Capital Club Dubai and Acumen Fund explores the new face of philanthropy
- United Arab Emirates: Monday, November 05 - 2012 at 11:29
- PRESS RELEASE
With the majority of the world's population living on less than four US dollars a day, real sustainable solutions to the global poverty pandemic have become more crucial than ever. It is clear that traditional models of philanthropy are simply not enough to turn, or even stem, the tide and alternatives must be explored, initiated, and supported if real change on a global scale is to be achieved.
Commenting on their support of the event, Capital Club Dubai General Manager, Bill Loveday, remarked, "The Capital Club is thrilled to have been the venue for such a significantly important evening. The work being done by Dubai+acumen, as well as the other social entrepreneurs and philanthropists that were present at the event, is both inspiring and invaluable. As the regional hub for Dubai's business community, the Club forms a premier vehicle through which to explore the synergy of commerce and philanthropy and we are extremely pleased that we could contribute to these critical ventures' continued success."
The panel consisted of Jacqueline Novogratz the Founder and CEO of Acumen Fund, Clare Woodcraft, CEO of the Emirates Foundation, Masood Razzaq, Executive Director of Goodgate, the groundbreaking social enterprise working to connect donors to good causes, and promote transparency, efficiency, and performance in philanthropy across the Muslim world, and Leena Al Olaimy from Triple Bottom Line Associates, the Africa Africa focussed advisory group that helps Small and Medium Sized Enterprises implement strategies that will enable them grow in a sustainable manner.
Speaking in a keynote address, Novogratz commented on the need for cross medial collaboration if the issue of poverty is every to be addressed in a definitive way. She commented that by pursuing a synergy between traditional philanthropic approaches and more modern social entrepreneurship tactics, it is possible to for these enterprises to create viable, sustainable and profitable working models that governments and other organisations can build on. She stressed, however, that for this process to be successful a great deal of time and capital is needed, stating that these are long term projects that require both pure philanthropic grants to get them started in the initial phases, as well as patient capital - funds invested with the aim of creating long term returns.
Novagratz also emphasised the most important element in any social development programme was the need to create human dignity and hope, commenting, "The most radical thing you can do in a cynical world is build hope." She went on to remark that traditional charity often meets immediate needs but too often fails to enable people to solve their own problems over the long term. Market-based approaches have the potential to grow when charitable dollars run out, and they must be a part of the solution to the big problem of poverty.
The panel discussion explored a number of different key issues, including finding common ground and possible opportunities for partnership and growth between the philanthropic and social entrepreneurship sectors. They also looked at the various strengths, shortcomings and challenges that are unique and common to both sectors, examining examples where social entrepreneurship initiatives have failed while philanthropy has succeeded and vice versa, especially with regard to the availability and allocation funding, project development, entrepreneur selection and support, and the impact of regulatory frameworks. The panel then touched on the apparent evolution from traditional Islamic philanthropic efforts towards social entrepreneurship that the region is witnessing and discussed the possible drivers as well as factors that are both supporting and hindering this trend.
The evening also included a social entrepreneurship and philanthropy showcase featuring the Palestine Children's Relief fund, leading regional social fashion line Palestyle, and the Sougha initiative of the Khalifa Fund.
Acumen Fund was incorporated on April 1, 2001, with seed capital from the Rockefeller Foundation, Cisco Systems Foundation and three individual philanthropists. Since then their network of investors and advisors has grown to include a wide range of individuals and organizations who share our belief in using entrepreneurial approaches to solve the problems of global poverty.
Acumen Fund believes that pioneering entrepreneurs will ultimately find the solutions to poverty. The entrepreneurs Acumen Fund supports are focused on offering critical services - water, health, housing, and energy - at affordable prices to people earning less than four dollars a day. The key is patient capital. The Fund uses philanthropic capital to make disciplined investments - loans or equity, not grants - that yield both financial and social returns. Any financial returns they receive are recycled into new investments. Over time, they have refined the Acumen Fund investment model, built a world-class global team with offices in four countries, and learned what does and does not work in growing businesses that serve low-income people.
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