Smart Risks, Smart Rewards

By Annie O’Connell

We’ve all probably all heard the saying, “The bigger the risk, the bigger the reward.” It is likely that fewer people have heard that there are more than 1 billion people in the world living on less than $1.25 per day. Additionally, on average, Americans believe 25% of the federal budget goes to foreign aid. In reality, less than 1% of the federal budget goes to foreign aid.

These numbers are staggering so it’s going to take a social movement to end what some have called the “defining moral issue of our time.” We need smart thinkers, willing to take smart risks for smart rewards.

Innovative strategies like Acumen are going to be the answer, at least in part, to the question of how to end extreme poverty. Acumen’s strategy and mission is to change the way the world tackles poverty by investing in companies, leaders, and ideas. We invest patient capital in business models that deliver critical goods and services to the world’s poor, improving the lives of millions.

Earlier this month, the World Bank announced its new strategy to ending world poverty by 2030:

“First, we will partner with the private sector to use their expertise and capital to fight poverty. This is particularly important to create good jobs for the poor. Second, we will increase our commitment to fragile and conflict-affected states, which will require us to be bolder, take more risks, and commit more resources. And third, we will be as ambitious as possible on issues that are of global importance, including investing in women and girls and climate change.”

When you have 5 minutes, watch this video from the World Bank President to learn more.

As mentioned in the World Bank’s strategy, women and girls are critical to ending world poverty. However, girls were left out of the original U.N. Millennium Development Goals aimed at tackling extreme poverty. In 2000, world leaders gathered in NYC and agreed to a time-frame for ending global poverty and addressing the top issues facing the world. They agreed to 8 goals aimed at improving the human condition for those born into extreme poverty:

  • Cut extreme poverty and hunger in half
  • Achieve universal primary education
  • Promote gender equality and empower women
  • Reduce child mortality
  • Improve maternal health
  • Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases
  • Ensure environmental sustainability
  • Develop a global partnership for development

Women and girls aren’t explicitly mentioned in the U.N. Millennium Development Goals, but that’s where The Girl Declaration comes in — to make sure that girls’ voices are heard and their needs attended to. Educating girls and women has a multiplier effect. Just one additional year of school increases wages by at least 10%. This Friday is the International Day of 10×10 – Girl Rising so make sure to read the Declaration and show your support.

The Borgen Project, which celebrated its 10th Anniversary this month, is another innovative strategy to ending world poverty and the non-profit tracks the U.N. Millennium Development Goals. The Borgen Project was started by entrepreneur Clint Borgen. His idea was to create an advocacy campaign that engaged constituents in the democratic process by encouraging political leaders to increase foreign aid assistance and support international-based legislation and the U.N. Millennium Development Goals. Annie O’Connell, BOSTON+acumen’s Communications/Community Engagement Leader, also serves as a Regional Director for the Borgen Project so contact her at if you would like more information. You can learn more at

The BOSTON+acumen chapter also wants you to know that $10,000 fellowships are available for Boston-area university students working to tackle the U.N. Millennium Development Goals! Apply by October 15. You can find more details here.

Have a smart idea/smart risk to help end global poverty? We want to hear from you! Comment below or send us an email at