What's the Latest Development?

The venture capital firm Acumen Fund sponsors entrepreneurs that help poor communities, often in far flung rural outposts. In Pakistan, for example, the Fund has invested heavily in the National Rural Support Programme Bank, allowing it to take deposits for the first time. "Since April 10,000 farmers have deposited $7 million in the bank, which of course has resulted in yet more loans." The Acumen Fund measures the success of its investing against what could have been done by giving out free money.

What's the Big Idea?

Can a kind version of capitalism make progress against hunger, poverty and ill-health? One difference is that venture capitalists can offset losses by having successes, much the way Google invests in everything under the sun. A Manhattan-based non-profit, whose goal is to improve philanthropic venture capitalism, says the technique is getting results: Based on 463 organizations from 58 countries last year, a report claims 23,355 jobs were created that generated $1.4 billion in revenue by serving nearly 8 million people.