GHIC 2019: Global Health & Innovation Conference
April 13-14, 2019
Yale University, New Haven, CT

Unite for Sight’s 2010 Global Health & Innovation Conference

Blog Report By Abby Hannifan, Unite For Sight Global Health Leadership Intern

"Patient Capital for an Impatient World," Keynote address by Jacqueline Novogratz, Founder and CEO of Acumen Fund

The seventh annual Unite for Sight Global Health & Innovation Conference, an event that attracted 2,200 participants from 50 states and from more than 55 countries, kicked off with a presentation by Jacqueline Novogratz, founder and CEO of Acumen Fund. Acumen operates under the principles of patient capital, a philosophy that incorporates both the compassion behind philanthropy and the efficiency of market-based strategies. Patient capital involves investing in inventive enterprise ideas that aim to enact social change for the “base of the pyramid” (BoP), defined as the 4 billion people excluded from the global market system who could substantially benefit from the creative business ventures of social entrepreneurs. Thus, Acumen believes that by injecting altruism into institutional build-up, and by aspiring to optimize social (rather than financial) returns, poverty can be alleviated.

It was this understanding of the “movement from private sector innovation to public sector entrepreneurship” on which Jacqueline presented the keynote address. The first investment she mentioned was that of LifeSpring Hospitals, a network of maternity and child healthcare clinics providing pediatric and reproductive medical services to low-income families in India for one-sixth of the private sector price. LifeSpring’s techniques rely on feedback from customers about their expectations and desires related to medical procedures and treatments. As Jacqueline mentioned, the poor want choice. Unfortunately, impoverished Indian women are forced out of necessity to give birth in public hospitals that “compromise quality, transparency, efficiency, and attitude toward the customers,” whereas women with more financial assets, or those willing to take out loans, are able to deliver in private establishments. LifeSpring’s website also proclaims that its mission was born out of recognition of this “deep deficiency” that ignores “women’s demand for an alternative.” Watch an introductory video about LifeSpring Hospitals here.

Jacqueline next described 1298, a company in Mumbai that provides ambulance services to an area deficient in reliable, quality emergency medical response and patient transport services. By using a sliding price scale and a highly modernized, 24/7 call center, 1298 is able to provide quick-response medical outreach to those in need across all social hierarchies. In a country with no 911 equivalent, such a service is incredibly valuable for its lifesaving potential. Learn more about 1298 by watching this video.

Jacqueline also mentioned Ecotact, a Kenyan public sanitation program utilizing pay-by-use toilets, and Jamii Bora, a microfinance institute providing Kenyan slum dwellers with safe, affordable homes. Watch a video about Iko toilets here, and a video about the Jamii Bora town of Kaputei here.

Key Takeaways