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. Applications for the next cohort of Global Fellows will open in November 2016.

About the Global Fellows Program

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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 IDEO.org,  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.

The Application Process – Applications Are Now Closed.

If you would like to receive updates on Acumen’s leadership programs and future fellowship opportunities, please email at globalfellows@acumen.org.

Check out our first-ever “Ask Me Anything” discussion with two Acumen Global Fellows.

Who Becomes a Global Fellow

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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.

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

Meet the Global Fellows

Meet the next generation of social sector leaders.

  • Close Drawer Fellow Bio2013 BMohan

    Bavidra Mohan

    “Bavidra Mohan worked in China and India with d.light design, a company that makes low-cost solar lights that provide cleaner, safer, and cheaper lighting to families living...” [READ MORE]

    Bavidra Mohan worked in China and India with d.light design, a company that makes low-cost solar lights that provide cleaner, safer, and cheaper lighting to families living at the bottom of the pyramid. Bavidra is from Sri Lanka/Canada and previously worked as a corporate social responsibility consultant at Ethos JWT. Bavidra received an Honours Degree in Sociology from Queen’s University, and an MA in Marketing from Kingston University.

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    Brenda Williams

    “Brenda Williams currently works for Genser Energy, an independent power producer (IPP) based in the USA with operations in Africa. As a Fellow, Brenda worked in Andhra Pradesh,...” [READ MORE]

    Brenda Williams currently works for Genser Energy, an independent power producer (IPP) based in the USA with operations in Africa. As a Fellow, Brenda worked in Andhra Pradesh, India with WaterHealth International, which incorporates technology and social marketing to increase access to safe, affordable water. Brenda is from the United States, is the president and CEO of GlobaLink Consulting, Inc., a private consulting company specializing in business development, microfinance and organizational management services. She earned an M.S. in Organizational Management from the School for International Training in Brattleboro, VT. Brenda is from the United States.

  • Close Drawer Fellow Bio2013 CFujita

    Chikako Fujita

    “Chikako currently works with Arc Finance, a global non-profit that develops solutions for access to finance for clean energy and water, in India and Afghanistan. As a Fellow,...” [READ MORE]

    Chikako currently works with Arc Finance, a global non-profit that develops solutions for access to finance for clean energy and water, in India and Afghanistan. As a Fellow, Chikako worked in Mumbai, India with 1298 Ambulances, which focuses on providing affordable emergency medical response services. Chikako is from Japan and worked for SANYO on the company’s environmental initiatives. She also started an NGO’s rural electrification and development initiative in India. She earned an MEM from the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies.

  • Close Drawer Fellow Bio2013 KHussain

    Khuram Hussain

    “Khuram Hussain worked in Nairobi, Kenya with Ecotact, which improves the urban landscape for low-income communities through environmentally responsible sanitation and housing....” [READ MORE]

    Khuram Hussain worked in Nairobi, Kenya with Ecotact, which improves the urban landscape for low-income communities through environmentally responsible sanitation and housing. Khuram is from Pakistan, was a consultant at TechnoServe, and formerly worked for Endeavor and JP Morgan. He earned an MBA from the Haas School of Business at University of California at Berkeley.

  • Close Drawer Fellow Bio2013 SHeywood

    Shane Heywood

    “Shane currently serves as an Associate Consultant at Bain & Company. As a Fellow, Shane worked in Kitale, Kenya with Western Seed, which develops and distributes high-quality...” [READ MORE]

    Shane currently serves as an Associate Consultant at Bain & Company. As a Fellow, Shane worked in Kitale, Kenya with Western Seed, which develops and distributes high-quality hybrid seeds in East Africa. Shane is from Jamaica, and he has a background in the consumer goods industry as well as microfinance experience in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. Shane received a joint degree in Business Administration and International Relations from the University of Western Ontario and an M.A. in Development Studies from the London School of Economics. Shane is from Jamaica.

  • Close Drawer

    Benje Williams

    “Benje Williams is currently an MBA Candidate at the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University. As a Fellow, Benje worked in Lahore, Pakistan with Pharmagen, a company...” [READ MORE]

    Benje Williams is currently an MBA Candidate at the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University. As a Fellow, Benje worked in Lahore, Pakistan with Pharmagen, a company that provides access to drinking water for lowincome, urban customers, and produces bottled water for middle-income customers. He has worked previously as a management consultant for social enterprises and Fortune 500 corporations, and supported start-up SMEs in Nairobi. Benje holds a B.S. in Business Administration from the University of California at Berkeley. Benje is from the United States.

  • Close Drawer Fellow Bio2013 BFarris

    Bryan Farris

    “Bryan Farris worked in Lahore, Pakistan with Ansaar Management Company, which is a housing development and management company that provides an integrated approach to affordable,...” [READ MORE]

    Bryan Farris worked in Lahore, Pakistan with Ansaar Management Company, which is a housing development and management company that provides an integrated approach to affordable, quality housing. Bryan is from the United States and was a management consultant for Bain & Company. He received his B.S. in Industrial Engineering & Operations Research from the University of California at Berkeley.

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    Elizabeth Maina

    “Elizabeth Maina currently works for Azmasoft, a consulting agency in Nairobi. As a Fellow, Elizabeth worked in Kenya, with Global Easy Water Products, which provides affordable...” [READ MORE]

    Elizabeth Maina currently works for Azmasoft, a consulting agency in Nairobi. As a Fellow, Elizabeth worked in Kenya, with Global Easy Water Products, which provides affordable drip irrigation for small-scale farmers. Elizabeth is from Kenya and is a consultant for different companies in systems and process improvement. She has a BSc. in Information Systems and Technology from the United States International University in Kenya.

  • Close Drawer Fellow Bio2013 MFerro

    Mario Ferro

    “As a fellow Mario worked at Husk Power Systems testing a mobile payment system for rural Bihar. He is currently based in Bangkok, Thailand, where he started [READ MORE]

    As a fellow Mario worked at Husk Power Systems testing a mobile payment system for rural Bihar. He is currently based in Bangkok, Thailand, where he started Wedu, a social enterprise investing in women in South East Asia by providing mentorship and leadership training combined with innovative financing options to complete university. Wedu is Social Enterprise Startup 2012 at Cambridge University and winner of GSVC South East Asia 2013. He previously worked at PricewaterhouseCoopers Advisory, Greenpeace International and in humanitarian relief after the earthquake in Haiti in 2010. He holds an MSc from the London School of Economics.

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    Wendy Wallace

    “Wendy Wallace currently works for Kazoza Finance, a microfinance organization based in Burundi. As a Fellow, she worked in East Africa with d.light design, a company that...” [READ MORE]

    Wendy Wallace currently works for Kazoza Finance, a microfinance organization based in Burundi. As a Fellow, she worked in East Africa with d.light design, a company that makes low-cost solar lights that provide cleaner, safer, and cheaper lighting to families living at the bottom of the pyramid. Wendy previously worked in consulting, and previously served as a field agent in Nairobi, Kenya with Renew Strategies. She has an MPP from Harvard University and a B.S. in Engineering Sciences and Astronautical Engineering from the U.S. Air Force Academy. Wendy is from the United States.