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Partnering with Acumen to Tackle Poverty

2 min read

If you are trying to authentically connect with the hearts and minds of others, try storytelling.

Every spring I realize just how much “stuff” I’ve accumulated in my life. A T-shirt from here, a magnet from there. Countless clothes, dishes, and other trinkets seek their own corner of spotlight in my already crowded house. Most of the time, I toss them into a closet. And when spring rolls around, I inevitably do my version of spring cleaning and see what I can donate to those less fortunate.

We all do this, right? We’ve come to think of this as the best way we can support the needy. But in my time partnering with Acumen, I learned that sending truckloads of clothes and shoes isn’t the way to help those in need.

We need to change the way the world tackles poverty

Acumen is working to erase the belief that the needy are helpless, and to instead provide the means for these communities to empower themselves. Rather than donating items, Acumen empowers the community’s entrepreneurs by helping them bring their ideas to life. With Acumen’s help, one Acumen fellow established a “greenhouse in a box,” which helps the local residents protect crops from pests and weather. These community members can now grow their own food rather than rely on outside donations.

Bringing today’s entrepreneurs together

Acumen made the decision to gather 300 social entrepreneurs—their alumni—for the first time ever this March. The alums will have three full days to refresh their skills and build relationships. This new global network will reestablish these alumni as a force of good on the planet.

The world needs more of that.

I’ve had the privilege to partner with Acumen and serve as one of The Ariel Group’s representatives for their Leadership Fellows Program for the past 10 years. This highly selective (and highly competitive: in 2006 there were 5,000 applications from 110 countries) program selects 12 global business leaders, MBAs, PhDs, etc. and trains them in various skills, including storytelling and how to have a “moral imagination.”

Why storytelling is essential

These Acumen fellows truly embrace our ideologies and find ways to incorporate the storytelling techniques we teach them when they pitch their ideas. They paint vivid pictures of the needs in the communities they serve, so investors will eagerly sign-up to be a part of the movement.

And that’s not surprising. In fact, recent data has shown us that using stories makes presentations a whopping 22 more times more memorable than just statistics. If you are trying to authentically connect with the hearts and minds of others, it’s clear that using stories will have greater impact on your audience.

Visit Acumen’s website to read a testimonial and explore options for getting involved

Working with Acumen keeps me hopeful about the future. I often find myself sharing the stories of these amazing Acumen fellows—they remind me that it is absolutely possible to change the world for the better. Lately, that message goes a long way to keep my spirits up and my energy focused on what really matters—like changing the way the world tackles poverty.

Read more about Acumen’s inspiring work—and how you can support them—on their website here.


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