Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has named Jacqueline Novogratz its 2010 entrepreneur of the year.
Novogratz, the founder of the social venture-focused Acumen Fund, is being given the award, named in honor of 1953 RPI alumnus William F. Glaser, at a ceremony in December.
Gina O'Connor, the director of the university's Severino Center for Technological Entrepreneurship, said Novogratz' "emphasis on eradicating poverty from the world is truly inspirational for our students and the rest of the Rensselaer community."
Acumen Fund invests in startup companies in the developing world. Not only do the businesses have the potential to generate significant returns for investors – emerging-market economies like India and Brazil are among the world's fastest-growing – but their success helps create wealth in impoverished communities, as well.
One company that the fund helped establish is AyurVAID, which aims to establish a network of Ayurvedic hospitals across India. Ayurvedic medical practices – when combined with conventional medicine – have the potential to treat chronic disease; as many as 12 million Indians die every year as a result of chronic illness.
More than two dozen other firms have been launched with the help of Acumen Fund.