The Acumen Global Fellows are an incredibly diverse group of professionals dedicated to changing the way the world tackles poverty. Over the past nine years, 86 Fellows have taken part in the fellowship which has truly transformed the way they see themselves and their careers.
We asked three alumni to share what they learned during their fellowship year, how they’ve grown, and how the experience shaped who they are today.
Applications for the Global Fellows Program are open until December 7th. Apply today!
The Fellowship training sharpened my skills in so many areas: storytelling, negotiation, design thinking, and many others. But perhaps the most valuable thing I took from the fellowship is the ability to deal better with ambiguity and to work with limited information and resources.
I joined Acumen as a Fellow at a point where I was reevaluating many things in life, both personally and professionally. I was hoping the training portion in New York would provide answers, however, it left me with more questions. The field experience was a beautiful time of reflection and self-discovery, that’s when I gradually regained clarity and became sure of who I am and my purpose in life.
The Fellowship enabled me to have a better understanding of poverty and the challenges faced by people living on $2 per day. It also allowed me to understand the challenges social enterprises face and the powerful impact they can have on people’s lives. As a result of my experience, I strongly advocate for more engagement from Saudi youth in global development and social entrepreneurship.
Yousef lives in Saudi Arabia and is currently working at the Suliman S. Olayan Foundation. Yousef worked with WaterHealth International in India during his Fellowship year.
The year taught me what leadership is about. A leader is not someone with authority or position. A leader is someone who empowers others to lead a life of their choosing. I learned the importance of listening in all its forms—understanding another person not from what she said, but from her actions and how she spends her time.
The Fellowship enabled me to live with uncertainty. It helped me become a better entrepreneur. By better understanding my strengths and weaknesses, I know what I can handle and when I should ask for help. Knowing myself also helps me navigate the uphill battle of building a startup.
The Acumen community and my Fellows cohort remain my strongest supporters. I know I can always reach out to them. And though I am far away in Asia, thanks to the global presence of +Acumen chapters, I also have a community here.
After the Fellowship, Christina went on to found her own company, Blue Sky, which focuses on solving the energy waste and air pollution problems in China. During her Fellowship year she worked with WaterHealth International in Ghana.
I learned how to ask the right questions. So much of education focuses on learning what the “right” answer is and filing it away for future use. I even thought that Acumen would teach me the “right” answers to problems I had faced throughout my career in social entrepreneurship. I quickly discovered, however, that no one possesses the “right” answers, but the most successful leaders are those who can ask the right questions.
The fellowship left me with a powerful mix of humility and confidence. Both grew directly from my relationships with the members of my cohort—those nine individuals are the most passionate, talented, and gifted people I will ever know. I was honored to be among them, and felt simultaneously unworthy to be their peer and capable of facing any challenge with their help.
To put it simply, the fellowship gave me the mettle to knowingly walk into a situation where success was questionable and confidently lay the groundwork to make a positive difference.
Kevin is currently an Associate Dean at New England College in the United States. He oversees the business programs at the college, a regional leader in social entrepreneurship with emphasis on experiential learning and sustainability. He worked with d.light in Kenya during his Fellowship focusing on expansion in East Africa.