of Africans, specifically women and conflict affected populations living in poverty. The project also aims to help strengthen the evidence base for gender lens investing – or investing with an aim to earn financial returns and address gender disparities – as a poverty reduction tool. Project activities include: (1) providing “inclusion grants” to African social enterprises to develop or refine products, services and approaches that better serve vulnerable populations in East and West Africa, including women and girls, and crisis affected communities; (2) developing and implementing gender-responsive impact measurement tools to deliver actionable insights into the impact of products and services on women and girls and crisis-affected populations in East and West Africa; (3) delivering training and tools to Acumen portfolio teams from East and West Africa to strengthen the integration of a gender equality lens across Acumen’s organization and investment cycle; and (4) supporting emerging leaders to participate in Acumen’s one-year Fellowship Program (55% women business leaders or entrepreneurs; 35% women and men in, or working on issues related to, crisis-affected communities).

Expected results 

The expected outcomes for this project include: (1) enhanced access by vulnerable populations in East and West Africa, including crisis-affected communities, in particular poor women/girls, to affordable, quality and innovative products and services that meet their specific basic needs, including clean energy and food security; and (2) strengthened capacity of emerging leaders, including those working in crisis-affected communities, particularly women leaders, to develop and manage successful businesses and organizations that address poverty reduction and social justice in East and West Africa.

Results achieved 

Results achieved as of March 2023 include: (1) Acumen investee companies provided more than 48 million people with affordable, quality, and innovative products that meet their basic clean energy and food security needs; (2) women-led companies from external (non-Acumen) co-financing or follow-on capital raised $8.7 million, up from a baseline of $2.25 million and representing an increase in leverage ratio from two to three times, reaching the end of project target of three times leverage ratio for women entrepreneurs; (3) developed 13 new products, services, or processes with the support of inclusion grants, exceeding the end of project target of six; (4) 32% of business plans reviewed by Acumen’s portfolio teams are from women founders or co-founders; (5) 7% of business plans reviewed by Acumen’s portfolio teams are from crisis-affected women against a target of 5%; (6) developed gender action plans for East Africa and West Africa, meeting the end of project target of two; (7) companies supported by Acumen have steadily improved their female board member representation, and this figure currently stands at 23% against an end of project target 25%; (8) inclusion grants disbursed by Acumen to portfolio companies impacted 1,125 individuals (152 men, 973 women)( end of project target: 2,400); (9) incorporated three new gender-focused indicators into Acumen’s annual review data collection process, meeting the end of project target; (10) Acumen’s portfolio companies have cumulatively created a positive impact on the quality of life of 83% of customers (end of project target: 70%); (11) Acumen’s portfolio companies have increased the number of low-income customers they are serving, with a cumulative of 60% of surveyed customers living below the poverty line (end of project target: 55%); and (12) 98% of the Fellows surveyed indicated that the Fellowship had enabled them to build a wider and more diverse professional network (end of project target of 90%).

Budget and spending 

Original budget $0
Planned disbursement $838,101
Country percentages by sector
Type of finance Aid grant excluding debt reorganisation
Collaboration type Bilateral
Type of aid Project-type interventions
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