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.
“Adedotun Eyinade will work in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania with Husk Power Systems. Husk uses innovative biomass technology to convert abundant rice husks into energy that provides...” [READ MORE]
Adedotun Eyinade will work in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania with Husk Power Systems. Husk uses innovative biomass technology to convert abundant rice husks into energy that provides power to rural villages. Adedotun is from Nigeria and has worked for KPMG for over four years, most recently as a Senior Associate in Financial Risk Management. He holds a Bsc in Microbiology from the Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria and an International Certificate in Banking Risk and Regulation.
“Asim will work in Bahawalpur City, Pakistan with National Rural Support Program Microfinance Bank (NRSP Bank), which supplies financial services for rural communities in...” [READ MORE]
Asim will work in Bahawalpur City, Pakistan with National Rural Support Program Microfinance Bank (NRSP Bank), which supplies financial services for rural communities in Pakistan. Asim is from the UK and has worked for Google in the UAE and Switzerland. He founded a consultancy business in South Africa, providing design and brand consultancy for startups. Asim holds a BSc in Art, Design, and New Web Technology from the University of East London.
“John will work in Uttarakhand, India with Avani Bio Energy Pvt. Limited, a growing company that creates pine needle gasification power projects for remote communities in...” [READ MORE]
John will work in Uttarakhand, India with Avani Bio Energy Pvt. Limited, a growing company that creates pine needle gasification power projects for remote communities in northern India. John is from Ireland where he owned and managed a sustainable food event management company. Most recently he worked for iFarms Venture Advisors where he focused on agri tech investment. John holds a BA in Political Science, University College Dublin, an MA in Development Studies from the University of Manchester, and an MBA from Northwestern University.
“Kathleen will work in Sogakope, Ghana with GADCO an integrated agri-food company in sub-Saharan Africa focused on crop production, processing and supply of cereal and protein-based...” [READ MORE]
Kathleen will work in Sogakope, Ghana with GADCO an integrated agri-food company in sub-Saharan Africa focused on crop production, processing and supply of cereal and protein-based foods. Kathleen is from the US and most recently worked as Vice President in Equity Capital Markets in the Investment Banking division at Barclays in Hong Kong and New York, and has previously worked for Morgan Stanley and Citigroup. She is the Founding Board Member
of Roots of Health, a Philippines based non-profit. She holds a BA in Japanese Studies from Wellesley College and an MBA from NYU.
“Umar will work in Lahore, Pakistan with Pharmagen, which provides safe drinking water for the urban poor in Pakistan. Umar is from Pakistan and has worked as a Senior Analyst...” [READ MORE]
Umar will work in Lahore, Pakistan with Pharmagen, which provides safe drinking water for the urban poor in Pakistan. Umar is from Pakistan and has worked as a Senior Analyst at Ominvest in Oman. Previously, Umar worked as a Senior Research Analyst at Lakson Investments in Pakistan. He holds a BSc in Math and Economics from Lahore University of Management Sciences.
“Rajanthi will work in Nairobi, Kenya with M-KOPA, which provides financing for mini solar home systems in Kenya. Rajanthi is from Canada and has worked for Cuso International...” [READ MORE]
Rajanthi will work in Nairobi, Kenya with M-KOPA, which provides financing for mini solar home systems in Kenya. Rajanthi is from Canada and has worked for Cuso International in Ghana as a Strategic and Organizational Consultant. Previously, she worked as a Senior Financial Analyst for Rogers Communications in Toronto. She holds a BA in Economics from the University of Waterloo and is a Certified Management Accountant.
“Aliyah Kurji will work in Nairobi, Kenya with d.light design, a company that makes low-cost solar lights that provides cleaner, safer, and cheaper lighting to families living...” [READ MORE]
Aliyah Kurji will work in Nairobi, Kenya with d.light design, a company that makes low-cost solar lights that provides cleaner, safer, and cheaper lighting to families living at the bottom of the pyramid. Aliyah is from Kenya and has worked with Accenture as a Senior Consultant for over six years in the UK. She has also worked with SmallWorld Cambodia and is a member of RAPID UK Urban Search and Rescue. She holds a BA from the University of Warwick and has pursued her MBA from Oxford.
“Baheirah will work in Hyderabad, India with Lifespring, a chain of hospitals that provides quality health care to lowerincome women and children in India. Baheirah is from...” [READ MORE]
Baheirah will work in Hyderabad, India with Lifespring, a chain of hospitals that provides quality health care to lowerincome women and children in India. Baheirah is from Saudi Arabia and worked for the Islamic Development Bank as VP of Operations for the Young Professional Program. She served at the Captain/ Leader of Girl Guides of Saudi Arabia. She holds a Bachelor of Engineering Management at Missouri University of Science and Technology and attended the International Relations and Diplomacy Program at Tufts.
“Justus will work in Gulu, Uganda with Gulu Agricultural Development Company (GADC), which provides market access to smallholder farmers in northern Uganda. Justus is from...” [READ MORE]
Justus will work in Gulu, Uganda with Gulu Agricultural Development Company (GADC), which provides market access to smallholder farmers in northern Uganda. Justus is from the US and has worked as a Senior Financial Analyst at Merrill Lynch, and as a Global Securities Technician at the Northern Trust Company. He holds a BSc in Business Administration and an MBA from the University of Chicago. He is also a CFA Charterholder.
“Luis will work in Nairobi, Kenya with Virtual City, a company that increases rural farmers’ incomes through mobile technology. Luis is from Mexico and has worked as a Business...” [READ MORE]
Luis will work in Nairobi, Kenya with Virtual City, a company that increases rural farmers’ incomes through mobile technology. Luis is from Mexico and has worked as a Business Unit Manager at Det Norske Veritas, a climate change and environmental services company. He worked as a Commercial Strategy Analyst for CEMEX in Mexico and the USA. He holds a Bachelor of Commerce in Entrepreneurship from the University of Alberta in Canada.
“Paula will work in Mumbai, India with Edubridge, a company that provides vocational skills training for low income youth across rural India. Paula is from Colombia and has...” [READ MORE]
Paula will work in Mumbai, India with Edubridge, a company that provides vocational skills training for low income youth across rural India. Paula is from Colombia and has worked as a Business Analyst at McKinsey. She has also worked as an Actuarial Analyst for Grupo Bolivar in Colombia. She holds a BSc and MSc in Industrial Engineering from the Universidad de los Andes.
“Suzuka will work in Lagos, Nigeria with Pagatech, which delivers universal access to financial services in lowincome communities. Suzuka is from Japan and worked as a Reporting...” [READ MORE]
Suzuka will work in Lagos, Nigeria with Pagatech, which delivers universal access to financial services in lowincome communities. Suzuka is from Japan and worked as a Reporting Officer for UNDP in Nepal. She has sales and marketing experience and lead a sales team at Recruit Co. in Japan. She holds a BA in International Development from the University of Tsukuba and an MA in Sustainable Development from SIT Graduate Institute.