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$1 million for change: Meet the 2023 Acumen Angels awardees

Learn how Acumen Angels early-stage capital awards are scaling solutions to poverty from blueprint to breakthrough
February 20, 2024
Acumen Angels 2023

Acumen Angels 2023

Acumen Angels awards early-stage capital to support social innovators within our alumni community as they launch and scale ventures that address issues of poverty around the world. The program supports entrepreneurs whose organizations are at the blueprint and early validation stage, providing the critical funding they need to develop ideas and refine their business models. 

Following insights from Acumen’s 20+ years working alongside social builders from around the globe, Acumen Angels is meant to be capital bound by trust, based on the belief that moral character and business competence are key qualities of today’s entrepreneurs to tackle our most pressing social and environmental challenges. 

The power of early-stage catalytic capital

Since launching in 2019, the Acumen Angels program has awarded $2.45M USD in capital to 51 early-stage entrepreneurs who have collectively impacted 16.8M lives. This group of Acumen Angels award recipients has since created 40,000+ indirect jobs, directly employed 1,293 people, and raised an additional $7M in follow-on capital to further their work.

Scaling impact

Now in its fifth year, we’re thrilled to announce 23 new awardees selected at the end of 2023 to receive a total of $1M in capital, bringing the total number of Acumen Angels awardees to 74. This capital will help organizations scale the innovative work that has already impacted over 2.8M lives and will continue to address issues of poverty around the world.

Awardees' big ideas span the education, agriculture, workforce development, and healthcare sectors, while their impact traverses the globe from Nigeria, Colombia, India, and beyond!

Introducing the 2023 Acumen Angels awardees

Read below to learn about each of the 23 inspiring entrepreneurs awarded in 2023, including how they’ll be using Acumen Angels capital to continue driving change where it’s needed most.

Follow along on Acumen Academy's LinkedIn, X (Twitter), and Facebook to hear about their journey and to get more news about the Acumen Angels program.

Ahmed Ayoade Oyedotun | Nigeria

Co-Founder and CEO of Afrimash Company Limited

Ayoade Oyedotun Headshot

Ahmed Ayoade Oyedotun is a West Africa Acumen Fellow and the co-founder of Afrimash Company Limited, an e-commerce platform designed to help farmers in Nigeria access farming inputs and advisory support. Afrimash increases the efficiency and profitability of small and medium-scale commercial farmers by giving them quick and convenient access to thousands
of products via their website, mobile applications, and other tech-enabled distribution services.

Will use funding to: expand the distribution of quality day-old chicks. Using technology, a network of pickup centers across states will allow poultry farmers to track orders and help reduce the mortality of chicks in the distribution process, while creating a new revenue stream to complement Afrimash’s core business. 

Armin Khan | Bangladesh

Founder of Romoni Services

Armin Zaman Khan  09-23 7742_05-1

Armin Khan is a Bangladesh Acumen Fellow and the founder of Romoni Services, a social enterprise that empowers low-income women in Bangladesh to become entrepreneurs in the beauty industry. Romoni provides skills training in salon services, and helps women access financial services and loans to start and grow their businesses. With a repeat paying customer base of 30,000, these offerings have helped women reach financial independence and grow their income by roughly 4.5x. 

Will use funding to: expand into new districts. Improving services and training programs is projected to increase Romoni’s customer base by 3-4x and boost the annual incomes of women entrepreneurs by roughly 30%. 

Kennedy Oloo | Kenya 

Founder of Filamujuani

Kennedy Oloo

Kennedy Oloo is an East Africa Acumen Fellow and the founder of Filamujuani, a nonprofit creating jobs and opportunities for Kenyan youth in the creative industry. Through their training program and apprenticeship, Filamujuani equips young Kenyan production artists with the skills, experience, and network to start their own community studios or break into the film and television industries and increase their earning potential. In high demand, their 100-capacity training program receives roughly 500 applications from potential candidates. 

Will use funding to: scale services and set Filamujuani on a strong path towards sustainability by developing an online platform to connect program alumni to international markets, helping them sell content to a wider audience and increasing their income. 

Clara Wan | Malaysia

Founder and CEO of Graze Market

Clara Wan

Clara Wan is a Malaysia Acumen Fellow and the founder of Graze Market, on a mission to eliminate food waste and make food more affordable, nutritious, delicious, and accessible. By repurposing imperfect produce and creating new products like jams, sauces, and dehydrated fruits, Graze Market sells to over 10,000 paying customers and runs a surplus cafe featuring their products and redirecting waste to composting partners. 

Will use funding to: set up an internal production kitchen that will allow them to repurpose produce into new products faster and increase production capacity to grow their market and customer reach.

David Salas | Colombia

Founder and President of Disruptia

David Salas

David Salas is a Colombia Acumen Fellow and the founder of Disruptia, focused on bridging the gap between talent shortages and unemployment in Colombia. Disruptia provides marginalized groups — including women, migrants, people in rural communities, Afro-descendants, indigenous people, and those on the poverty line — with training in skills highly desirable for employers. Their programs have proven to increase the probability of employment from 8% to 54%. With more than 10,000 people looking to enroll, and limited capacity to meet the demand, Disruptia constantly seeks innovative ways to optimize program access and scale.  

Will use funding to: fund a tech platform that incorporates automation and AI into their key process, allowing them to improve capacity, reduce attrition, increase employability and tenure, and leverage Social Return on Investment (SROI) into their operations.

Emeka Nwachinemere | Nigeria

Founder and CEO of Kitovu Technology Company

Emeka Nwachinemere

Emeka Nwachinemere is a West Africa Acumen Fellow and the founder of Kitovu Technology Company, offering climate-smart farming and post-harvest management infrastructure to smallholder farmers in Nigeria. Kitovu’s services include end-to-end farming support from inputs to market, and their tech-enabled capabilities help farmers increase crop yields, cut down post-harvest losses, and access higher-value markets for their produce. 

Will use funding to: create Farmers Service Centers (FSCs). These are one-stop shops providing a wide range of agricultural inputs, equipment leasing, advisory services, aggregation, and storage facilities that will allow Kitovut to serve more farmers, unlock more resources and finance, and grow partnerships.  

Eneotse Unoogwu | Nigeria

Founder of Alltime fresh

Eneotse Unoogwu

Eneotse Unoogwu is a West Africa Acumen Fellow and the founder of Alltime fresh, a for-profit social enterprise working to generate prosperity for smallholder farmers in Nigeria. Alltime offers farmers insurance coverage to reduce climate risks, creates market access to prevent postharvest losses, and provides techniques to enable year-round farming. By consolidating farmers into producer groups and operating under business contracts with them, Alltime makes it possible for farmers to transform their farming from subsistence to viable businesses. 

Will use funding to: integrate a first-mile off-grid solar-powered cold storage system that enables larger aggregation and distribution, optimizing supply chain efficiency and offering farmers a pay-as-you-go cold storage solution. 

Ian Hrovatin | Mexico

Co-Founder of Vero amore

Ian  Hrovatin

Ian Hrovatin is an Acumen Food Systems Fellow and the co-founder of Vero amore, a social enterprise offering dignified employment and regenerative farming in rural parts of Mexico where illicit and extractive practices deplete the natural resources farmers depend on. Vero Amore trains smallholder farmers in agroforestry and conservation practices, helping them increase yields, productivity, and income. Connecting them to urban markets and the global value chain, they help thousands of farmers sell sustainably sourced products, such as cacao and açaí, which improves livelihoods and increases farmer income by 200%. 

Will use funding to: produce, launch, and test new products including chocolate bars, functional drinks, and a smoothie blend, which will grow the number of benefiting smallholder farmers by 3x and increase household revenue in the region by 15%. 

Lewitt Somarajan | India

Founder and CEO of Life Lab

Lewitt Somarajan

Lewitt Somarajan is an Acumen India Fellow and the founder of Life Lab, providing learning resources to help educators build proficiency in STEAM literacy and cultivate a scientific mindset in India’s underserved school children. Life Lab’s offerings include STEAM labs, DIY kits, lesson plans, animation, graphic novels, and a mobile-based learning app (LIFE APP), all of which help teachers adopt a coherent and complete STEAM curriculum for students K1-10. 

Will use funding to: redesign, package, and market their existing STEAM toolkits to acquire paying customers, including high-end educational institutions and parents with incomes, in order to cross-subsidize toolkits for low-income schools and increase Life Lab’s financial sustainability. 

Linh Hoang | Vietnam

Founder and CEO of WeGrow Education Vietnam 

Linh Hoang

Linh Hoang is a Vietnam Social Impact Business Accelerator alumnus and the founder of WeGrow Education Vietnam, a social enterprise providing comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) to youths, particularly girls, that prevent them from falling into sexual abuse, STDs, unwanted pregnancies, child marriage, and school dropout. Through interactive offline and online classes and a gamified self-learning app, WeGrow integrates teacher and parent involvement, robust student engagement, and meaningful learning experiences that close gender inequalities and improve mental health.

Will use funding to: enhance WeGrow’s app features and user experience, increase customer acquisition by testing new marketing tactics, and build financial stability to scale their CSE model, impacting the lives of 16 million Vietnamese students.  

Juliana Busasi | Tanzania 

Founder and Executive Director of Tanzania Health and Medical Education Foundation (TAHMEF)

Juliana Busasi-Headshot-IMG-1651

Juliana Busasi is an East Africa Acumen Fellow and the founder of Tanzania Health and Medical Education Foundation (TAHMEF), a digital technology platform bridging the socio-economic gaps limiting Tanzania’s informal workers, rural poor, and indigenous communities from accessing quality healthcare services. Their mental healthcare app, digital pay-as-you-go wallet, and health provider learning platform, provide critical mental health services including education and advocacy, early screenings and consultations, and access to affordable healthcare coverage options. 

Will use funding to: innovate and pilot the freemium version of their mental healthcare app, Ahadi, which currently offers free and subscription-based services that provide youth with instant, discrete, and evidence-based mental health support. 

Zubin Sharma | India

Founder of Project Potential

Zubin Sharma

Zubin Sharma is an India Acumen Fellow and the founder of Project Potential, a collaborative platform working to end poverty in the poorest districts of Bihar, India by bringing together organizations, government, and communities to design sustainable and inclusive development programs in the region. Their pilot project unites stakeholders to create a one-year software development training program for 150 low-income girls, providing job placement, increased income generation, and regional impact through stakeholder collaboration.  

Will use funding to: support their pilot project of providing 150 girls with software development training and job placement, executing a successful proof of concept to demonstrate how partnerships can have transformative impacts on poverty and rural development in the region. 

Sara Arias | Colombia

Co-Founder at Manifiesta Hecho en Colombia

Sara Arias

Sara Arias is a Colombia Acumen Fellow and Co-Founder at Manifiesta Hecho en Colombia, which provides employment in garment manufacturing to ex-guerrillas and victims of Colombia’s armed conflict. Guerrillas who laid down their arms in a polarizing 2016 Peace Accord have struggled to reincorporate back into rural society, facing unemployment and poverty, with vulnerability of falling back into violence. By employing ex-guerrillas and victims in the production of casual clothing, such as t-shirts and scarves, Manifiesta uses fashion to ignite important political conversations and improve livelihoods. 

Will use funding to: expand operations through the development of an e-commerce platform, diversification of suppliers, org consolidation, standardization of processes, and the strengthening of their team. 

Shruthi Iyer_FMCH

Shruthi Iyer is an India Acumen Fellow and the co-founder of Foundation for Mother and Child Health India (FMCH), a nonprofit using technology to prevent malnutrition in India. Their NuTree app helps mothers and frontline workers navigate conversations, schedule visits, and make counseling sessions more contextual, nuanced, and tailored so that each child receives consistent, high-quality, nutritional guidance in their first 1000 days of life. Having piloted the app with nearly 200 frontline workers across 3 districts, they’ve achieved a 70% decrease in undernourishment and a 77% reduction in malnutrition. 

Will use funding to: develop and scale their app to reach 200,000 families in the next year, while improving field staff collaboration and data collection, and create a viable model for further funding.

Benjamin Wachira | Kenya

Founder and CEO of  Emergency Medicine Kenya Foundation

Benjamin Wachira-2

Dr. Benjamin Wachira is an East Africa Acumen Fellow and the founder of Emergency Medicine Kenya Foundation, strengthening Kenya’s emergency healthcare system by providing emergency healthcare providers with capacity building, knowledge development, advocacy, and research. They also ensure healthcare facilities have adequate resources, infrastructure, and equipment, and collaborate with government and other stakeholders to develop policies and frameworks that support local governments and public emergency departments across Kenya.

Will use funding to: train, equip, and mentor 100 County Community Health Emergency Care Promoters (CHEPs) to become proficient and vital first responders. CHEPs will go on to train other emergency healthcare employees, scaling impact and growing emergency healthcare access across Kenya.

Hemakshi Meghani | India

Co-Founder of Indian School of Democracy

Hemakshi Meghani

Hemakshi Meghani is an India Acumen Fellow and the co-founder of Indian School of Democracy (ISD), a non-partisan nonprofit incubator providing political leadership development to nurture, train, and support aspiring political leaders from marginalized communities. Through their leadership training program, ISD equips aspiring leaders to enter politics — making it a possible career path by reducing barriers to entry, and creating a nationwide ecosystem of morally grounded grassroots political leaders. 

Will use funding to: design a tech platform that increases access to political leadership education. The platform will expand access and reach, and provide training in regional languages to Indian youth with the goal of reaching 10,000 aspiring political leaders by 2030. 

Samina Bano | India

Founder and CEO of Rightwalk Foundation

Samina Bano

Samina Bano is an India Acumen Fellow and the founder of Rightwalk Foundation, a nonprofit on a mission to uplift millions of Indian households out of poverty and into sustainability over the next five years. Rightwalk collaborates with the government to refine and intervene in key public policy initiatives including education, livelihoods, and health. They help ensure policies align with beneficiaries' needs, resources are properly allocated, and facilitate implementation on the ground so that public funds and services reach marginalized households. For each philanthropic dollar received, they unlock an additional $100 in public funding, catalyzing public investment. 

Will use funding to: scale their reach to new regions by strengthening governance and delivery of services using technology. Funding will support the refinement of a pilot app designed to support students through enhanced learning methodologies that fill teacher shortages across marginalized communities. 

Chinwendu Nweke | Nigeria

Founder of Bridge Merchant Enterprises

Chinwendu Nweke (2)

Chinwendu Nweke is a Gender Equity & Advancement Accelerator (GAC) alumnus and the founder of Bridge Merchant Enterprises, a tech platform connecting farmers in Nigeria to a real-time marketplace, storage facilities, and educational resources so they can reduce waste and grow their income. Bridge Merchant handles all logistics, helping farmers save an estimated 30-60% more of their produce and increase their income by an average of 20%.

Will use funding to: expand their tech platform and scale operations to engage 1,750 new farmers, access more buyers, and generate $125,000+ in revenue within the next year.

Ines Yaritza Suarez Quintero | Colombia

Founder of Corporación Ecoturismo San Martin de Turismo Alternativo-CORECOTURAL


Ines Yaritza Suarez Quintero is a Colombia Acumen Fellow and the CEO of Corporación Ecoturismo San Martin de Turismo Alternativo-CORECOTURAL, a nonprofit focused on community-based tourism to promote environmental conservation and local entrepreneurship in San Martin, Colombia, where extractive industries negatively impact livelihoods and the natural environment. They provide the local community with training, tools, and resources to strengthen their traditional ecological activities and acquire skills in tourism.

Will use funding to: acquire equipment and develop technology to improve organizational management and operations, and devise promotional and marketing strategies to boost sales.

Medoneizo Putsure | India

Founder of Jome Foods PVT Ltd

Medoneizo Putsure

Medoneizo Putsure is an India Acumen Fellow and the managing director of Jome Foods PVT Ltd, which helps provide sustainable livelihoods for beekeepers in Nagaland, India by offering ethical beekeeping practices that alleviate challenges and promote the long-term viability of the industry. Jome Foods offers bee farmers, most of whom are women, with training, market linkages, and scientific bee boxes that improve honey harvests and substantially increase their incomes.  

Will use funding to: increase honey productivity by investing in smartphone technology that enables remote monitoring of honeybee colonies and apiaries. They will also implement strategies to streamline company logistics, boost brand value, and upskill their team to improve operations. 

Shiroi Lily Shaiza | India

Co-Founder of NagaED

Shiroi Lily Shaiza

Shiroi Lily Shaiza is an India Acumen Fellow and the co-founder of NagaED, a learning management system empowering tribal and indigenous students and teachers in rural Northeast India. By providing tailored teacher training and curated learning content, NagaED enhances teaching practices, empowers educators, and improves learning outcomes for students. Their online and offline offerings bridge the gap so that underserved communities can access quality education. 

Will use funding to: strategically expand their operations, allowing them to scale an innovative model that could reach 53 million people and make quality education accessible to marginalized tribal and indigenous communities in the region. 

Tom Harbour | United Kingdom

CEO of Learning with Parents

Tom Harbour

Tom Harbour is a United Kingdom Acumen Fellow and the CEO of Learning with Parents, a parental engagement program that makes home learning more accessible and engaging for disadvantaged families in the United Kingdom. Learning with Parents works directly with marginalized families and schools to create programs that empower parents to have more meaningful parent-child learning interactions at home. Through child-led videos and hands-on activities, parents support their child’s learning journey and build the self-efficacy to uplift their family through education.

Will use funding to: scale their piloted digital reading log and support more families by bringing their product to 100 schools, representing approximately 2,000 disadvantaged families.

Piranto Peter Ole Mosiany | Kenya

Founder of Narropil Honey Enterprises Ltd.

Piranto Peter Ole Mosiany

Piranto Peter Ole Mosiany is a GAC Gender Equity & Advancement Accelerator alumnus and the founder of Narropil Honey Enterprises Ltd., a sustainable producer and supplier of natural authentic honey and bee by-products providing pesticide-free, organic honey from Kenya's drylands. By using modern beehives and eliminating the use of heating processes, Narropil Honey retains the natural health-promoting properties of its honey — helping address Kenya’s inadequate supply of locally-produced and unadulterated honey, and contributing to the wellbeing of both bee farmers and their customers. 

Will use funding to: acquire a beehive-making machine and honey refining tools to produce their own modern beehives. This will allow them to make hives that are mobile across diverse landscapes, helping them produce more honey types, reduce the impacts of droughts, and substantially increase honey production.

Join the Acumen Academy community

Feeling inspired by our community of social innovators and builders? At Acumen Academy, we believe in cultivating a deep rooted community of partners, allies, and entrepreneurs who are bound by a commitment to solve problems of poverty and build a world based on dignity. 

If you’re interested to learn more about how you can support the next cohort of Acumen Angels awardees, we’d love to hear from you here

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