Announcing Acumen’s 2016 Global Fellows

By Acumen on July 09, 2015

Standing—and working—with the poor requires resilience and determination. When we established Acumen’s Global Fellowship 10 years ago, we were looking for those bright minds and big thinkers who not only possessed the moral imagination to envision a world beyond poverty but also the courage and resolve to commit their lives to making that vision a reality.

The Global Fellowship is a yearlong leadership development program designed to equip social leaders with the knowledge, support system and practical wisdom to build a better, more inclusive world. We see our Global Fellows as the architects of the social impact sector. Working across industries and geographies, they are committed to creating meaningful and sustainable social change in their own unique way.

Since 2006, we have welcomed more than 90 individuals from almost 30 countries to become Acumen Global Fellows. Each fall, they come to New York for an intensive eight weeks of leadership training before joining social enterprises on the ground to help them tackle a critical business challenge. After the close of each year, our Fellows employ their newfound knowledge and understanding to drive social change across sectors, whether working for a government agency like USAID or starting their own social enterprises across the globe.

This year, we selected 11 extraordinary individuals from hundreds of applicants who we believe will become the next generation of social leaders. Hailing from Zimbabwe to Saudi Arabia, the 2016 Fellows are a diverse mix of doers who dream big, and we can’t wait to see what the coming year holds for each of them!

Please join us in welcoming our 2016 Global Fellows!

Lujain HeadshotLujain Al Ubaid

“My radical idea of hope is investing our lessons from the past and the facts of our present to build a future for every human being.”

Lujain is the co-founder and CEO of Tasamy for Social Entrepreneurship, a nonprofit developing an ecosystem for social entrepreneurs in the region. She has been honored by HRH King Salman for her volunteer work during her tenure at AlGhad forum, an esteemed national youth development organization where she was a founding member of the strategic planning team. Born and raised in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia she attended the Business Administration College, concentrating in Finance, at AlYamamah University. She has also participated in The Executive Leadership Program at Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government and the Columbia Business School’s Executive Education Program for Nonprofit Organizations.

Lujain will spend her fellowship with Ignis Careers in Hyderabad, India.

IMG_1509copyJaved Cheema

“Dignity is having the self-reliance to dream and live the seemingly impossible.”

Javed started his career at General Electric and today has more than 15 years experience working in a variety of industries, from health care to insurance. A process-oriented Six Sigma black belt, the majority of his career has been spent focused on operations and process reengineering but he also has a deep knowledge of marketing and finance. He currently works as a Program Manager at Nationwide Insurance. He received his Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from Purdue University and his MBA from Ohio State University, which involved a three-week consultancy in Ethiopia to work on a roadmap to eliminate rabies from the region.

Javed will spend his fellowship with an energy investee in Karachi, Pakistan.

Tafadzwa ChigangaTafadzwa Chiganga

“My radical idea of creating hope is to ensure the success of small to medium enterprises for they are an excellent tool to fight unemployment and poverty.”

Tafadzwa works for Cosmos Capital Limited, a Zimbabwe corporate finance outfit where she develops business initiatives centered on growth, refinancing and turnaround. Her expertise in risk analysis in finance and business is built upon her past roles at Zimnat Life Assurance and Old Mutual Life Assurance. She volunteers with the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries and the Actuarial Society of Zimbabwe. She also provides counseling on emotional, marital and financial matters to Woman on a Mission, a small interpersonal group she founded in Zimbabwe. Tafadzwa holds a MBA in Banking and Finance from the Bologna Business School in Italy and a Bachelor of Commerce Actuarial Science from Zimbabwe’s National University of Science and Technology.

Tafadzwa will spend her fellowship with Frontier Markets in Jaipur, India.

Ame-6 copyAme Igharo

“I am in service of building stronger, more inclusive communities that help us effectively address today’s big, systemic challenges, like poverty and climate change.”

Ame has more than 10 years of experience as a business strategist and consumer marketing specialist. Born in Nigeria and raised in Kenya, the United States and France, she has employed her international experience to help companies like L’Oreal and Elizabeth Arden build their global marketing strategies and grow their brands. More recently, Ame has combined her professional skills with her personal passions to help organizations function more effectively and increase their impact while addressing climate change and poverty. She is an Environmental Leadership Program Senior Fellow and an Environmental Defense Fund Climate Corps Fellow. Ame holds a bachelor’s degree in Art from Williams College and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Sustainability Management from Columbia University.

Ame will spend her fellowship with BURN in Nairobi, Kenya.

Navin MurugaNavin Muruga

“Dignity is knowing you have the freedom and opportunity to live your life as you wish and on your own terms without having to depend on anyone else for the right to equal opportunity.”

Navin has worked as a consultant for the last six years, most recently at Michael Page International, a global recruiting firm where he helped to launch two strategic business units, both of which turned a profit in the first year. During that time, he left to volunteer in war-torn Sri Lanka and rural Kenya, an experience that led him to found MAD, a social business that helps small nonprofits reduce the risk and cost of fundraising through the use of crowdfunding. MAD currently partners with nonprofits across Kenya, Sri Lanka and Cambodia to fund critical water and sanitation projects and impact more than 10,000 people living in poverty. Navin holds a bachelor’s degree in Business from the University of Technology, Sydney, and has spoken twice at TEDx.

Navin will spend his fellowship with Sahayog Dairy in Bhopal, India.

Javier OlaguibelJavier Olaguibel

“I am in service of creating a world where markets and capital work for us and where social entrepreneurs and traditional companies compete to deliver a bigger social impact.”

Javier began his career on the Audit & Consulting team at PricewaterhouseCoopers. His passion for social change led him to leave PwC to immerse himself in Cambodia’s social sector and learn Khmer to coordinate two education programs for more than 1,500 children. Upon returning to his homeland of Spain, he harnessed his experience in the social and private sectors to become an entrepreneur. His recent ventures include a tech startup and a men’s clothing line. Javier also works for Ashoka Spain as Fellowship and Alliances Manager and launched the organization’s GlobalizerX program to help Ashoka fellows scale their impact.

Javier will spend his fellowship with KMRI in Kampala, Uganda.

Laura Ruiz Diaz4 copyLaura Ruiz Diaz

“Dignity is being able to make your own informed choices and having access to opportunities.”

Laura recently completed her master’s thesis on leadership in social innovation in Sweden after studying in the United Kingdom and Italy and plans to pursue a career in social impact. She has a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering and three master’s degrees as part of a Master in Strategic Project Management program. Laura also has more than seven years of work experience planning, implementing and evaluating projects for both public and private institutions. One of her biggest roles focused on revenue optimization for the airline industry while working for Avianca, an airline member of Star Alliance and leader in Colombia.

Laura will spend her fellowship with Amal Academy founded by former Acumen Global Fellow Benje Williams in Lahore, Pakistan.

Lorenn Ruster_more formal photoLorenn Ruster

“I’m in service of ensuring that I make a real contribution with all of the experience, education and skills that I have, towards a better world where future global citizens will flourish!”

Lorenn is a strategy consultant at PricewaterhouseCoopers where she co-created PwC’s Indigenous Consulting, a shared value business that is majority Indigenous owned and staffed, focused on powering positive change in Indigenous communities. Lorenn participated in Pollinate Energy’s young professionals program focused on alleviating energy poverty in India’s urban slums. In 2014, she attended Singularity University at NASA Ames, Silicon Valley to use exponential technology to positively impact one billion people within a decade. Following this, she co-founded Bibak, a social enterprise transforming post-conflict societies into thriving communities through technology for landmine detection. Lorenn holds a Bachelor of Science and Arts, majoring in Chemistry, Psychology and French and a tri-national Master of International Management in Social Innovation undertaken at the University of Sydney, HEC Paris and Copenhagen Business School.

Lorenn will spend her fellowship with SolarNow in Kampala, Uganda.

Mina Shahid copy

Mina Shahid

“I am in service of those people in the world whose potential is systemically constrained simply because of geography.”

Mina spent the past seven years working in Zambia, Uganda and Ghana to improve opportunities for smallholder farmers and African agribusinesses. His bottom line that service is love in action has guided him to live a life of service to those whose potential is systemically constrained. As co-founder and Director of Business Development for Kulemela Investments, he has invested in agribusinesses within the rice, poultry, maize and vegetable sectors as well as analyzed business models and designed cash-flow lending products. Prior to Kulemela, Mina was a market development strategist in Ghana and Uganda for Engineers Without Borders Canada. Mina not only identified leverage points for social and financial impact in agriculture value chains and designed new business models, he also lived and farmed alongside smallholder farmers to intimately understand their realities and empower them through market-based interventions. He holds a Bachelor of Applied Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Toronto.

Mina will spend his fellowship with Siembra Viva in Medellin, Colombia.

Ajay SharmaAjay Sharma

“Dignity is the right of all individuals to be treated with equality and respect regardless of their background, color, social status, sexual orientation, gender, income or any other social determinants.”

Ajay is an engagement manager at Deloitte, where he advises global healthcare clients on how to improve their operational efficiency and minimize their business and regulatory risks. He has over eight years of experience with a specialty in health care, including a role as a development consultant in India, where he implemented primary healthcare delivery programs in rural areas and designed a sales and distribution strategy to improve revenue for a community pharmacy. Ajay also co-founded Ignited Brainz, an education startup focused on holistic development. A PMP certified professional, Ajay holds a master’s degree in Health Administration and a bachelor’s degree in Medicine, and has lectured on the subjects as part of an MBA program at an Indian government university.

Ajay will spend his fellowship with Ethiochicken in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

seemaSeema Thakker

“My radical idea of hope exists in the place where profitable business means making the quality of everyone’s life better.”

Seema began her career in television working on programs such as LOST, Grey’s Anatomy and Desperate Housewives before moving into affiliate marketing with networks such as Lifetime Television, ABC and NFL Network. In 2012, Seema transitioned to Enso Collaborative, a creative agency focused on uniting business success with social impact. There she led the launch of Google Fiber in Kansas City, worked in Google’s public policy and small business departments and at Google.org. Seema also led marketing campaigns for Humanity United, University of Santa Monica and WakaWaka. Most recently Seema has consulted for Participant Media and MAL\FORGOOD. A Kansas City, Missouri native, Seema holds an MBA from UCLA’s Anderson School of Management, with a focus on international business and a Master of Arts in Television-Radio-Film from Syracuse University.

Seema will spend her fellowship with SEED Schools in Hyderabad, India.

Other Articles From Our Blog

Acumen Blog

Acumen Launches to Tackle Poverty in Latin America...

Read More

Acumen Blog

Acumen, Dow and Unilever Support Social Enterprises Across East and We...

Read More

Acumen Blog

Acumen Makes First Cookstove Investment with BURN Manufacturing...

Read More

Get Our Newsletter To Stay Up To Date