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Wednesday, January 18, 2006
from email newletter of Acumen receieved 18 Jan 2006
The last quarter of 2005 has positioned the Water Portfolio for significant growth in 2006. We are pleased to announce that we have received a four-year, $3.9 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to support the provision of safe and affordable water and sanitation services to underserved populations in the developing world. Acumen Fund will use the grant to establish a mechanism for financing market-based water and sanitation projects in countries such as India, Pakistan and South Africa. The Water and Sanitation Funding Facility will provide loan guarantees and technical assistance to enable access to commercial finance for projects that serve low-income populations. This will allow local communities, entrepreneurs and financial institutions to take an active role in addressing water and sanitation challenges. This grant will also allow us to increase the capacity of the Water Portfolio team, and to engage financial institutions as partners in the challenge to deliver safe and affordable water to the bottom of the pyramid. Early in 2006, Acumen Fund Portfolio Manager Yasmina Zaidman, Country Manager Varun Sahni and COO David Kyle will visit India to secure key banking partners, recruit an Associate for the Water Facility, and identify top investment prospects. We also continue to focus on supporting our current portfolio of investments, and have seen some important progress in their development:
Sustainable Model for Water Delivery — Improved water supplies for Indian slum dwellers Heritage Livelihoods Services Provider has secured a loan from ICICI, a leading bank in India, based on Acumen Fund’s letter of credit. They have begun the process of building urban water infrastructure in the slums of Hyderabad. Heritage entered into formal agreements with the local municipality for a guaranteed water supply, and will launch their first installations of water storage systems for 500 families in mid-January.
Safe and Affordable Drinking Water — A global franchise model to make safe drinking water available to the poor WaterHealth International (WHI) has completed installation of the treatment system at its second pilot site and established 20 systems for tsunami-affected areas of Sri Lanka, serving more than 20,000 tsunami survivors. With a completed business plan in hand, WHI is expanding its operations in India, and has recruited top local managers to lead this effort.
Low-Cost Drip Irrigation — An innovative and affordable design for farmers in India International Development Enterprises (India)’s for-profit sales arm, Global Easy Water Products (GEWP), has reached over 11,000 farmers since Acumen Fund’s investment, and has expanded its dealer network to 160 dealers. The management of GEWP has been in discussions with a citizen-based organization in Pakistan that serves the Thar region about introducing drip irrigation for small-scale farmers, and leaders of both organizations have visited each other to explore a pilot project.