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.
“Asim currently works in Pakistan for the International Development branch of Land O'Lakes. He has also been involved part-time in multiple social ventures and learning initiatives....” [READ MORE]
Asim currently works in Pakistan for the International Development branch of Land O’Lakes. He has also been involved part-time in multiple social ventures and learning initiatives. As a Fellow, Asim worked for Micro Drip, a drip irrigation company that develops and provides products and services as poverty alleviation solutions to farmers in Pakistan’s arid regions.
“Josephat currently works with the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Uganda as the Senior Policy Officer for Agriculture and Agribusiness. Previously he worked as...” [READ MORE]
Josephat currently works with the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Uganda as the Senior Policy Officer for Agriculture and Agribusiness. Previously he worked as Uganda’s Country Manager for Vredeseilanden (VECO EAST AFRICA Regional Program), a Belgian nongovernmental organization dedicated to the empowerment of organized family farmers, through Agriculture Value Chain Development and market access. As a fellow, Josephat worked in Kitale, Kenya with Western Seed, which develops and distributes high quality hybrid seeds in East Africa. Josephat is from Uganda and has experience in program management, agricultural value chain development, conservation farming, agricultural marketing, cooperatives and farmer institutions development. He holds a Masters degree in Sustainable International Development from Brandeis University (USA) and a Bsc in Agriculture from Makerere University.
“As a Fellow, Meghan worked with LifeSpring Hospitals, a growing network of affordable maternal and child healthcare hospitals in India. She has a background in public health...” [READ MORE]
As a Fellow, Meghan worked with LifeSpring Hospitals, a growing network of affordable maternal and child healthcare hospitals in India. She has a background in public health and business administration. Meghan earned a Masters in Public Health from Columbia University.
“Sarah is currently pursuing a master's degree in city planning with a specialization in international development from MIT-Department of Urban Studies & Planning (Master...” [READ MORE]
Sarah is currently pursuing a master’s degree in city planning with a specialization in international development from MIT-Department of Urban Studies & Planning (Master of City Planning-International Development Group Candidate ’14). She was selected as a 2013-2014 MIT Legatum Center for Entrepreneurship Fellow – starting an infrastructure energy & real-estate development firm in Tanzania. She is working on a 2013-14 forum series w/MIT Energy Initiative on energy and human development in developing countries. As a Fellow, Sarah served as a Operations & Project Management at Ansaar Management Company (AMC), a social enterprise which provides low-income housing in Pakistan.
“Sule currently serves as Systems Design Management Engineer at Kinder Morgan. He also consults for Envirofit International, a social enterprise established in 2003 to develop...” [READ MORE]
Sule currently serves as Systems Design Management Engineer at Kinder Morgan. He also consults for Envirofit International, a social enterprise established in 2003 to develop well-engineered technology solutions to improve the human condition on a global scale, with a primary emphasis on applications in the developing world. As a Fellow, Sule worked for d.light design in India, he helped improve their performance and decrease costs. Tasked with ensuring a high quality product life-cycle, Sule established a quality control team to identify products or services that did not meet their quality standards. With these new procedures in place, one month’s work could be done in one or two weeks.
“Gamuchirai is the Founder of Paruware Trust, a Zimbabwe-based social enterprise that empowers young people with information, resources and opportunities to create positive...” [READ MORE]
Gamuchirai is the Founder of Paruware Trust, a Zimbabwe-based social enterprise that empowers young people with information, resources and opportunities to create positive change in their own lives, their communities and in the world. As a Fellow, Gamuchirai worked in Kenya with Upper Hill Eye and Laser Centre (UHEAL), which provides affordable access to specialized eye care services for low-income Kenyans suffering from diabetic retinopathy. Gamuchirai previously built an enterprise that trains young Zimbabwean entrepreneurs to start their own businesses.
“Kevin is currently a Professor of Business Administration at New England College and the president of Red Rake Studio, a strategy and marketing consultancy focused on social...” [READ MORE]
Kevin is currently a Professor of Business Administration at New England College and the president of Red Rake Studio, a strategy and marketing consultancy focused on social enterprises. He also operates a small organic farm in New England. During the fellowship Kevin worked in Tanzania with the solar powered lighting company d.light design building new marketing initiatives across East Africa. Previously Kevin and his wife founded the Tanzanian based HIV/AIDS education program TEAM. He has experience working with a variety of sustainable enterprises and international development organizations. He earned an MBA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
“Zahoor currently works as Chief Executive at the Centre of Excellence for Rural Development, a community driven initiative of the UNDP to sustainably improve the livelihoods...” [READ MORE]
Zahoor currently works as Chief Executive at the Centre of Excellence for Rural Development, a community driven initiative of the UNDP to sustainably improve the livelihoods of over 254,000 people in the southern districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. As a Fellow, Zahoor worked in Pakistan with First Micro Insurance Agency (FMiA), which provides micro-insurance products for low-income families. He has experience managing rural development programs and has worked in public-sector education in Pakistan. Zahoor earned a Masters in Sociology from the University of Peshawar and a M. Phil degree in Sociology from Malakand University.
“Satoko worked with AyurVAID, an affordable hospital chain providing comprehensive care for chronic diseases in India. She is currently Project Manager at Emerging Asia Management...” [READ MORE]
Satoko worked with AyurVAID, an affordable hospital chain providing comprehensive care for chronic diseases in India. She is currently Project Manager at Emerging Asia Management Consulting in Shanghai, China. Prior to Acumen, she worked with leading public and private institutions in the US and Japan with assignments in India, the Philippines and Sierra Leone. A researcher and a development practitioner, she is skilled at catalyzing actions. She holds a master’s degree in International Economics and International Relations from Johns Hopkins University and a bachelor’s in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley.
“Yehia currently serves as COO for Tasmeem Middle East, the largest creative commons social network in the Middle East region. As a Fellow, Yehia worked in India with Dial...” [READ MORE]
Yehia currently serves as COO for Tasmeem Middle East, the largest creative commons social network in the Middle East region. As a Fellow, Yehia worked in India with Dial 1298 for Ambulance, the first reliable emergency medical response service in Mumbai and other major cities in India. He has experience as a financial analyst, focused on access to financing for the poor. Before the Fellowship, Yehia served as a Financial Analyst for the World Bank. Yehia earned a Masters in International Affairs from Columbia University.