Given the fact that I have lived abroad on several occasions, I have not really anticipated much about the 10 months that I would soon spend in a foreign land. I was busy enough with training and arming all the necessary documentation to get my visa to think much about what life would be like once I arrived in Pakistan. That all changed on my last day with the Acumen Fund team in New York. During the day, Acumen Fund held its Investor Gathering for all its key investors in a shareholder meeting that is atypical in the non-profit world. As part of the afternoon session, my cohort of fellows and I performed a 10 minute presentation to give the audience some background into who we were, why we were there, and where we were going. In preparation for the event, Rives, the renowned slam poet, helped us refine our ramblings into a more thoughtful and more entertaining package. The performance held special significance given the fact that this was the last day that our team of fellows would be together until out mid-project meeting in March 2009. Many of us were leaving for the field the very next morning.
During the evening, my fellow fellows and I greeted guests to the Investor Gala with silk scarves. We mingled with the greater Acumen Fund community and I was impressed by the way that the engagement of most of the people in that room was far deeper than a simple financial commitment. I am convinced that social change requires much more than capital; it requires a passionate community that is committed to breaking molds and blazing new trails. It was at the Investor Gala that the importance of my work took on a new meaning. There is a movement brewing. For too long, the traditional aid models have thrown trillions of dollars at developing countries and in most cases making the situation far worse. Acumen Fund, Endeavor, and other like-minded hybrid organizations are challenging the old guard. We are leveraging the power of business to empower the poor. As I leave for Pakistan, I am eager to live this work firsthand.