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Acumen Fellows Global Gathering: Day 1 Recap

A group of Acumen Fellows
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It only seemed fitting that the Global Gathering kicked off with the vibrant colors and electric rhythms of East Africa. Adorned in Maasai cloths, the East Africa Fellows—with some help from the Global Fellows—set the tone for a day of nonstop energy and inspiring conversation.

The dome buzzed with excitement as Jacqueline took the stage, reflecting on the conception of Acumen’s leadership work more than a decade ago and the work of each and every one of you. “The world looks different today because of you, our Fellows. I ask that none of you leave here this week without committing yourself to the work the world needs.”

Jawad Aslam, Acumen Fellow turned Acumen entrepreneur, shared his journey to build Ansaar Management Company (AMC), a long, hard road ridden with personal and professional roadblocks that required grit, patience and faith—and the support of a number of Fellows, who all played an important role in making AMC Acumen’s second largest equity exit and its first from Pakistan. “It takes a collaborative effort to achieve success. AMC stands on the shoulders of many people sitting here in this room.”

AGRA’s Agnes Kalibata inspired the room with her stories of taking on the problems of poverty in Rwanda while reminding the crowd that, even in the dark moments, to “not betray your conscience because there’s nothing better in the world than doing the right thing.”

Safaricom’s Bob Collymore and KCB Bank Group’s Joshua Oigara spoke openly and honestly about tackling corruption and improving transparency in Kenya, and shared their advice on what it means to redefine business. “Businesses that have a purpose will run the world for generations to come,” Joshua said. “You are all in the right race to create a transformation that will live long past today.”

Of course, the conversation didn’t stop there. India Fellow Sathya Raghu’s talk on the role of listening was especially apt when it came time for Story Walks and Fellows-led breakout sessions, which covered everything from identity and interfaith dialogue to fundraising and embracing pluralism.

It was a day packed with emotion and enthusiasm, but we couldn’t end the night without a special birthday surprise for Jaqueline led by the Pakistan Fellows.

Read the recap of day 2 here.
Read the recap of day 3 here.