The Acumen Fund and Development Indicators: Low-cost bednets and impact on health in Tanzania

Open Access
Shutt, Allison J
Area of Honors:
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • James R. Tybout, Thesis Supervisor
  • Bee Yan Roberts, Honors Advisor
  • development economics
  • economics
  • Tanzania
  • international economics
  • health indicators
  • malaria
  • Africa
  • transitional economics
Development economics explores methods for relieving the tensions of poverty in hopes of growing economies. Foreign direct investment and microfinance have been heralded in recent studies for these methods’ abilities to promote growth. However, foreign direct investment focuses upon large-scale businesses while microfinance focuses upon individual and household needs. Instead, the impact investing sector focuses upon making investments in businesses that provide basic services for the poor. The Acumen Fund, a philanthropic fund founded in 2001, is among the pioneers in this field. A significant investment made by the Acumen Fund with A to Z Textile Mills in the Arusha region of Tanzania enables this business to produce long-lasting and low-cost, insecticide-treated nets, which prevents the spread of malaria. In this paper, I will first provide background information on the impact investing sector’s market trends and potential outcomes of investing in entrepreneurs. I will then detail the objectives of the Acumen Fund and review the history of A to Z Textile Mills, Tanzania and the impact of health and malaria upon the poor. Finally, using data from the Living Standards Measurement Survey, I will analyze changes in mortality rates across regions. My hypothesis is that, over-time, reported mortality rates from illness among children and infants will drop most significantly in regions closest to A to Z Textile Mills and will not be impacted in the furthest regions; there will be an interaction between time and distance. I will also analyze these results, controlling for the distance to the nearest health facility, distance to a public road, and inherent regional differences. Ultimately, I will discover that there is a significant interaction between distance and time, but that this interaction is opposite of my hypothesis. I will then discuss possible implications and causes of the decreased effect of distance upon health indicators across regions in Tanzania and suggest potential opportunities for research in the future.