dial 1298 yehia

Photo of the Week from Yehia Houry, Acumen Fund Fellow

Photo Credit: Yehia Houry

Most people know about Dharavi, the largest slum in Asia: National Geographic documentaries, Blockbuster movies, “Reality” slum tours, Harvard case studies, you name it. But how many have heard of Pratap Nagar, Golibar Rd, Mahim Creek, and Kamathipura? All slums in Mumbai which remain unnoticed to the outside world.

With 55% of the city’s population living in slums, which barely cover 5% of the city’s land, these jam-packed communities are subject to many problems, affecting water, sanitation, hygiene, housing and electricity, to name just a few. These poor human living conditions and an absolute lack of basic services make people much more prone to diseases and accidents.

That’s why Dial 1298, one of Acumen’s investees in India and the first reliable ambulance and emergency medical response service in India, has initiated a pilot program for a community of 50,000 people in Kamraj Nagar, one of the many ‘forgotten slums’ of Mumbai. With the help of our two partners, SNEHA, an organization that empowers women and children within slum households, and LIHS, experts at providing life support and EMS education in emergency situations, we are providing emergency health training for young community leaders in the slums, and will soon start placing ambulances locally for awareness and education. This project, whose initial research was conducted by Acumen Fellow Joanna Harries, will pave the way to a cost-effective customized BPL (below the poverty line) marketing plan that would be financially self-sustainable.

This picture was taken during one of our trainings, when a little girl saw the commotion around the bright yellow ambulance and decided to join in the fun. The 1298 poster behind her was actually grabbed from my bag and put up on the door by one of the health center volunteers who got really excited at the prospect of finally having a reliable ambulance service in her community.

The harsh infrastructure conditions in these slums do make me realize just how difficult it is for an ambulance to reach a patient within the “golden hour”, the span of time crucial for his survival. But I would like to believe that having a vehicle parked closer to the community and conducting as many emergency training sessions as we can afford to, coupled with a customized marketing campaign aimed at creating a paradigm shift in people’s minds about a reliable ambulance service affordable to everyone, will make a difference. We are off to a slow, but steady, start.

Yehia Houry is a Class of 2010 Acumen Fund Fellow who has spent the past 9 months in Mumbai working with Dial 1298.


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]