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.
“Heidi is currently Chief Operating Officer and Head of Communities Investing with New Island Capital, a mission-focused investor that strives to accomplish environmental...” [READ MORE]
Heidi is currently Chief Operating Officer and Head of Communities Investing with New Island Capital, a mission-focused investor that strives to accomplish environmental and social good. As a Fellow, Heidi worked in India with d.light design, an organization that uses light emitting diode (LED) technology to provide an economically and socially preferable alternative to kerosene lanterns. She helped develop a sales, distribution, and marketing strategy, while also providing supply chain logistical support. Before Acumen Fund, Heidi was the Director of Employee OnRamp at Pacific Community Ventures in San Francisco, California. Previously, she was a founding member of AOL Time Warner Ventures and worked in Investment Banking at Deutsche Morgan Grenfell and Credit Suisse First Boston. Heidi earned a BA from Princeton and an MBA from Stanford University.
“Joel is currently the Director of International Expansion at Endeavor, a global non-profit that helps the highest potential entrepreneurs in growth markets expand globally. ...” [READ MORE]
Joel is currently the Director of International Expansion at Endeavor, a global non-profit that helps the highest potential entrepreneurs in growth markets expand globally. As a fellow, Joel worked in Pakistan with Microdrip, a low-cost drip irrigation company that increased crop yields for poor farmers. At Micro Drip, Joel helped the company undergo a number of internal improvements, which included a new vision and mission, new HR processes, improved SOPs and a deeper understanding of the target market. He also helped develop new sales strategies. Joel has a MBA from Thunderbird School of Global Management and BS from Yale University.
“Mubarik is currently working in the Business Development Department for WhatsApp, a cross-platform mobile messaging app for smartphones. He recently recieved a dual degree...” [READ MORE]
Mubarik is currently working in the Business Development Department for WhatsApp, a cross-platform mobile messaging app for smartphones. He recently recieved a dual degree in business and policy from the Harvard Kennedy School and Stanford Business School. As a Fellow, Mubarik worked on the housing pipeline for low-income communities in Pakistan. Before Acumen Fund, Mubarik was an Associate Consultant at Bain & Company and the President of the Association for the Development of Pakistan. Mubarik founded the Mobile Science and Computer Labs Project, which provides rural schools in Pakistan with science and computer facilities. She earned a BS in Electrical Engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
“Premal currently is a Director at EXFO (India), a telecom test solutions company. Prior to this he researched and designed hands-on learning programs for children and conducted...” [READ MORE]
Premal currently is a Director at EXFO (India), a telecom test solutions company. Prior to this he researched and designed hands-on learning programs for children and conducted sessions at a girl’s orphanage in Delhi with a view to starting an education company in hands-on learning. During his Fellowship, Premal worked in India with LifeSpring Hospitals which provides quality health care to lower-income women and children. He helped design and develop their immersion-based on-boarding program, self-learning modules (video) on process training in collaboration with Rockefeller Foundation and their IT infrastructure using Open Source to connect all the hospitals. Prior to the fellowship Premal worked for Microsoft, India and large product companies in US for over 10 years. He volunteered at LV Prasad Eye Institute and is a former owner of a Gymboree Play & Music franchise in San Jose, CA. Premal has a MS in Computer Science from University of Texas.
“Sophie currently works as an independent consultant on microfinance, enterprise development and women empowerment projects for various International NGOs. As a Fellow, Sophie...” [READ MORE]
Sophie currently works as an independent consultant on microfinance, enterprise development and women empowerment projects for various International NGOs. As a Fellow, Sophie worked in India with Drishtee, a rural “Information and Communications Technology” (ICT) network orchestrator that helps local women entrepreneurs to set up kiosks that provide a variety of services to villagers for a fee. Sophie helped assess the current revenue model, assist with strategic planning of the health expansion, and develop business, health, and education training modules. Prior to Acumen, Sophie ran an economic development and peace-building project in Eastern Indonesia and consulted on agriculture lending projects in Africa. She also served as a Peace Corps Volunteer and has worked in 20 different countries in senior management, technical advisor and consultant roles. Sophie earned an MS from Carnegie Mellon in Public Policy and Management.
“Joanna is the Director of Expansion at Endeavor Global. Since joining in January 2010, she has doubled Endeavor’s footprint in the Middle East and North Africa region. She...” [READ MORE]
Joanna is the Director of Expansion at Endeavor Global. Since joining in January 2010, she has doubled Endeavor’s footprint in the Middle East and North Africa region. She launched Endeavor’s offices in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Morocco. She continues as an advisor and member of the local boards. Joanna is now launching Endeavor’s first U.S. affiliate in Miami. As a member of the expansion team, she is responsible for the strategy-setting to accelerate Endeavor’s global scale and impact with a goal to reach 25 affiliate offices by 2015. Prior to Endeavor, Joanna spent six years with Unilever North America in brand management, brand development and sales. She was awarded an Acumen Fund Fellowship in 2009. As a Fellow, Joanna worked in India with Dial 1298 for Ambulance, the Mumbai-based provider of emergency medical services with an ethos of service for all. She helped develop a strategy for the implementation of new initiatives related to improving the quality of service for customers. She earned her B.B.A. (2003) and MBA (2008) from Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Canada. Joanna is based in New York City. She has been recognized as a Kauffman Fellow, and serves on the World Economic Forum’s Gender Parity Task Force.
“Karthik recently graduated from the Sloan Program at the Stanford Graduate School of Business this summer. Prior to the Sloan program, he worked as Director of Product Development...” [READ MORE]
Karthik recently graduated from the Sloan Program at the Stanford Graduate School of Business this summer. Prior to the Sloan program, he worked as Director of Product Development at Intevac and brought to market several new products in the solar cell manufacturing industry. As an Acumen fellow, Karthik worked at Global Easy Water Products (GEWP) on product development, supply chain and quality initiatives. Karthik started his career as an engineer at Applied Materials, a leading semiconductor capital equipment provider.
“Nicole currently combines her global experience and cross-sector knowledge to offer consulting services focused on organizational capacity building, efficiency and impact...” [READ MORE]
Nicole currently combines her global experience and cross-sector knowledge to offer consulting services focused on organizational capacity building, efficiency and impact optimization for Nonprofits, start-ups and SMEs in Panama. She also acts as Project Manager for Project SEED at the Panama Business Accelerator of the City of Knowledge Foundation, a 4- year project financed by the IDB and designed to foster a dynamic ecosystem for innovative entrepreneurship in the country. Prior to this, she was the Program Director for Global Citizen Year, a program that immerses high school graduates in developing nations to live and work on the frontlines of today’s global challenges during a gap year before college. As a Fellow, Nicole worked in India with AyurVAID, a patient-centric hospital chain with a standardized approach to delivering safe, effective, and, affordable care to poor communities in India. She helped develop processes and systems for managing relationships with network hospitals and partners. Before Acumen Fund, Nicole was the Manufacturing Plant Manager and Continuous Improvement Team Leader for Frito Lay in Panama and a volunteer for Plan International in the UK. Nicole earned an MBA and Msc in Development Management from HEC, Paris and LSE, London, and a BS in Chemical Engineering from Purdue University.
“Ramakrishnan is currently the COO of Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture (Kilimo Salama), based in Nairobi, Kenya. Syngenta provides agriculture micro-insurance...” [READ MORE]
Ramakrishnan is currently the COO of Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture (Kilimo Salama), based in Nairobi, Kenya. Syngenta provides agriculture micro-insurance to small scale farmers in Kenya and Rwanda. As a Fellow, Ramakrishnan worked in Kenya with Meridian Medical Centre, whose vision is to establish a chain of affordable, high quality outpatient clinics across Kenya. At Meridian, Ramakrishnan helped to develop expansion plans, opened a new branch outlet for services, and supported the development of a branding and marketing strategy to attract and retain new business. Before Acumen, Ramakrishnan was a consultant in the development and banking sectors with a background in consumer banking and industrial goods. He has served as Head of Operations for Pratham, an NGO working in primary education in India. Ramakrishnan earned a Masters in Management Studies and a BS in Chemistry from Mumbai University.
“Acumen taught me that as much as we should be driven to find the answers, we must ask and live the tough questions knowing that the answers are not easy nor will they come easily.” [READ MORE]
During his fellowship year, Suraj worked with Ecotact, a Nairobi-based company that aims to improve the urban landscape for low-income communities through environmentally-responsible projects in sanitation and housing. His projects involved developing a marketing plan for expansion of the Eco-toilet model and building a financial consolidation plan. Prior to the fellowship, Suraj was working on a variety of consulting projects in market research and healthcare. He has served as a Team Leader for Rural Innovations Network and as a programmer analyst at Cognizant Technology Solutions. Suraj earned a B.Tech in Computer Science and Engineering from Cochin University of Science & Technology.