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.

About the Global Fellows Program


Program Overview

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,  Endeavor, Bamboo Finance, New Island Capital, Omidyar Network, MercyCorp, Gates Foundation, Andela and Silatech.

Fellowship Year Overview

Leadership Training

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.

Field Placement

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.

Global Fellows Training CropThe Curriculum

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.

The Trainers

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.

Where Fellows are Placed

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.

IMG_7494What Fellows Work On

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.

TAI featureDebrief and Transition

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.

Fellows_GADCBeyond the Fellowship Year

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.

Meet the Global Fellows

Meet the next generation of social sector leaders.

  • Close Drawer CatherineCaseyNanda_profile

    Catherine Casey Nanda

    “What appeals to me most about Acumen's experiment is that it is working!” [READ MORE]

    Catherine has led Acumen’s geographic expansion to 3 new regions over the last 5 years– setting strategy, building teams, fundraising and investing in new regions.

    Currently focused on building Acumen America, Catherine most recently helped launch Acumen’s Latin America office, based in Bogota, Colombia, and West Africa office, based in Accra, Ghana.

    Prior to this, Catherine helped build social enterprises in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania, which included expanding HealthStores’ clinics in rural Kenya. She also acted as chief of staff to Acumen’s CEO.

    Catherine holds a BA with Highest Honors from Princeton University, and an MPP from Harvard University, where she was a Reynolds Fellow. She is a Board Member of Jacaranda Health, a chain of maternity hospitals in Kenya.


  • Close Drawer Bio2013 JAslam

    Jawad Aslam

    “Jawad is the founder and CEO of Ansaar Management Company, which is the only private...” [READ MORE]

    Jawad is the founder and CEO of Ansaar Management Company, which is the only private sector affordable housing developer in Pakistan. AMC is a for-profit spin off of Saiban, and has received investments from Acumen Fund and Bamboo Finance, and is focusing on scaling low-income housing in Pakistan. As a Fellow, Jawad worked to scale the activities of Saiban, a non-profit housing organization providing urban squatters and low-income groups in Pakistan with access to affordable home ownership and essential amenities. Previously, he worked as a project manager for Saiban and for a land development company in Maryland. He has experience in both the public and private sectors in Pakistan and the US, where he earned an MBA from the University of Baltimore. Jawad lives in Islamabad with his wife and daughter.

  • Close Drawer

    Jon Yates

    “Jon is the Strategy Director and co-founder of The Challenge Network which is one of the UK's leading charities for building a more integrated society. The Challenge Network...” [READ MORE]

    Jon is the Strategy Director and co-founder of The Challenge Network which is one of the UK’s leading charities for building a more integrated society. The Challenge Network runs youth and community programmes – working with over 20,000 people a year – that have the central aim of mixing diverse groups of people with each other. As a Fellow, Jon worked in Kenya with ABE (now Botanical Extracts EPZ Limited, or BEEPZ), where he worked to identify the most effective method for agricultural production, assessed potential new botanical products, as well as supporting the work of the Acumen Fund East Africa office. Jon was previously a Culture and Strategy Leader at Tearfund, one of the UK’s leading development charities, and is a former consultant at McKinsey & Co. He earned a BA at Oxford University.

  • Close Drawer

    Wangari Muchoki

    “Wangari is currently working for Equity Bank, a micro-finance bank based in Nairobi, Kenya. As a Fellow, Wangari worked in Pakistan with the microfinance organization Kashf....” [READ MORE]

    Wangari is currently working for Equity Bank, a micro-finance bank based in Nairobi, Kenya. As a Fellow, Wangari worked in Pakistan with the microfinance organization Kashf. She monitored and evaluated the Health Insurance Pilot and the Home Improvement Loan Pilot, devising strategies for further outreach. She also conducted a poverty study to assess the vulnerabilities of Pakistanis not accessing Kashf’s financial services. She earned an MBA from the University of Nairobi.

  • Close Drawer Fellow Bio2013 CWalker

    Chris Walker

    “Chris currently works for the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition.” [READ MORE]

    Chris currently works for the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition, which is dedicated to supporting the use of food fortification and other strategies aimed at improving the health and nutrition of populations at risk. As a Fellow, Chris worked in India with Dial 1298 for Ambulance, the Mumbai-based provider of emergency medical services with an ethos of service for all. He worked to develop and implement a marketing strategy to raise awareness about the ambulance service as well as providing assistance on business development. He was previously the Associate Director of International Relations at the Millennium Challenge Corporation and an international economist at the U.S. Treasury Department. He earned an MPA from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public & International Affairs at Princeton University.

  • Close Drawer Fellow Bio2013 JTucker

    John Tucker

    “John is currently the Director of Member Experience at Trunk Club, a men’s clothing start-up. Before launching Trunk Club, John worked as a Project Lead for IDEO, a design...” [READ MORE]

    John is currently the Director of Member Experience at Trunk Club, a men’s clothing start-up. Before launching Trunk Club, John worked as a Project Lead for IDEO, a design consulting firm based in New York. As a Fellow, John worked in India with Scojo (now VisionSpring), an investment in low-cost reading glasses in India, where he supported the development of the vision entrepreneur channel, while also designing marketing tools and incentives for micro-franchises. John earned a BA from Bates College.

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    Tricia Morente

    “Tricia currently serves as the COO of Kangu Inc., a non-profit organization protecting the lives and health of pregnant women and babies in the developing world. Before Kangu,...” [READ MORE]

    Tricia currently serves as the COO of Kangu Inc., a non-profit organization protecting the lives and health of pregnant women and babies in the developing world. Before Kangu, Tricia served as Improvement Advisor at the Joint Learning Network for Universal Health Coverage (JLN), an organizing that campaigns for universal health coverage (UHC). Previously, she served as the Marketing Director for LifeSpring Hospitals, which is also where she worked as a Fellow. LifeSpring is a chain of hospitals that provides quality health care to lower-income women and children in India. She worked to create and implement LifeSpring’s Customer Relationship Management (CRM) strategy, including community outreach. Tricia is a former consultant at Katzenbach Partners and Braun Consulting. She has also worked with Women’s World Banking, the International Finance Corporation, and the Grameen Foundation. She earned an MBA from Columbia Business School, an MA in International Affairs from SIPA (Columbia University), and a BA from Harvard University.