Acumen Fund: Fighting global poverty with business expertise

Published: December 5, 2010

The Acumen Fund community holds an event at the Avari Towers on Saturday. PHOTO: COURTESY ACUMEN FUND

KARACHI: Pakistan’s director for Acumen Fund Aun Rahman called 2010 one of the strongest years for the organisation at the Acumen Fund community gathering at the Avari Towers Karachi on Saturday.

Explaining that the organisation focuses on building models to find solutions by using entrepreneurial approaches to solve the problems of global poverty, Rahman highlighted the livestock project undertaken by a corporate dairy farming business called Jassar Farms. The farm is in Jassar village, in the district of Narowal in the Punjab and aims to work on breed improvement in cows which can be achieved through artificial insemination using world-class, quality bull semen.

“The entrepreneur Shahzad Iqbal is pioneering this technology in Pakistan, importing embryos which will grow in the coming years to create an artificial insemination unit which — once it comes online next year — will change the rural landscape in Pakistan by increasing milk yields of animals fourfold,” said Rahman adding that poor farmers are not able to access high-quality semen doses because the prices of imported semen doses are too high and insemination of this semen, increases the potential milk yield of the cow 8,000 to 10,000 litres per year.

The stronger cows are maintained in a temperature-controlled environment and given cool water to drink in the summers. “This is a relatively low tech, low cost solution, and the ‘strength’ or the superior gene pool is because they are essentially progeny of the top bulls and cows in the world,” explained Pakistan Business Development Associate at Acumen Fund Sadaf Rehman. She added that the first of six such embryos (a bull — aptly named Saviour) was born seven to nine months ago.

Speaking at the event, dean and director of the Institute of Business Administration, Dr Ishrat Husain, stressed community welfare maximisation and said that social enterprise was helping the poor improve their standard of living. He added that the Acumen Fund has grown “from a crawling baby to a walking child” but that a lot more has to be done to battle poverty in Pakistan.

Assessing the flood situation in Sindh, Sindh Rural Support Organisation CEO Dr Sono Khangharani said that “building back better”— the concept of rebuilding better homes for flood survivors — is an opportunity to create awareness among the displaced people who are not exposed to toilets and hospitals and are therefore apprehensive about using them.

The event ended with short anecdotes related by Acumen Fund Fellows Bryan Farris and Benjamin Williams, who spoke of their appreciation of Pakistani hospitality, claiming that it was unmatched by any other country they had visited. These members are trained by the Acumen Fund and go on to work with the organisation’s investees in Pakistan.

Five frontline awards were also presented to those who had demonstrated outstanding accomplishments in flood relief.

Winners

Haseena Baloch

(National Rural Support Programme)

Imran Shaikh

(Head of communications for the Mahvash and Jahangir Siddiqui Foundation)

Asma Soomro

(Community mobiliser for the Sindh Rural Support Organisation)

Shahnawaz Birhamani

(Thardeep Rural Development Programme)

Dr Mohammad Naveed

(Aman Foundation)

Published in The Express Tribune, December 5th, 2010.

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