Dubai for Acumen’s Inaugural Spring Benefit at Cuadro Art Gallery in DIFC

Sonya Khan is on the leadership team of Acumen Fund’s Dubai volunteer chapter. Dubai for Acumen’s Spring Benefit successfully raised more than $10,000 for Acumen Fund. The Dubai chapter is Acumen Fund’s third official chapter and we are excited to welcome them to our Acumen Fund Partner community.

Surveying the crowd of professionals mingling at Dubai for Acumen’s first fundraising event in the heart of Dubai’s financial district, I felt a surge of satisfaction.  Only a week earlier, as the volunteers made our final push for ticket sales, we weren’t sure how many people to expect for our first event. Unlike many of the other cities where Acumen Fund and its Chapters operate; in Dubai, Acumen Fund was a completely alien concept.   The objective of the event was to make an impact on Dubai’s professional community and to get the word out about Acumen Fund, so numbers mattered.  Volunteers had been sending out emails, making phone calls, and talking to co-workers, friends, and acquaintances for weeks in a bid to reach as many people as possible and it had clearly paid off – the Chapter ultimately sold 300 tickets. The atmosphere at the art gallery was animated; people strolled through nibbling on canapés, enjoying the accompaniments of the pianist, some still in business suits straight from the office, others glammed up for an evening out.  Small groups gathered around scattered TV monitors, watching videos of various Acumen Fund projects and hearing Jacqueline Novogratz speak.  Once the presentation started, the chatter quickly died down and attention turned to the informational part of the evening.

Dubai draws many people from around the world through its reputation for decadence and the lure of a more luxurious life.  The informational session that evening was a call to action, daring us all not to be lulled into a life of comfortable complacency.  It started out with Ankur Shah presenting the facts and figures along with real world examples of how Acumen Fund is achieving its goals, appealing to the most practical minds in the audience.  He was followed by the keynote speaker for the evening Sarah Dimson, a Ghanaian-American Acumen Fellow, who iscurrently working at Ansaar Management Company, a low income housing company based in Lahore, Pakistan. Sarah challenged all of us to find a way to make a difference. She spoke passionately about how amazed she was by her experiences as an Acumen Fellow, even though it was radically different from what she had anticipated when she applied.  She presented the Acumen Fellows program not only as a means through which to make positive mark on the planet, but also an avenue for personal growth.

I expected the evening to wrap up quickly after that and was pleasantly surprised to see how many people lingered on, stopping volunteers to ask questions, sharing ideas and seeking ways to get further involved.  If as Voltaire says, the present is pregnant with the future, then this event will bring inspiration, growth, and energy to the Dubai for Acumen chapter.


10 Books We’re Reading This Summer

What are you reading? It is a common question here at Acumen, an organization full of avid readers constantly trading favorite book titles that discuss leadership, impact, development and branding. Here are 10 stellar books we’re reading this summer. These books and others provide a framework of thinking, a spark of new ideas, a platform for debate. So, what are you reading? [Read More]

How Acumen Brought Back my Fire

Eda is an East Africa Regional Fellow from Nairobi, Kenya and is the Founder and Director of Halisi Trust, an organization that seeks to challenge the vices that plague society and encourage transformational development in Kenya’s youth. When Eda applied for the East Africa Fellows Program, she felt disillusioned and stuck. Below, Eda discusses how Acumen’s Regional Fellowship Program brought back her fire. Now, Eda has engaged nearly 6,000 people through outreach events and the Mkenya Halisi movement continues to grow. Acumen is currently accepting applications for the next class of East Africa Fellows. APPLY TODAY! [Read More]

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 and Canada.  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]