Pakistan Fellows are driving real change in their own communities.
Each year, the Pakistan Fellows Program brings together 20 emerging leaders from different regions, sectors, and socio-economic backgrounds in Pakistan.
The Acumen Pakistan Fellows Program is a one-year, fully-funded leadership development program that gives 20 individuals from across Pakistan the training they need to accelerate their social impact and leadership potential.
Our Fellows come from diverse cultural, geographic, and socioeconomic backgrounds and share a commitment to ending poverty in their communities. Fellows remain in their jobs over the year and meet for five week-long seminars where they receive world-class financial and operational skills training. Through the program, Fellows build strong networks of social change leaders within their cohort and Acumen’s global community.
Who Becomes a Regional Fellow
- Individuals who are working to end poverty in their community through some kind of social change project.
- Though many of our Fellows work in the social enterprise space, selected Fellows can be working in any sector (i.e. for-profit, non-profit, social enterprise, government) in any issue area (i.e. human rights, agriculture, education, etc). We will also consider a handful of exceptional individuals who are not currently engaged in a project, but have significant experience or show strong leadership potential.
- Fellows can be entrepreneurs who started their own organization, or individuals who are influencing change within an existing organization.
- Selected Fellows are entrepreneurial in their attitudes, mindset, and approach. That doesn’t mean each Fellow has to be running or leading a new organization; it means that you take risk and don’t accept the old ways of doing things as good enough.
- Fellows come from of all age groups and education levels, but must be able to fully participate in a program that is conducted in English.
- Fellows must be from Pakistan and must show a demonstrated commitment and concrete connection to Pakistan.
- Fellows must demonstrate strong personal integrity, unrelenting perseverance, and moral imagination.
- Fellows must be ready and willing to undergo an intensive year-long personal transformation and leadership journey.
Regional Fellows Training
During each seminar, Fellows receive world-class trainings on topics ranging from design thinking to adaptive leadership. By joining the program, Fellows gain access to Acumen’s extensive network of mentors and investors, and join a global community of leaders who are working together to change the world.
Seminar 1: Foundations of Leadership
The first seminar focuses on group formation and introduces Acumen’s patient capital model and leadership philosophy. The core session is the Good Society Readings. Through this series of facilitated discussions on the works of great thinkers such as Plato, King, Gandhi, Mandela and Jinnah, Fellows explore the meaning of a just society and think more broadly about the historical and moral traditions of social change work.
Seminar 2: Adaptive Leadership & Moral Imagination
The second seminar pushes Fellows to reflect on their leadership strengths and weaknesses, clarify their purpose in life, and develop their storytelling abilities. The core of this training is a multi-day workshop on Adaptive Leadership facilitated by the Cambridge Leadership Associates.
Seminar 3: Financial & Operational Skills
At the midpoint of the fellowship year, the cohort focuses on building financial and operational skills mainly through experiential learning. Through sessions facilitated by IDEO.org and Income/Outcome, Fellows gain a strong understanding of the human-centered design process and the basic level of literacy in finance and accounting necessary to grow their organizations and projects. In addition, Fellows experiment with building new business models using the Lean Start-Up methodology.
Seminar 4: Learning Trip
The Learning trip gives Fellows a deeper understanding of poverty in their region and their role as a changemaker. Fellows travel to a new area, engage with the local community, and meet with thought leaders and innovators who are creating positive change.
Seminar 5: Leading into the Future
At the end of the fellowship year, Fellows reflect on their leadership journey, make plans to stay connected, and set goals for continuing their work in social change. This seminar also includes guest speakers and a graduation ceremony celebrating the completion of the fellowship.
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.
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.
How to Apply
Applications are now closed.
The Application Process
The online application consists of:
- Background information
- 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.
Click here to download a printable version of the application.
The Selection Process
The selection process for this program is very rigorous and highly competitive. Here is a general timeline of the process:
- Applications open: August 1, 2014
- Applications close: September 29, 2014
- Telephone Interviews: October 2014
- In-Person Interviews: November 2014
- Final Selection: December 2014
Our Corporate & Foundation Partners
Pakistan Regional Fellows in the News
Announcing the Pakistan Fellows Class of 2014
IDSP: A Life-Changer
My Experience as a Pakistan Regional Fellow
Meet the Regional Fellows
“Abid is the President of Nawabshah Disability Forum” [READ MORE]
Abid is the President of Nawabshah Disability Forum (NDF), an NGO working for the rehabilitation of persons with disabilities. One of the projects of NDF is ‘The Empowerment Center of Women with Disabilities’, which has developed vocational skills in more than 500 vulnerable people. Abid is from Nawabshah and holds a Master’s Degree in Sociology from Shah Abdul Latif University.
“Adnan is the Founder and CEO of IdeaCentricity” [READ MORE]
Adnan is the Founder and CEO of IdeaCentricity, an organization dedicated to ideas for social impact with focus on poverty alleviation. One of IdeaCentricity’s projects is Odd Jobber, a convenient market place for low-income workers that uses the mobile phone network to match workers with jobs based on their proximity to the service request point and service ratings. Adnan is from Lahore and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from LUMS.
“Asad is the Co-Fonder and Managing Director of the Social Innovation Desk.” [READ MORE]
Asad is the Co-Fonder and Managing Director of the Social Innovation Desk, which tackles social justice and poverty issues through social enterprise incubation and advocacy. In addition to providing strategic development and outreach support to social enterprises, the Social Innovation Desk’s work also engages with youth, academia, government, and the private sector. Asad is also the Co-Founder of the Literary Pakistan, an initiative that provides an alternate, critical voice from Pakistan that reaches 5,000 young Pakistanis and has a team of over 100 people across three continents. Asad lives in Lahore and holds a Bachelor’s degree in the Social Sciences from the Lahore University of Management Sciences.
“Daniyal is the CEO of KaroKuc” [READ MORE]
Daniyal is the CEO of KaroKuch, a studio creating media content addressing social issues and creating positive narratives in Pakistan. KaroKuch most recently created an animated series by the name of Quaid se Baatain, designed to help instill positive civic values within Pakistanis. Daniyal is from Lahore and holds an MBA from INSEAD with a focus in Entrepreneurship and Innovation.
“Fahad is a Project Manager at Karachi Relief Trust” [READ MORE]
Fahad is a Project Manager at Karachi Relief Trust, a disaster relief organization that has helped more than 55,000 people with emergency aid & housed almost 12,000 in sustainable housing since 2010. Fahad has lead teams in construction, clean water, infrastructure development, and school rebuilding projects. Fahad is from Karachi and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce from the University of Karachi.
“Imran is the Co-Founder and Managing Director of Rabtt” [READ MORE]
Imran is the Co-Founder and Managing Director of Rabtt, which connects with students from low-cost schools through camps and workshops and works to enhance their critical thinking, tolerance and creative abilities. Rabtt has reached 800 students and has engaged 130 volunteer instructors so far. Imran lives in Lahore and holds a Master’s in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School.
“Jamshaid is the Manager Projects at Ansaar Management Company” [READ MORE]
Jamshaid is the Manager Projects at Ansaar Management Company (AMC), a social enterprise taking on the challenge of developing low-income housing in Pakistan. Jamshaid plays a critical role in all aspects of AMC projects from proposal development and land acquisition to project implementation and community development. Jamshaid is from Gujranwala and holds a Master’s degree in Finance & Accounting from Preston Institute of Management Sciences And Technology.
“Maryam is the Director of the Social Innovation Lab at LUMS” [READ MORE]
Maryam is the Director of the Social Innovation Lab at LUMS, which houses a Social Enterprise incubator called ‘The Hatchery’ and also offers courses on social justice, social innovation, human centered design and social enterprise. Additionally, Maryam co-founded a magazine and platform called ‘Literaty Pakistan.’ Maryam lives in Lahore and holds a LL.M. degree from University of California, Berkeley.
“Mohammad Ahsan is the Executive Director of Rural Development Project” [READ MORE]
Mohammad Ahsan is the Executive Director of Rural Development Project (RDP), which aims to improve the socio-economic conditions of poor and disaster affected communities and empower them through sustainable agriculture and livestock management practices. Ahsan is currently working to develop a “Model Livestock Resource Center” (MLRC) to address food security problems in KPK. He is from Haripur and holds a Master’s degree in International Intercultural Management from Vermont, USA.
“Muhammad Ali is an Ashoka Fellow and Founder & Executive Director of Roshni Helpline” [READ MORE]
Muhammad Ali is an Ashoka Fellow and Founder & Executive Director of Roshni Helpline, which focuses on the tracing, reunification and rehabilitation of missing children in Sindh. He has established Pakistan’s 1st helpline for missing children “1138”. Since establishing Roshni Helpline in 2007, Muhammad Ali has served more than 2,000 cases of missing and exploited children. Muhammad Ali is from Karachi and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Social Science from the University of Karachi.
“Naeem is the Founder and CEO of Frontier Rural Development Program” [READ MORE]
Naeem is the Founder and CEO of Frontier Rural Development Program (FRDP), which aims to increase awareness on women’s rights. FRDP has conducted seminars to educate students in Karak, Bannu and Lakki Marwat on their legal rights in fighting violence against women. In addition, FRDP works to protect the rights of children. The NGO also conducted a campaign to spread the word on women’s voting rights during the 2013 election. Naeem is from Peshawar and holds a Master’s degree in History from Quaid-e-Azam University.
“Safdar is a Fellow at the Institute for Development Studies & Practices (IDSP).” [READ MORE]
Safdar is a Fellow at the Institute for Development Studies & Practices (IDSP), where he is working to establish a University of Community Development at Quetta, Balochistan. Through this university, Safdar and IDSP hope to impact 1 million people by supporting the development of businesses that thrive on green and ecological friendly technologies. Safdar has worked with IDSP for over 10 years on projects ranging from traditional architecture, organic farming, solar and wind energy, biogas, water conservation, and recycling. Safdar is from Mastung District and holds a Master’s degree in Computer Science from Al-Khair University Peshawar.
“Sarah is the Founder and Director of LettuceBee Kids” [READ MORE]
Sarah is the Founder and Director of LettuceBee Kids, which is developing self-sustaining entrepreneurial solutions to reintegrate street-children back into society. Through art therapy sessions and exhibitions, LettuceBee Kids has directly impacted more than 100 children. Sarah is from Islamabad, is a Fulbright Scholar and a graduate of Rhode Island School of Design, where she was the recipient of the Award of Excellence.
“Sumaira is a Program Manager with the Dr. Akhter Hameed Khan Memorial Trust (AHKMT).” [READ MORE]
Sumaira is a Program Manager with the Dr. Akhter Hameed Khan Memorial Trust (AHKMT) where she manages a solid waste management project called e-Guard. e-Guard operates in 6 cities throughout Pakistan and is in 3,000 households. Sumaira has experience across many issue areas including microcredit, conservation, and education. Sumaira is from Rawalpindi and holds a Bachelor’s degree from Punjab University.
“Usman is the Executive Director of the M.H.Sufi Foundation” [READ MORE]
Usman is the Executive Director of the M.H.Sufi Foundation, a non-profit organization working to develop a network of schools that promote and provide quality education to rural areas of Pakistan. The Foundation currently has 12 schools in the district of Hafizabad, which has 4,000 students and 250 teachers. The Foundation plans to develop a total of 25 schools in the district which at full capacity would have 30,000 students. Usman is from Lahore and holds a bachelors degree in Economics from Queens University, Canada.
“Zeba is the Regional Program Director of DI” [READ MORE]
Zeba is the Regional Program Director of DIL (Developments in Literacy), which empowers marginalized communities by providing their children’s, especially girls’, access to quality education. Zeba oversees DIL’s operations across in Sindh and Balochistan, reaching approximately 5,000 students. Zeba is from Karachi and holds a Master’s degree in French Language and Literature from California State University.
“Abubakr is the Chief Coordinator of Akhuwat.” [READ MORE]
Abubakr is the Chief Coordinator of Akhuwat, which provides interest-free microfinance services with a sustainable approach to development. Akhuwat has disbursed over PKR 3.5 billion (about USD 35 million) in loans, benefiting more than 250,000 families across over 85 cities. Akhuwat has a recovery percentage of 99.85%. Abubakr has a diverse set of experiences across a number of fields including banking, agriculture, manufacturing, and healthcare. He is from Lahore and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business from Western Michigan University.
“Ahmad is the Coordinator for the Global Citizen Corps (GCC) Youth Leadership Program.” [READ MORE]
Ahmad is the Coordinator for the Global Citizen Corps (GCC) Youth Leadership Program in the Swat District, which inspires and equips an expanding international network of young leaders to take informed actions to build secure, productive and just communities. GCC has engaged 4,200 youth through trainings, peer education, lesson deliveries and social activism. Ahmad is from Swat and has a Master’s degree in Gender Studies from the University of Peshawar.
“Asim is the Director of the Technology for the People Initiative (TPI).” [READ MORE]
Asim is the Director of the Technology for the People Initiative (TPI), which develops technology solutions to improve service delivery in the public sector. TPI works with the police and judiciary on improving their internal processes through technology, such as crime maps. Asim also works for the World Bank on promoting governance reform using information technology, such as using feedback to reduce corruption. In the past, Asim has organized TEDxLahore and also co-founded SMSall.pk, Pakistan’s first group SMS network. Asim is from Lahore and holds a Bachelor’s degree of Science from LUMS with major in Computer Science.
“Fahad is a Project Manager with Basic Education and Employable Skills Training” [READ MORE]
Fahad is a Project Manager with Basic Education and Employable Skills Training (BEST), where he is managing the FATA Livelihood Project. His project works to enhance the capacity of the locals through the promotion of a resilient and sustainable livelihood approach. Fahad is from Peshawar and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Software Engineering from UET, Peshawar and is pursuing Masters in Development Studies from Institute of Management Studies, Peshawar.
“Imran is the leader of a number of organizations including Dugdugi.” [READ MORE]
Imran is the leader of a number of organizations including Dugdugi, which use the power of art for social development. He uses various mediums such as visual art, theatre, or photography and works with communities to support creative expression and empowerment. Imran’s creative projects over the last 5 years focus on empowering people who are facing life hardships to achieve self-awareness to become their best selves. Imran is based in Lahore, holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Karachi, and is working to launch a new project called Khayal, a school for creative empowerment.
“Isfundiar is the Program Director of the Imran Khan Foundation (IKF).” [READ MORE]
Isfundiar is the Program Director of the Imran Khan Foundation (IKF), which was established in 2010 to serve Pakistan’s most needy populations in the post-disaster environment. Over 1 million people have been impacted by IKF through the provision of food, medicine, shelter, the restoration of farmland, and the reconstruction of homes. Isfundiar has 10 years of experience across various sectors, has worked in banking, sales, and marketing, and is the Founder of Flat World Media, a video content producer that documents the work of NGOs operating in Pakistan. Isfundiar was born in the US, grew up in Karachi, and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from University of the Punjab.
“Khawaja is the CEO of Tourplanner.pk” [READ MORE]
Khawaja is the CEO of Tourplanner.pk, a start-up aiming to brand and develop Kashmir as a tourist destination in order to boost the local economy. Tourplanner.pk has been viewed by over 30,000 internet users in Pakistan and has been joined by over 100 hotel vendors. Khawaja is from Muzaffarabad and holds an MBA in Management from the IBA, Karachi.
“Mashall is the Founder and Director of Operations of Reading Room Project” [READ MORE]
Mashall is the Founder and Director of Operations of Reading Room Project (RRP), which uses the Internet and blended learning to teach Pakistani low-income students how to self-learn. RRP just finished its one-year pilot in February 2014 where 30 students completed a 12-month intensive program in Digital Literacy, Mathematics and English. Mashall is from Karachi and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Foreign Service from Georgetown University.
“Mohammad is a Director at the Institute for Development Studies & Practices (IDSP).” [READ MORE]
Mohammad is a Director at the Institute for Development Studies & Practices (IDSP), where he is working to establish University of Community Development at Quetta, Balochistan. Over the last 14 years, IDSP has trained 6,000 youth of Balochistan in social, economic, and political development. Mohammad is from the Loralai District of Balochistan and holds a Master’s degree in Political Studies from Quid-i-Azam University.
“The fellowship provided me an opportunity to get to know some talented young people with creative ideas about how to solve problems of the marginalized communities of Pakistan.” [READ MORE]
Muhammad Saeed is the Chief Executive at Raabta Consultants, which develops low-tech communication systems for humanitarian and development organizations to increase two-way engagement. These systems have been used to send disaster warnings to over 25,000 individuals in hard-to-reach areas, as well as to send security updates to hundreds of journalists. Muhammad Saeed has experience in various sectors including academia, taxation, public health, gender justice, governance reforms, univeral primary education, adult literacy, post disaster recovery and communications. Muhammad Saeed is from Frontier Regions of Bannu (FATA). He holds a Master’s degree in Political Science from the University of the Punjab and has remained a research scholar at University Science Malaysia.
“Rabia is the Managing Director of SunShine.” [READ MORE]
Rabia is the Managing Director of SunShine, which designs and implements teacher training programs and provides educational equipment to schools. SunShine has grown from serving 20 children to over 900 students in Punjab in only a few years. Rabia has experience in education and community development and has worked with various organizations like Kashf Foundation and CARE Foundation. She holds an MBA in Finance from the University of Punjab and a Master’s degree in Development Studies from University of New South Wales, Australia. Rabia is originally from Dandot, a village in the Chakwal District of Punjab, and now lives in Lahore.
“Sameen is the Project Manager of Zara Sochiye.” [READ MORE]
Sameen is the Project Manager of Zara Sochiye, which is a media campaign aiming to establish education as a primary issue in Pakistani politics. By highlighting the most pressing problems that affect learning in government schools, the campaign aims to create political will and an enabling environment for meaningful education reforms. Sameen has experience working on economic development issues with organizations like the Aga Khan Agency for Microfinance, Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund, and the Kashf Foundation. Sameen is based in Karachi, and holds an MPA in International Development from Harvard Kennedy School.
“Shahid is the Founder of Interfaith Youth in Action (IYA).” [READ MORE]
Shahid is the Founder of Interfaith Youth in Action (IYA), which engages young people in interfaith dialogues to discuss issues like extremism and religious conflicts. IYA has trained over 600 young people and domestic women workers in interfaith issues. He has worked with Pax Romana ICMICA to develop programs for Christian communities living in Pakistan, and with the Pakistan Telecommunications Company. Shahid is from Lahore and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Math and Economics from Punjab University.
“Surkhab is the Chief Operating Officer of PAKSBAB.” [READ MORE]
Surkhab is the Chief Operating Officer of PAKSBAB, which offers innovative natural building solutions using local materials and labor to provide affordable yet high-impact housing in Pakistan. Since 2006, PAKSBAB has trained 70 people and built 40 low-cost, energy-efficient, and disaster-resistant homes in northern Pakistan. Surkhab has experience in community development and has worked with BEST/UNHCR and Dosti Welfare Organization doing monitoring and evaluation, disaster relief in earthquakre affected areas, and facilitating training sessions. Surkhab is from Abbottabad and hols a Master’s degree in Development Studies from COMCAST Abbottabad.
“Leaders aren't usually the best swimmers out there, but are always the first few to take the risk of crossing river. Acumen has taught me that leading the change is worth the risk.” [READ MORE]
Waqas is the Founder of Hometown, an e-commerce startup which helps impoverished craftsmen make high-end leather products to sell in the global market. Since its launch in June 2012, Hometown has grown its sales network to over 17 countries. Waqas is an avid blogger, an activist against internet censorship in Pakistan, and the Founder of Smart Digital Media Agency. Originally from Basirpur, Waqas now lives in Lahore.