Acumen Blog

Eid Mubarak!!

The slaughter

Today was the start of one of the two ‘main’ holidays of muslims.  The first holiday is known as Eid ul Fitr, which marks the end of the month of fasting–Ramadan.  The second (that started today) is Eid ul Adha, which is centered around the pilgrimage of Hajj that happens every year in the holy city of Mecca.  The rites surrounding this holiday focus on the sacrifices and struggles that the prophet Abraham (known to all religions) made during his life time.  One of the main rites of this holiday is the sacrifcing of an animal (goat, sheep, cow, camel) as a reminder of one of the struggles that Abraham endured during his life.  Everyone that can afford to, must sacrifice an animal–and divide into three parts: one for the family, one for neighbors, and one for the poor.

 So, after the Islam 101 tutorial above, you must be wondering what I did today??

My wife and I picked up Wangari and set out to the Saiban community to spend the afternoon with them.  We had made arrangements to have a cow sacrificed there, and have the meat distributed amongst the 30 families living there.  Besides all the blood and guts, it was really an awesome experience…a day I will remember for a long time.

Two years ago, this 20 acre piece of land was a place where villagers used to congregate for yearly dog fights.  When I first took on this project, people (locals, relatives, government officials–just about everyone) told me that I had been screwed.  This place was a clear waste of time and no one would EVER move here.

Today, I entered into the home of Naveed Ahmad, a Saiban resident who works as a driver for a telecom company.  He insisted we have lunch with his family.  Now I am not a fan of liver(!!!), but somehow it tasted really good.  As we sat there, I began to reflect on where we started.  Naveed was one of the early residents (and is currently the block manager).  He has four children–two of his daughters are mentally challenged.  When he first came to Saiban, about 1 year ago, he told me he was fond of gardening–and would make the environment a priority.  One year later I am sitting in his home, where he has planted all types of fruits and vegetables, as well as fragrant flowers–I am in shock–he kept his word beyond my imagination.

 Just sitting there today amongst people who only dreamed of owning their own homes–now having them–and in a place that was a big joke for all of the onlookers—was a pretty good feeling!

Comments

Imagining the world as it could be

Christine Gitau is an East Africa Fellow and an enterprise coach at Craft Afrika, which provides business support services to craft entrepreneurs, enabling them build viable and thriving businesses in Kenya. At Acumen we often use the term “Moral Imagination” when talking about leadership. Christine wrote a reflection on how this concept has shifted her thinking. We could not be more proud of what she is building! [Read More]

How two Acumen Fellows are disrupting the education model in India

Whether its running youth soccer programs, providing vocational training services, or transforming the education system in India, Acumen India Fellows are driving real change in their communities.  Abbas Dadla and Abhilasha Sinha are India Fellows who are addressing the teacher shortage in India through the use of technology and peer collaboration. Find out what they are building below.  If you have grit, resilience and a commitment to creating change in your community in India, East Africa or Pakistan, we encourage you to apply for the Regional Fellowship Program! [Read More]

Meet Manjushree Patil, Founder of Aatman Academy

This month saw violent tragedies in Pakistan and Kenya, regions where Acumen works and which five classes of Acumen regional fellows call home. Among them there are dedicated teachers like Acumen India Fellow Manjushree Patil, crusaders against sex trafficking, builders of government, creators of liberating mobile medical technologies, and curators of slum sports programs. The need for strengthening the connections between those who are working for positive change against seemingly impossible odds has never been greater. We at Acumen have never been prouder to be the thread tying together these courageous individuals. Read more about Manjushree and how she is changing her community in India below! [Read More]

No, not silence again!

The Acumen Fellowship’s Cambridge Leadership Associates (CLA) training is notorious for digging deep, breaking Fellows down to reveal their deepest fears, identifying the sources of resilience that will fuel them with the tenacity to continue along the path to social change. Kahabi G. Isangula is an East Africa Regional Fellow living in Tanzania and recently participated in our CLA training. Get an idea of what it is like, below!  [Read More]

Announcing the Class of 2015 Acumen Global Fellows

Acumen Global Fellows are architects for the impact sector. They are innovators, game changers, visionaries, with various professional experiences looking to make substantial change in the world. They have thrived in companies such as Google; they have started their own companies in Sri Lanka, Canada and Malaysia.  They are choosing the challenge of working alongside our portfolio companies and immersing themselves in a rigorous leadership training. [Read More]

Welcoming Ajit Mahadevan as Acumen India Country Director

We are pleased to announce that Ajit Mahadevan will be joining Acumen as India Country Director. Ajit joins Acumen from Ernst & Young, where he has served as Advisory Partner & Leader (Life Sciences) for the past six years.  At EY, he was a strategic advisor to the leadership of some of the leading Indian and global life science and healthcare players with the focus being business transformation and growth.  Prior to his time at E&Y, Ajit was President of Piramal Healthcare, one of the leading pharmaceuticals companies in India, where he built the international business from inception in 2002 to $300M by the end of 2008. Ajit held multiple leadership roles across strategy, M&A and business leadership. During his tenure at Accenture’s Strategic Services practice in UK and India, he led the development of one of the firm’s largest and most successful internal projects – the Offshore Development Centre in 2001, which has now grown to about 100,000 people across multiple cities in India. Ajit has worked in an advisory capacity to Acumen in the past, most recently participating in Regional Fellows selection panels in Mumbai. [Read More]

Why We All Need A ‘Rikki’

Caren Wakoli is an emerging leader in East Africa who has launched a foundation to support the next generation of female leaders for Africa. Caren applied twice for the fellowship and was not accepted, but she did not give up. Her resilience and grit allowed her to persevere, and this year we are proud to have her as an East Africa Fellow. Below she shares her story on why everyone needs a ‘Rikki,’ and failure is never final.  [Read More]

Acumen Joins Beyond the Grid as Founding Partner

Acumen is proud to be a founding partner of Beyond the Grid, an innovative framework under President Obama’s Power Africa initiative to increase energy access for underserved populations across sub-Saharan Africa. Beyond the Grid will leverage partnerships with investors and practitioners committing to invest over $1 billion into off-grid and small scale solutions for this underserved market. [Read More]

Life after Lean

In May 2013, Sabrina Natasha Premji & Afzal Habib participated in +Acumen’s inaugural Lean for Social Change course based on Lean Start-Up principles. Enrollment for the next session of the Lean for Social Change course is open now. If you are working on a social issue in your community, are interested in pursuing your own social venture, or are just interested in creating an impact in this world…Register today! Sabrina & Afzal joined the course with a simple idea and the passion to transform the childcare crisis in East Africa’s informal settlements. Seven weeks later, they had developed a customer-tested business model ready to pilot in Kenya’s densest slums. Read their story below. [Read More]