Acumen Fund Announces Sixth Class of Global Fellows

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Fellows program develops emerging leaders to tackle poverty through building businesses that provide critical services to the poor.

The Fellows are the future architects of the social sector, designing the social change initiatives that are creating scalable, innovative methods for providing resources and dignity to the poor.

Acumen Fund, a nonprofit venture firm addressing poverty in South Asia and East Africa, announced its 2012 class of Global Fellows today from a highly competitive pool of 550 applicants in 65 countries. The program addresses a talent gap in the social sector, cultivating the next generation of global leaders by fusing the operational and financial skills of its young professional recruits with moral imagination to create new solutions to global poverty. During the course of the year-long program, Acumen Fund Global Fellows will augment their leadership capacity and provide much needed management support to Acumen Fund investees serving the poor.

Acumen Fund selected nine extraordinary individuals to follow in the footsteps of the last five classes of participants. “Through the Acumen Fund Global Fellows Program, we are investing in innovators and visionaries who will become the next generation of leaders, utilizing their skills and this year-long experience to help solve the ongoing challenges of global poverty,” said Jacqueline Novogratz, CEO of Acumen Fund. “The Fellows are the future architects of the social sector, designing the social change initiatives that are creating scalable, innovative methods for providing resources and dignity to the poor.”

This year’s class of Fellows is one of most impressive to date, with the nine participants of various backgrounds, religions and ages, hailing from 7 countries around the world, including Zimbabwe, India, Saudi Arabia, Japan, Iran, the United Kingdom and the United States. Professionally, their backgrounds are diverse, from management consultants at top firms such as Bain & Company and Capgemini, to program officers at international NGOs, including the Telecom for Basic Human Needs in Japan and King Khalid Foundation in Saudi Arabia, to entrepreneurs that have founded their own organizations like Globe All Peace, a nonprofit that promotes education in remote and impoverished regions in Iran. Additionally, the group is fluent in more than fifteen languages, and has collectively lived in and traveled to over fifty countries.

The Fellows program begins at Acumen Fund’s New York City office, where the cohort will gather in September for eight weeks of intensive and multidisciplinary leadership training. The skill-building exercises explore a combination of both hard and soft skills, including instruction on investment and valuation techniques, marketing and operations, business negotiation, as well as self reflection and storytelling. The Fellows will also be meeting with leaders from diverse backgrounds, and acclaimed writers and thinkers. After this training is completed, each recruit will be assigned an Acumen Fund investee for whom they will work during the following nine months.

Member of the 2012 class of Fellows, Rutendo Change remarked, “The Acumen Fund Global Fellows share a common desire to serve others, an open mind eager to learn more, and an adventurous spirit ready to tackle any challenge. I look forward to joining the Acumen Fund family and being a part of a community focused on significant, scalable change, while coming away with the skills and experience to be a leader pushing the impact investing sector forward.”

After the one-year fellowship program, Alumni move on to lead social initiatives in for-profit companies, run innovative non-profits, launch new social enterprises, and manage social investment portfolios. For example, Jocelyn Wyatt is the founder and Executive Director of using design thinking for social impact; Ram Hariharan is the Director of Operations at Bridge International Academies bringing affordable education to slum dwellers across East Africa at scale; and Jawad Aslam, is the founder of Ansaar Management Company, which builds low-income housing in Pakistan.

In 2010, the Acumen Fund Global Fellows Program was named as a finalist for the John P. McNulty Prize, an award affiliated with the Aspen Global Leadership Network aimed at recognizing exceptional leadership projects that galvanize efforts to address the foremost social, economic and political challenges of our time.

Qualifications for the Fellows Program include a proven track record of leadership and management responsibilities, experience working in emerging markets, unrelenting perseverance, personal integrity, critical thinking skills, strong passion and commitment, an advanced degree, and three to seven years of work experience.

More information about the Acumen Fund Global Fellows Program may be found on Acumen Fund’s website,, and on its blog, The application process for the Class of 2013 opens on October 3, 2011.

About Acumen Fund
Acumen Fund is working to create a world beyond poverty by investing in social enterprises, emerging leaders and breakthrough ideas. We invest patient capital in business models that deliver critical, affordable goods and services to the world’s poor, improving the lives of millions. Since its founding in 2001, Acumen Fund has invested more than $60 million in enterprises that provide access to water, health, energy, housing and agricultural services to low-income customers in South Asia and East Africa. And we are building a global community of emerging leaders that believe in creating a more inclusive world through the tools of both business and philanthropy.


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