Investing in the next generation of leaders who are driving real change in their own communities around the world.

The India Fellows Program is addressing the country’s most pressing social issues by supporting a new generation of Indian leaders willing to challenge broken systems and develop new, inclusive solutions to create impact.

About the India Fellows Program

Over 90% of Indian’s 1.3 billion people live on less than four dollars a day. And yet while so many live in extreme poverty, the country’s elite continues to accumulate wealth by the billions. India is poised to become one of the world’s most powerful economies, but will remain one of the most unequal societies. The country that Gandhi and Nehru had envisioned is far from realized.

The next phase of development in India must take a drastically different direction, a direction guided by a new generation of Indian leaders who are willing to challenge broken systems, who possess an unwavering moral compass, and who can see opportunity where others see only challenges. Acumen’s India Fellows Program is providing the opportunity for emerging leaders to receive world-class training and collaborate with like-minded individuals so that they can be the change that India needs.

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How to Apply

Each year, the India Fellows Program brings together up to 20 emerging leaders from different regions, sectors, and socio-economic backgrounds in India.

The applications for the Regional Fellows Program are closed now. Applications for the class of 2015 will go online in July/August 2014

The Application Process

The online application consists of:

  • Background information
  • Resume/CV
  • Two references
  • Short & long answer questions

Application Instructions: For more guidance on how to answer the application questions, please click here

Frequently Asked Questions: For a list of Frequently Asked Questions and their answers, please click here.

The Selection Process

The selection process for this program is very rigorous and highly competitive. Here is a general timeline of the process:

  • Applications for the class of 2015 will go online in July/August 2014
  • Telephone Interviews: October 2014
  • In-Person Interviews: November 2014
  • Final Selection: December 2014

Who Becomes a Regional Fellow

Regional Fellows Announcement

  • Entrepreneurs and leaders within organizations (for-profit, non-profit, and government) with a compelling social change project that has been operating for the last 2-3 years
  • Individuals who plan to continue developing their initiative for the duration of the program
  • Individuals with a deep passion and commitment to India
  • Individuals with a proven track record of leadership and management responsibilities
  • Individuals with unrelenting perseverance, personal integrity and critical thinking skills

Regional Fellows Training

During the fellowship year, Fellows remain in their jobs and meet every 6-8 weeks throughout the year for 4 seminars and 2 collaborative projects, each about a week long. In addition to the three core areas of Acumen’s leadership model, Fellows also meet with prominent leaders from across sectors, and create strong relationships with their cohort and Acumen Fellows Alumni around the world.

Foundations of Leadership Seminar

Fellows learn about Acumen’s model and leadership philosophy, explore the philosophical roots of a just society through discussions based on the Socratic method, and set leadership goals for the fellowship year.

Moral Imagination Seminar

The core of this seminar is a multi-day workshop focused on adaptive leadership facilitated by the Cambridge Leadership Associates. Through this training, Fellows evaluate their strengths and weaknesses, clarify their purpose in life, and apply the concept of adaptive leadership to changing the world.

Financial Skills Seminar

Fellows learn key financial tools for social impact leaders – including personal finance, basic business economics, and ethics. During this seminar, Income/Outcome leads a business simulation designed to engage individuals at any level of financial skill.

Operational Excellence Seminar

This seminar features a design thinking workshop facilitated by IDEO.org in which Fellows apply the human-centered design process to a real-life social problem. Fellows also learn about project management, organizational structure, and best practices in scaling social impact organizations.

Collaborative Projects

Over the course of the fellowship year, Fellows design and implement two different collaborative projects: a Learning Trip and an Innovation Conference. These projects provide the Fellows an opportunity to put the skills developed during the fellowship into practice, and guide their own learning.

Learning Trip

At the midpoint of the fellowship year, Fellows organize a Learning Trip, in which Fellows explore different models of social change and development in their region. Fellows determine the location and manage everything from transportation and lodging, to site visits and reflection activities.

Innovation Conference

At the end of the fellowship year, Fellows organize an Innovation Conference. The purpose of this conference is to create a forum to showcase innovation in the social impact sector and to host a dialogue to bring together key players in the region. Fellows are completely responsible for the theme and logistics of the conference.

Beyond the Fellowship

The fellowship is more than just a one-year program – it is the start of a lifelong leadership journey and the beginning of a lasting relationship with Acumen Fellows Alumni around the world.

Alumni Network

After graduating from any of our Fellows Programs – either East Africa, Pakistan, India, or Global – all of our Fellows join a single, united Fellows Alumni group. Acumen understands that leadership can be a lonely journey, and the Alumni body acts as a support system where Fellows can not only push each other but also collaborate to achieve their goals. Alumni are also actively involved in selecting future cohorts, get exclusive invitations to Acumen events, and receive a quarterly Alumni Newsletter. In addition, there are a number of examples of Alumni working together on new businesses and social impact initiatives.

Acumen’s Global Community

Alumni not only maintain their connection to their fellow Fellows, but also to Acumen’s extensive global community of advisors and peer organizations. Alumni have been able to leverage our network to gain connections to investors, job opportunities and mentors.

Our Corporate & Foundation Partners

Meet the Regional Fellows

  • Close Drawer abbas

    Abbas Dadla

    “Abbas is a Regional Manager with Avanti Learning Centres, an organization which combines technology and peer collaboration to reduce teacher dependency and provide a world...” [READ MORE]

    Abbas is a Regional Manager with Avanti Learning Centres, an organization which combines technology and peer collaboration to reduce teacher dependency and provide a world class education at affordable rates. Avanti currently prepares over 600 low income high school students across 7 cities in India for the competitive engineering entrance examinations in partnership with affordable school systems. Abbas manages Avanti’s Mumbai operations. He hails from Mumbai, and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering from IIT Bombay.

  • Close Drawer abhilasha

    Abhilasha Sinha

    “Abhilasha is a Product Manager with Avanti Learning Centres, an organization which combines technology and peer collaboration to reduce teacher dependency and provide a world...” [READ MORE]

    Abhilasha is a Product Manager with Avanti Learning Centres, an organization which combines technology and peer collaboration to reduce teacher dependency and provide a world class education at affordable rates. Avanti currently works with over 600 low-income high school students across 7 cities in partnership with affordable school systems. Abhilasha manages the development of curriculum at Avanti. She is from New Delhi and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering from IIT Delhi.

  • Close Drawer arushi

    Arushi Chowdhury Khanna

    “Arushi heads the Enterprise Support Program at AIACA (the All-India Artisans and Craftworkers Welfare Association), which conducts market-based, value-chain interventions...” [READ MORE]

    Arushi heads the Enterprise Support Program at AIACA (the All-India Artisans and Craftworkers Welfare Association), which conducts market-based, value-chain interventions to build sustainable artisan-based enterprises in rural India. Prior to AIACA, she has worked at the grassroots level with a broad spectrum of commercial, governmental and non-profit organisations in the craft sector. Arushi is from Mumbai, holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from St. Xavier’s College, a certificate in Mathematics for Economic Application from IIT-Bombay and a Master’s Degree from the National Institute of Fashion Technology.

  • Close Drawer girdhari

    Girdhari Bora

    “Girdhari is an ICT Advisor at IntraHealth International, which works with governments, NGOs, and the private sector to empower health workers to better serve communities in...” [READ MORE]

    Girdhari is an ICT Advisor at IntraHealth International, which works with governments, NGOs, and the private sector to empower health workers to better serve communities in need. Girdhari developed mSakhi, an innovative mobile based learning and counseling tool for Community Health Workers and leads execution of the same in several villages in Uttar Pradesh. He is a native Himalayan and has a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Engineering from the Institute of Engineering and Technology, Indore.

  • Close Drawer jyotirmoy

    Jyotirmoy Chatterji

    “Jyotirmoy is the Co-founder of Project Chirag, a youth-led initiative to provide rural households with solar lighting. Through Project Chirag, Jyotirmoy has been instrumental...” [READ MORE]

    Jyotirmoy is the Co-founder of Project Chirag, a youth-led initiative to provide rural households with solar lighting. Through Project Chirag, Jyotirmoy has been instrumental in helping light up 6,000+ houses across 156 villages in 4 Indian states. Jyotirmoy also works with FirstRand Bank as a CSR Consultant, apart from consulting for various social enterprises and NGOs. He is from Mumbai and holds a Master’s Degree in Management from H.R. College, Mumbai.

  • Close Drawer kirti

    Kirti Vardhana

    “Kirti is the Head of Consulting at LabourNet, which is a social enterprise that enables livelihoods for workers in the informal sector by providing access to training, employment...” [READ MORE]

    Kirti is the Head of Consulting at LabourNet, which is a social enterprise that enables livelihoods for workers in the informal sector by providing access to training, employment and financial inclusion. In his current role, he leads the development of LabourNet’s products and manages consulting projects within the vocational skills development domain. Kirti is from Bangalore and holds a Master’s Degree in Human Resources Management from Symbiosis Centre for Distance Learning

  • Close Drawer prerak

    Prerak Mehta

    “Prerak is an independent research and design consultant working to improve healthcare in rural India through projects in neonatal & maternal healthcare, diabetes, medication...” [READ MORE]

    Prerak is an independent research and design consultant working to improve healthcare in rural India through projects in neonatal & maternal healthcare, diabetes, medication adherence and remote diagnostics. He has been working with entrepreneurial as well as established ventures like Embrace, Quetzal, Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design and Oracle. Prerak holds a Master’s Degree in Design from IIT Bombay, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science from Nirma University.

  • Close Drawer barigela

    Ram Barigela

    “Ram is the Senior Program Officer with Watershed Support Services and Activities Network (WASSAN), a resource support organization involved in natural resource management...” [READ MORE]

    Ram is the Senior Program Officer with Watershed Support Services and Activities Network (WASSAN), a resource support organization involved in natural resource management and livelihood promotion in rainfed areas of India. He focuses on working with shepherds and goat rearers in the Mahabubnagar district, one of the largest and most underdeveloped districts of Telangana, by promoting viable business models for economic development. He holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work from Osmania University.

  • Close Drawer rupal

    Rupal Nayar

    “Rupal is the Co-founder of Zaya, a non-profit working to bridge the achievement gap for students in low income schools around the world. Prior to Zaya, Rupal worked as a Business...” [READ MORE]

    Rupal is the Co-founder of Zaya, a non-profit working to bridge the achievement gap for students in low income schools around the world. Prior to Zaya, Rupal worked as a Business & Strategy Consultant at Bain & Company. Rupal is from New Delhi, and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from St. Xaviers College and a Master’s Degree in Finance and Economics from the University of Warwick.

  • Close Drawer sathya

    Sathya Raghu

    “Sathya is the Co-founder and CFO at Cosmos Green Pvt Ltd, an organization that works for the emancipation of small and marginal farmers from penury through an inclusive development...” [READ MORE]

    Sathya is the Co-founder and CFO at Cosmos Green Pvt Ltd, an organization that works for the emancipation of small and marginal farmers from penury through an inclusive development model of partnership with farmers. His role involves devising the organization’s business strategy for financial sustainability, marketing, and performance monitoring. In addition, Sathya has trained 15,000 students of Chartered Accountancy in Accounting , Auditing & Finance and is a Professor at the Spellbound Centre for Professional Studies, Hyderabad. Sathya is from Hyderabad and is a trained Chartered Accountant from the Institute of Chartered Accountants, India.

  • Close Drawer abhijit

    Abhijeet Barse

    “Abhijeet is the CEO of SlumSoccer, an organization that runs football programs for the most disadvantaged members of Indian society. The decrease in harmful activities such...” [READ MORE]

    Abhijeet is the CEO of SlumSoccer, an organization that runs football programs for the most disadvantaged members of Indian society. The decrease in harmful activities such as violence and drug use and the improvement in the participants’ lives inspired SlumSoccer to expand its programs to over 15 cities. Previously, Abhijeet was a Lecturer in the Department of Zoology at Nagpur University. Abhijeet is from Nagpur and has a PhD in Inland Aquaculture from the Central Institute of Fisheries Education.

  • Close Drawer achyutha

    Achyutha Sharma

    “Achyutha is the Founder of Collaborative Community, which offers design consulting services to social sector organizations and to businesses driving positive impact. He has...” [READ MORE]

    Achyutha is the Founder of Collaborative Community, which offers design consulting services to social sector organizations and to businesses driving positive impact. He has worked with several companies in branding, retail, and design consulting, and has an active interest in the cultural sector and creative entrepreneurship. Achyutha holds a Bachelor’s Degree from the National Institute of Fashion Technology.

  • Close Drawer charu

    Charu Chadha

    “Charu is the Country Manager for CycleTel India, a mobile-enabled family planning tool developed by the Institute of Reproductive Health at Georgetown University. Previously,...” [READ MORE]

    Charu is the Country Manager for CycleTel India, a mobile-enabled family planning tool developed by the Institute of Reproductive Health at Georgetown University. Previously, Charu was as a Shell Foundation Fellow where she worked with Dharma Life, a company that supports rural entrepreneurs. She also has significant experience working with state governments in India to formulate public policy. Charu is from Delhi, is a trained architect, and holds an MBA from the University of Oxford.

  • Close Drawer Ihitashri

    Ihitashri Shandilya

    “Ihitashri is the Founder & CEO of MITHILAsmita Art & Craft Pvt. Ltd., a folk art organization working to generate employment for women artisans in north Bihar through...” [READ MORE]

    Ihitashri is the Founder & CEO of MITHILAsmita Art & Craft Pvt. Ltd., a folk art organization working to generate employment for women artisans in north Bihar through preserving and promoting the centuries-old Madhubani (Mithila) painting form. Prior to starting her enterprise, Ihitashri worked as a SAP Consultant for several years. She is originally from Madhubani, and is currently based out of Bangalore. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering from National Institute of Technology, Kurukshetra.

  • Close Drawer kaushik

    Kaushik K

    “Kaushik is the Project Manager for Special Projects at B-ABLE, an organization providing sustainable market-driven vocational training and livelihood services to under-privileged...” [READ MORE]

    Kaushik is the Project Manager for Special Projects at B-ABLE, an organization providing sustainable market-driven vocational training and livelihood services to under-privileged youth. He joined B-ABLE in 2009 as part of the start-up team, setting-up and managing the organization’s first training center. Kaushik is from Hyderabad and has Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees from IIT Kharagpur.

  • Close Drawer manjushree

    Manjushree Patil

    “Manjushree is a seasoned education professional with more than 20 years of experience. She is the founder of Aatman Academy, a specialized instruction school that caters to...” [READ MORE]

    Manjushree is a seasoned education professional with more than 20 years of experience. She is the founder of Aatman Academy, a specialized instruction school that caters to the learning needs of students with learning disabilities such as dyslexia. She is from Mumbai and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Special Education from the SNDT Women’s University along with a Master’s Degree in Teacher Education from IIP Lucknow.

  • Close Drawer prerit

    Prerit Rana

    “Prerit is the Co-founder and CEO at Agrasar, an organization committed to sustainable socioeconomic development of marginalized communities through systematically helping...” [READ MORE]

    Prerit is the Co-founder and CEO at Agrasar, an organization committed to sustainable socioeconomic development of marginalized communities through systematically helping them build capacities and realize their true potential through skills development. He is a social development professional with training and capacity building as key focus areas. He is from New Delhi and holds a Master’s Degree in Rural Management from IRMA.

  • Close Drawer ramakrishna

    Ramakrishna NK

    “Ram is the Founder and CEO of Rang De, a platform to support low-income entrepreneurs access low-cost capital for livelihoods, education and health. Prior to starting Rang...” [READ MORE]

    Ram is the Founder and CEO of Rang De, a platform to support low-income entrepreneurs access low-cost capital for livelihoods, education and health. Prior to starting Rang De, Ram has held various positions in the technology and software development fields. Ram is from Bangalore and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Production Engineering from Nagarjuna University. He is also an Ashoka Fellow.

  • Close Drawer sapna

    Sapna Surendran

    “Sapna is a Research Associate with the Columbia Global Centre - South Asia, which supports the Government of India in improving access to quality maternal and child healthcare...” [READ MORE]

    Sapna is a Research Associate with the Columbia Global Centre – South Asia, which supports the Government of India in improving access to quality maternal and child healthcare and strengthens service delivery in rural India. She is from Bangalore and is currently based in Mumbai. Sapna is a dental surgeon from the KLE’s Institute of Dental Sciences, Karnataka and has a Master’s Degree in Public Health from Columbia University.

  • Close Drawer vasumathi

    Vasumathi Kothuru

    “Vasumathi is the Vice President at Indian Grameen Services (IGS), BASIX, a micro-banking solutions company with a mission of incubating innovations for pro-poor sustainable...” [READ MORE]

    Vasumathi is the Vice President at Indian Grameen Services (IGS), BASIX, a micro-banking solutions company with a mission of incubating innovations for pro-poor sustainable livelihoods. Vasumathi has worked in livelihood promotion, micro-banking and agriculture extension services for the past 15 years. She is from Hyderabad, holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Agriculture and is a Certified Associate of the Indian Institute of Banking (CAIIB).