Mendoza School of Business

Can entrepreneurship be used to fight U.S. poverty? Irish Impact speaker to discuss novel approach

Published: October 24, 2016 / Author: Carol Elliott

Fighting poverty in the U.S. has long been considered the jurisdiction of social programs and government aid. But more recently, a new trend has emerged that employs the power of the entrepreneurship toward effecting substantive, sustainable social change.

Amon Anderson, co-leader of Acumen America, will discuss the anti-poverty nonprofit’s novel approach as the keynote speaker for the Fifth Annual Irish Impact Social Entrepreneurship Conference. The conference will be held Oct. 27-28 at the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business.

Anderson’s talk, which is free and open to the public, takes place 5:30-6:45 p.m. Oct. 27 in DeBartolo Hall Room 102.

Acumen America was launched earlier this year to invest in high-growth, high-impact entrepreneurs, focusing on seed and series A stage investing in the health, financial inclusion and workforce development sectors. The Acumen Fund, parent organization of Acumen America, was incorporated in 2001 with seed capital from the Rockefeller Foundation, Cisco Systems Foundation and three individual philanthropists. The goal was to transform the world of philanthropy by creating a venture capital fund for the poor, supported by a global community of philanthropists willing to take a bet on a new approach.

Anderson previously worked on Acumen’s Global Portfolio team in New York, and led Acumen’s agriculture and water/sanitation investing in East Africa.  He was based in Nairobi for four years where he originated and managed a number of investments, building the agriculture portfolio from scratch. Anderson also worked in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia with Cherokee Investment Partners, developing an impact investing strategy and building a community of entrepreneurs.  

Irish Impact, organized by the Gigot Center for Entrepreneurship at the Mendoza College of Business, gathers entrepreneurs, practitioners and academic faculty from around the world to discuss current issues in social entrepreneurship through workshops, panel discussions and keynote talks. The 2016 event features discussions ranging from the need for inclusiveness in startup funding, to building investment ecosystems that integrate the efforts of policymakers, fund innovators, philanthropists and entrepreneurs.

The conference also includes the Zielsdorf Pitch Competition, where a panel of judges will hear live problem landscape pitches from aspiring social entrepreneurs.

A complete agenda for the Irish Impact Social Entrepreneurship Conference can be found at The conference is free, but attendees must register. The event is sponsored by the Haley and Zielsdorf Families, the Gigot Center for Entrepreneurship at Mendoza College of Business and FISH (Fellow Irish Social Hub) at Innovation Park Notre Dame.

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