Skoll Foundation, Acumen offer support for entrepreneurs to tackle social issues

Skoll Foundation, an international non-profit investment organisation, has partnered with The Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE) to actively engage social entrepreneurs and local organisations supporting entrepreneurs who are working in Nigeria to help end poverty and other social challenges in the country. This meeting also featured Acumen, a non-profit impact investment organisation.

Claire Wathen, community and convening manager, Skoll Foundation, made this known while addressing a forum of social entrepreneurs at an event tagged, ‘Connecting with Local and International Opportunities’, put together by the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE) in Lagos recently.

According to Wathen, the Skoll Foundation drives large-scale change by investing in, connecting and celebrating social entrepreneurs and innovators who help in solving the world’s most pressing problems.

“The Skoll award for social entrepreneurship is given by Skoll Foundation and we give between 4 and 6 awards in a year to innovators within organisations that are addressing most pressing issues and invest directly in the promise of even greater impact at a scale,” she said.

“The awardees that are selected and supported by Skoll are at the growth stage and are organisations that activate skills and are looking to further their impact. We bring them into our portfolio and we accompany our investors with a storytelling component. So we are really interested in not only scaling your impact but sharing in a way that the audience will appreciate,” she said.

Ben Pyne, portfolio and investment, Skoll Foundation, stated that Skoll Foundation already has several active members in Nigeria who are beneficiaries of the award. Pyne explained that awardees receive a $1.25 million core support grant over three years to scale their work and increase their impact. He added that they also gain leverage through their long-term participation in a global community of visionary leaders and innovators dedicated to solving the world’s most pressing problems.

Wathen (earlier quoted) noted that the award process is by referral and not by open application process. “Award process is by referral; we do not have open application process. We leverage on network to identify new entrepreneurs, which is one of the reasons we are so excited to be here in Lagos to connect with new community and bring our new voices to our network.” She also encouraged participants to endeavour to apply and participate in the annual Skoll World Forum.

Also speaking during the entrepreneurs meeting, Meghan Curran, West Africa director, Acumen, highlighted the group’s interest in companies that create sustainable solutions in local ecosystem. Curran said Acumen raises charitable donations to invest in companies, leaders, and ideas who tackle poverty in developing countries.

She stated that Acumen in the last 15 years has invested over $110 million in breakthrough innovations with 102 countries, serving low-income customers within 13 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the U.S. with a major focus on post-seed to scale opportunities especially in the agriculture and renewable energy space. Olawale Ajiboye, associate director of Acumen West Africa fellowship, also shared opportunities in the Acumen’s West Africa fellowship and why entrepreneurs should take advantage of it.

The Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE) is a global network of organisations that propel entrepreneurship in emerging markets. ANDE members provide critical financial, educational, and business support services to small and growing businesses (SGBs) based on the conviction that SGBs will create jobs, stimulate long-term economic growth, and produce environmental and social benefits.


Josephine Okojie

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