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

    Andrea Griffin

    “Andrea currently serves as Head of International Business Development for Orb Energy. Orb is India’s largest direct provider of off-grid solar systems. As a Fellow, Andrea...” [READ MORE]

    Andrea currently serves as Head of International Business Development for Orb Energy. Orb is India’s largest direct provider of off-grid solar systems. As a Fellow, Andrea worked in Bangalore with Orb. Andrea is from the United States, and has worked as an analyst at Bear Stearns and subsequently J.P. Morgan. She has also worked with the UNDP in Senegal and as a Summer Associate with Acumen Fund in Pakistan. She holds a Master’s in International Energy Management and Policy from Columbia University’s School for International and Public Affairs, as well as a B.A. in Economics from the University of Vermont.

  • Close Drawer Fellow Bio2013 GJafarpisheh

    Ghoncheh Jafarpisheh

    “Ghoncheh worked in Nairobi, Kenya with Sproxil, which is combating the global counterfeit drug market through a mobile product authentication technology. She is a former...” [READ MORE]

    Ghoncheh worked in Nairobi, Kenya with Sproxil, which is combating the global counterfeit drug market through a mobile product authentication technology. She is a former project manager/engineer at The Procter & Gamble Company. She is currently working with former East Africa Regional Fellow, Soiya, in Nairobi at “We the Change” Foundation where is the Program and Operations Director. “We the Change” Foundation sets up Early Childhood Development Centers in the Mathare slums. She is an Electrical Engineer by degree from the University of Illinois. Ghoncheh is from Iran.

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    Neha Kale

    Neha currently works as an educational consultant with an organization based in New York. Neha worked in Bihar, India with Husk Power...” [READ MORE]

    Neha currently works as an educational consultant with an organization based in New York. Neha worked in Bihar, India with Husk Power Systems, which uses innovative biomass technology to convert abundant rice husks into energy that provides power to Indian villages. Neha is from India and previously worked in international marketing for General Motors. She holds a B.S. in marketing and management from Purdue University and an MBA with a concentration in social entrepreneurship from the Kelley School of Business, Indiana University.

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    Sunru Yong

    “As a Fellow, Sunru worked in Nairobi, Kenya with Global Easy Water Products, which provides affordable drip irrigation for smallscale farmers. Sunru is from the United States,...” [READ MORE]

    As a Fellow, Sunru worked in Nairobi, Kenya with Global Easy Water Products, which provides affordable drip irrigation for smallscale farmers. Sunru is from the United States, and was a manager at Bain & Company where he has served clients across multiple industries, including consumer products, financial services, healthcare, telecom, and private equity. He previously worked in international business development at TRG Group. He studied History at Washington University and has an MBA from Harvard Business School.

  • Close Drawer Fellow Bio2013 YAlguwaifli

    Yousef Alguwaifli

    “Yousef worked in Hyderabad, India with WaterHealth International, which incorporates technology and social marketing to increase access to safe, affordable water. Yousef is...” [READ MORE]

    Yousef worked in Hyderabad, India with WaterHealth International, which incorporates technology and social marketing to increase access to safe, affordable water. Yousef is from Saudi Arabia, and worked as a Program Officer at the King Khalid Foundation. He received a B.S. degree in Accounting from King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals and an MBA from Clark University in Massachusetts.

  • Close Drawer Fellow Bio2013 CJoseph

    Cherian Joseph

    “Cherian is passionate about using his experience to help SMEs scale and be sustainable. He is currently advising leadership in operations strategy and transformation in agriculture,...” [READ MORE]

    Cherian is passionate about using his experience to help SMEs scale and be sustainable. He is currently advising leadership in operations strategy and transformation in agriculture, healthcare and energy in India.

    As a Global Fellow, Cherian worked in Mumbai, India with Dial 1298 for Ambulance (ZHL), which focuses on providing affordable emergency medical response services.

    Cherian is from India and has an operations background. Prior to Acumen, he worked with the Tata Group to develop innovative low cost solutions for emerging markets. Cherian holds a M.S. in Industrial Engineering with focus on humanitarian applications from Georgia Institute of Technology and a B Tech in Mechanical Engineering from College of Engineering Pune.

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    Naomi Inoue

    “As a Fellow, Naomi worked in Nairobi, Kenya with d.light design, a company that makes low-cost solar lights that provide cleaner, safer, and cheaper lighting to families living...” [READ MORE]

    As a Fellow, Naomi worked in Nairobi, Kenya 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. Naomi has a background in business development in internet business as well as e-commerce and advertisement, and has worked with Recruit Co. Ltd. and NTT Communications Corporation. She also has experience working at an NGO focused on increasing access to information and communications technology. She holds an M.A. in Responsible Management & Sustainable Economic Development from the UN Mandated University for Peace in Costa Rica.

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    Rutendo Change

    “Rutendo currently consults for Untu Microfinance, a Botswana-based microfinance enterprise. As a Fellow, Rutendo worked in Nairobi, Kenya with Juhudi Kilimo, which provides...” [READ MORE]

    Rutendo currently consults for Untu Microfinance, a Botswana-based microfinance enterprise. As a Fellow, Rutendo worked in Nairobi, Kenya with Juhudi Kilimo, which provides microfinance loan products that allow Kenyan smallholder farmers to access high-quality agricultural assets that enhance the productivity of their farms. Rutendo is from Zimbabwe, and worked as a portfolio manager at a financial services firm. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting Science from the University of South Africa.

  • Close Drawer Fellow Bio2013 TChislett

    Tamsin Chislett

    “Tamsin is currently building partnerships on behalf of Living Goods, a social enterprise that operates a network of micro-entrepreneurs selling life-changing products to the...” [READ MORE]

    Tamsin is currently building partnerships on behalf of Living Goods, a social enterprise that operates a network of micro-entrepreneurs selling life-changing products to the poor (“We’re like Avon ladies, except selling malaria treatments instead of make-up”).  During her year as a Fellow she worked at GADC in Gulu, supporting factory operations, financing, and extension work with smallholders.  Before that she was at Oxford University, Bain & Company, & Technoserve.