DO YOU HAVE WHAT IT TAKES TO BE AN ACUMEN FELLOW? BE PART OF A NEW GENERATION THAT'S REDEFINING LEADERSHIP.
The Global Fellows Program trains the next generation of social impact leaders
Gain world-class leadership training. Serve in the field with a social enterprise. Join a cohort of emerging leaders who will change the world.
Now in its 11th year, the Global Fellows Program is a 12-month fellowship for individuals dedicated to changing the way the world tackles poverty. We are looking for potential social sector leaders who embody service above self. Leaders who take a systems change approach to the world’s biggest problems and have the moral imagination to effect long term change. Leaders who are strong collaborators, are self-aware and adaptive. Leaders who are dedicated to addressing the problems of poverty and bring a blend of leadership capabilities and strong business skills to the table. Acumen Fellows are a different kind of leader. And one day, they’re going to change the world.
The fellowship begins with eight weeks of training in the Acumen New York office, where Fellows build their understanding of the problems of poverty, the current tensions in the sector as we explore solutions and understand the role we have to play. The 2 months are also an exploration and reflection on Self, Other, and System, requiring deep introspection, and a willingness to change our own values, beliefs, and behaviors, before we can effect change in the world.
After training, each Fellow is placed with a company within Acumen’s ecosystem where they work on a key business challenge. In the past Fellows have worked on projects ranging from leading operations of a new business unit at a cotton ginnery in Uganda, to leading operations at a coffee processing company in Rwanda, to building partnerships for a vocational skills training company in India.
Since 2006, we have received more than 5,000 applications from 110 countries and trained 97 Fellows from over 25 countries. After the Fellowship year, Fellows continue to create social change, with 85% of the Fellows currently in leadership positions at socially progressive organizations such as IDEO.org, Endeavor, Bamboo Finance, New Island Capital, Omidyar Network, MercyCorp, Gates Foundation, Andela and Silatech.
Fellowship Year Overview
September to mid-November
The Global Fellowship begins with two months of intensive training at the Acumen offices in New York. The training curriculum is based on the three core principles of moral imagination, operational expertise, and financial experience. Acumen partners with some of the foremost organizations to deliver this leadership curriculum.
Mid-November to August
For nine months, Fellows work at companies within Acumen’s ecosystem as key staff members. Fellows work directly with entrepreneurs, provide strategic input on pressing business challenges, interact with customers, and grapple, first-hand, with the complex issues of addressing the needs of the poor.
Debrief & Beyond
September & Onwards
Fellows return to New York to share their experiences and insights with the Acumen staff and community. The Fellowship culminates in an evening Fellows Celebration in mid-September to recognize and reflect on the work. After September, Fellows join a growing interconnected community. Fellows stay in touch through newsletters, a group listserv that shares updates and upcoming opportunities – whether job postings, fellowship or funding opportunities – and through regular happy hours, meet ups and gatherings in their local community. Fellows also participate and play an active role in future selection of Acumen Global Fellows.
Global Fellows Program Partners
The Brinson Foundation • Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women • The Harnisch Foundation • King Khalid Foundation • The Partridge Foundation • The Tokyo Foundation • The Woodcock Foundation
Who Becomes a Global Fellow
Applications for the Global Fellowship are highly competitive. While our Fellows have diverse backgrounds and each brings a unique skill set to the Fellowship, we have identified some key traits:
- Demonstrated passion and commitment to creating positive social change
- Proven track record of collaborative leadership and management responsibilities
- Experience living and working in emerging markets
- Grit, courage, and perseverance
- A minimum of 4 years work experience
- Strong business experience
Global Fellows Training
The Global Fellows Program is a one-year full-time program that begins with two months of intensive training in New York followed by a nine month field placement with a social enterprise in South Asia, Africa or South America.
The curriculum is based on Acumen’s Leadership Model, which consists of three foundational components: moral imagination, operational skills, and financial skills. It is at the intersection of these three core components that the Acumen Leader maximizes his or her ability to drive, sustain, and scale social innovation.
Our curriculum is highly experiential and requires the Fellows to get out of the building, roll up their sleeves and dive in during the eight week training in New York. No day is the same, but each module is designed to provide the Fellows with new tools that will enable them to hit the ground running during their field placements and to drive social change for the long-term. These include modules on Adaptive Leadership, financial skills, Business Model Canvas/Lean Launchpad, design thinking, people management, storytelling and strategic communications.
Acumen partners with key thought leaders and some of the foremost organizations to deliver our leadership curriculum, including Cambridge Leadership Associates, Design Gym, the Ariel Group, and Andromeda Solutions among many others.
Training At a Glance
Week 1: Knowledge transfer with graduating Global Fellows
Week 2: Group Development and Storytelling
Week 3: Moral Imagination and the Foundations of Leadership
Week 4: Adaptive Leadership
Week 5: Operational Skills
Week 6: Good Society Seminar
Week 7: Financial Skills
Week 8: Preparing for the Field and Beyond
Global Fellows Field Placement
At the core of the Global Fellows Program is the nine month field placement, providing each Fellow with on-the-ground experience working for a social enterprise in Acumen’s ecosystem.
Fellows spend nine months working for a social business in Acumen’s ecosystem in the regions where Acumen invests. The focus of each company is as varied as Acumen’s portfolio, ranging from agriculture, to education, to energy, to health, to housing, to water.
Acumen makes placement decisions based on the experience of the Fellows and the needs of the companies.
Global Fellows report directly to senior management of the company and provide critical strategic and management support aimed at building and scaling the organization.
Examples of Fellows’ responsibilities include: overseeing a team of 35 to build and manage the first-ever sesame business for Gulu Agriculture Development Company; leading international market expansion for Orb Energy; developing the rebranding and marketing strategy for Pharmagen Healthcare; and developing standard operating processes for the scale up of the LifeSpring maternity hospital chain.
Beyond The Fellowship
Fellows wrap up their year with a 3 week debrief at Acumen’s New York office and an evening Fellows Celebration event marking the culmination of the year.
Fellows conclude their year with a debrief at Acumen’s New York office to reflect on the year and plan for the future.
During this time, the Fellows reflect on their experience, receive feedback from Acumen and their company, share key insights from the field with the Acumen team and broader community, and reconnect with each other and with leaders in the private, non-profit, and public sectors.
Fellows become a part of Acumen’s wider family and community and remain connected to our work.
The Global Fellows Program is not just a one year program; it is a community of emerging leaders that Acumen is investing in for the long-term.
Acumen seeks to help Fellows stay connected beyond the fellowship year in a number of different ways, including formal and informal events, a quarterly Alumni Newsletter, and by creating platforms for information sharing (i.e. job/funding opportunities) across Regional and Global Fellows cohorts.
Fellows are also very active representatives of the Fellows Program, participating in the recruitment process, presenting at conferences, and speaking to diverse audiences on behalf of the Global Fellows Program. In addition, some of our Fellows are working together on creating new businesses and social impact initiatives.
Global Fellows in the News
Do you have what it takes to change the way the world tackles poverty?
Celebrating the success of d.light
Announcing Acumen’s 2016 Global Fellows
Meet the Global Fellows
Meet the next generation of social sector leaders.
“Adrien is currently an Associate Partner at Dalberg Global Development Advisors, a strategic advisory firm that works to raise living standards in developing countries, and...” [READ MORE]
Adrien is currently an Associate Partner at Dalberg Global Development Advisors, a strategic advisory firm that works to raise living standards in developing countries, and address global challenges. Before this, he served as CEO of a private water solutions company created by and spun off from the Naandi Foundation, one of India’s leading players in community water systems. After the fellowship, Adrien worked at Acumen Fund as the Water Portfolio Manager, based in New York. As a Fellow, he worked with IDE India (IDEI), a designer and distributor of low-cost drip irrigation for smallholder farmers. Adrien supported the first round of financing for GEWP, IDEI’s for-profit spinoff. He also supported the company’s export strategy and spearheaded operational improvements.
“David recently joined TechSoup.org as the Senior Director of Strategy and Impact, and is driving their overall mobile strategy and also heads the team responsible for generating...” [READ MORE]
David recently joined TechSoup.org as the Senior Director of Strategy and Impact, and is driving their overall mobile strategy and also heads the team responsible for generating most of TechSoup’s earned income. The past several years he has been consulting for corporates and non-profits to help them create inclusive businesses and on recent trip to Colombia was able to hang out with Acumen folks from Colombia and India. Right after the Fellowship, David was the Senior Advisor Social Innovations at MercyCorps. As a Fellow, David worked in India with Drishtee, a franchisor of internet kiosks created to deliver affordable goods and services to remote villages. He collaborated with Drishtee to improve their distribution models, integrate new products, strengthen internal communications and develop the organization’s first health care offering.
“Jocelyn Wyatt is the Executive Director and Co-Lead of IDEO.org, the nonprofit organization started by IDEO to address poverty-related challenges through design and to encourage...” [READ MORE]
Jocelyn Wyatt is the Executive Director and Co-Lead of IDEO.org, the nonprofit organization started by IDEO to address poverty-related challenges through design and to encourage the use of our human-centered approach to innovation in the social sector. Previously, Jocelyn led IDEO’s Social Innovation practice, which she expanded over the course of several years.
As an Acumen fellow, Jocelyn worked in Kenya with Advanced Bio-Extracts (ABE), a leading manufacturer and cultivator of Artemisinin. Previously, she served as VisionSpring’s interim country director in India and as International Training Manager for Chemonics International, a USAID contractor in Washington, DC. Jocelyn received an MBA from Thunderbird School of Global Management and a BA in anthropology from Grinnell College in Iowa.
“Nadaa is currently studying Nutrition and Dietetics at Arizona State University. Her goal is the help people adopt a whole foods plant based diet to improve their health and...” [READ MORE]
Nadaa is currently studying Nutrition and Dietetics at Arizona State University. Her goal is the help people adopt a whole foods plant based diet to improve their health and prevent and reverse chronic disease. For three years, she was the CFO and COO of Omedix, a web-based service for healthcare companies that is based in Phoenix, Arizona. As a Fellow, Nadaa worked in India with Medicine Shoppe, an internationally-recognized pharmacy chain that launched a new store format – Sehat Clinics – targeting low-income customers. Nadaa was the project lead for the Sehat Clinics rollout, and focused on developing pricing models, metrics, a community marketing program and staff recruitment. Nadaa led the opening of eight clinics.
Ayeleen is currently working with BYLC (Bangladesh Youth Leadership Centre), an organization creating an enabling environment for youth from diverse backgrounds to engage in critical thinking and service oriented projects. Prior to this she worked with Friendship, a not-for-profit working with isolated, marginalized communities living in extreme poverty. As a Fellow, Ayeleen worked with Kashf Foundation, an organization that provides microfinance services in Pakistan. Ayeleen earned her BS in Mechanical Engineering, an MS in Social Development from London School of Economics and a MBA from Indian School of Business.
“Eric currently works as an investment executive at Swiss-based Bamboo Finance, a commercial social investment fund. As a Fellow, Eric worked in multiple locations with BroadReach,...” [READ MORE]
Eric currently works as an investment executive at Swiss-based Bamboo Finance, a commercial social investment fund. As a Fellow, Eric worked in multiple locations with BroadReach, a third party healthcare administrator for HIV/AIDS treatment, as well as the Scojo Foundation (now VisionSpring), a manufacturer and distributor of affordable reading glasses for the poor. While at BroadReach, Eric spearheaded a feasibility study on the development of franchised health clinics. At Scojo Foundation, he helped streamline their supply chain in order to source and ship glasses more cost-effectively and also assessed the feasibility of launching their work in China.
“Keely currently serves as CEO of Bamboo Finance USA, a commercial investment firm that specializes in the financing of social entrepreneurship globally. Bamboo Finance manages...” [READ MORE]
Keely currently serves as CEO of Bamboo Finance USA, a commercial investment firm that specializes in the financing of social entrepreneurship globally. Bamboo Finance manages more than 250M USD of assets; in 2007, and Keely helped Bamboo Finance launching their first private equity fund, Oasis Fund. As a Fellow, Keely worked in Tanzania with A to Z Textile Mills, the largest manufacturer of long-lasting insecticidetreated anti-malarial bed nets in Africa. While at A to Z, Keely conducted an analysis of cost effective distribution channels. She also worked with the Acumen Fund team to design and implement a standard due diligence process for investments in the East Africa region.