Acumen Fund Announces 2010 Fellows

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Innovative Program Cultivates Next Generation of Global Leaders, Matches Young Professionals with Social Enterprises Solving Problems of Poverty in South Asia and Africa

I look forward to working with Acumen investee UHEAL, an affordable eye care provider in Kenya, applying my educational and work experience to serve the needs of UHEAL's customers and providing them the dignity of choice in how they access eye care.

Acumen Fund, a nonprofit venture capital firm addressing poverty in South Asia and East Africa, today announced the selection of the 2010 class of Acumen Fund Fellows. Designed to address a talent gap in the social sector and cultivate the next generation of global leaders, the Acumen Fund Fellows Program offers extraordinary young professionals the unique opportunity to use their skills to effect real social change by providing on-the-ground management support to Acumen investees in Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, India and Pakistan.

"Through the Fellows Program, Acumen Fund prepares future global leaders with the tools necessary to drive significant social change," said Jacqueline Novogratz, Chief Executive Officer of Acumen Fund. "This year's class is our most diverse yet in terms of age, geography and university background. The opportunity to hone their leadership skills and work with one of our social entrepreneurs will allow the Fellows to develop new perspectives and insights that will be critical in building innovative solutions to poverty."

370 accomplished individuals from 49 countries applied for the 10 available 2010 fellowships. The Fellows Program begins with a demanding eight-week training course that features in-depth discussions and workshops with corporate and nonprofit leaders, academics, and former Acumen Fellows. This training is followed by a nine-month assignment with one of Acumen's portfolio companies that provides critical goods and services -- health care, housing, water, and energy -- to people living in poverty across South Asia and East Africa. Assignments in the past have ranged from redesigning a marketing-and-branding strategy for a microfinance organization to defining geographic expansion strategy to building internal HR systems. The Fellows Program is capped off with three weeks spent at Acumen Fund's New York City office, during which time returning participants share lessons learned in the field with the Acumen team, community members, and the next class of fellows.

The Acumen Fund Fellows Program is fundamental to Acumen Fund's mission to end poverty by investing in enterprises and leaders to strengthen and scale business models that effectively serve the poor. Fellows apply their knowledge and skills to the needs of Acumen investees while gaining valuable professional experience and building lasting relationships that the Fellows, Acumen Fund and the social enterprise sector will be able to draw on in the future.

Qualifications for the Acumen Fund Fellows Program include demonstrated entrepreneurial spirit, an advanced degree and/or three to five years of relevant operational work experience, cultural sensitivity to the needs and challenges of the communities and enterprises with which Acumen Fund works, and a commitment to Acumen's mission of serving as a catalyst for change by supporting models that bring critical, affordable goods and services to the world's poor.

"The Acumen Fund Fellows Program is a unique opportunity to work closely with innovative social entrepreneurs who are striving to improve their communities and solve some of the everyday challenges faced by the poor," said 2010 Fellow Gamuchirai Chituri. "I look forward to working with Acumen investee UHEAL, an affordable eye care provider in Kenya, applying my educational and work experience to serve the needs of UHEAL's customers and providing them the dignity of choice in how they access eye care."

Acumen Fund's 2010 Fellows class comprises the following extraordinary individuals:

Sule Amadu (Ghana)
Sule will work with d.light design, an Acumen investee which replaces expensive, unsafe kerosene lanterns with LED lamps, in India. He has a background in global social sustainable enterprise and mechanical engineering with an MBA from Colorado State University.

Josephat Byaruhanga (Uganda)
Josephat will work in Kenya with Western Seeds, which promotes sustainability and produces seed varieties appropriate for traditionally low-income farmers. He has experience managing rural community development programs and a Masters in Sustainable International Development from Brandeis.

Gamuchirai Chituri (Zimbabwe)
Gamuchirai will work with UHEAL, which provides access to specialized eye care services for diabetic retinopathy previously unavailable to low-income customers in Kenya. She has built an enterprise that trains young entrepreneurs from Zimbabwe in starting businesses.

Sarah Dimson (U.S.)
Sarah will work in Pakistan with AMC, a for-profit, low-income housing company. She has experience in non profit consulting and affordable housing development and a BA in Science, Technology & Society from Stanford University.

Yehia Houry (Lebanon and Canada)
Yehia will work in India with 1298, the first reliable emergency medical response service in Mumbai. He has experience as a financial analyst, focusing on access to financing for the poor and a Masters in International Affairs from Columbia University.

Asim Hussnain (Pakistan)
Asim will work with Micro Drip, which provides affordable drip irrigation technology to small-scale farmers in Pakistan. He has a background in microfinance and microenterprise development and an MBA from Lahore University of Management Science.

Kevin Martin (U.S.)
Kevin will work in Kenya with d.light design on marketing. He has experience in sustainable enterprise working with international development organizations and an MBA from the University of North Carolina.

Satoko Okamoto (Japan)
Satoko will work with AyurVaid, an affordable hospital chain providing comprehensive care for chronic diseases in India. She has a background in microfinance and advocating public/private partnerships in international peacebuilding initiatives. Satoko has a masters from Johns Hopkins University.

Meghan Simkins (U.S.)
Meghan will work with LifeSpring, a network of affordable maternal and child healthcare hospitals in India. She has a background in public health and business administration and a Masters in Public Health from Columbia University.

Muhammad Zahoor (Pakistan)
Muhammad will work in Pakistan with FMIA, a company providing micro-insurance products for low-income families. He has experience managing rural development programs and in public-sector education, and he holds masters degrees from the University of Peshawar and Malakand University in Pakistan.

More information on the 2010 Acumen Fund Fellows will be made available in the fall on Acumen's website, acumenfund.org, and they will be writing about their experiences on the Acumen Fund blog, acumenfundblog.org.

About Acumen Fund
Acumen Fund is a nonprofit venture fund that invests in market-oriented approaches for delivering critical, affordable goods and services to the world's poor. Acumen Fund's efforts focus on the convergence of philanthropic capital and business expertise to produce sustainable, scalable enterprises that reach underserved markets and open access to the opportunities of the global economy. For more information on Acumen Fund's activities and investments, visit acumenfund.org.

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John Keaten
Acumen Fund
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