Gain world-class leadership training. Serve in the field with a social enterprise. Join a cohort of emerging leaders who will change the world. Applications for the next cohort of Global Fellows will open in November 2016.



Now in its 11th year, the Global Fellows Program is a 12-month fellowship for individuals dedicated to changing the way the world tackles poverty. We are looking for potential social sector leaders who embody service above self. Leaders who take a systems change approach to the world’s biggest problems and have the moral imagination to effect long term change. Leaders who are strong collaborators, are self-aware and adaptive. Leaders who are dedicated to addressing the problems of poverty and bring a blend of leadership capabilities and strong business skills to the table.  Acumen Fellows are a different kind of leader. And one day, they’re going to change the world.

The fellowship begins with eight weeks of training in the Acumen New York office, where Fellows build their understanding of the problems of poverty, the current tensions in the sector as we explore solutions and understand the role we have to play. The 2 months are also an exploration and reflection on Self, Other, and System, requiring deep introspection, and a willingness to change our own values, beliefs, and behaviors, before we can effect change in the world.

After training, each Fellow is placed with a company within Acumen’s ecosystem where they work on a key business challenge. In the past Fellows have worked on projects ranging from leading operations of a new business unit at a cotton ginnery in Uganda, to leading operations at a coffee processing company in Rwanda, to building partnerships for a vocational skills training company in India.

Since 2006, we have received more than 5,000 applications from 110 countries and trained 97 Fellows from over 25 countries. After the Fellowship year, Fellows continue to create social change, with 85% of the Fellows currently in leadership positions at socially progressive organizations such as,  Endeavor, Bamboo Finance, New Island Capital, Omidyar Network, MercyCorp, Gates Foundation, Andela and Silatech.



September to mid-November

The Global Fellowship begins with two months of intensive training at the Acumen offices in New York.  The training curriculum is based on the three core principles of moral imagination, operational expertise, and financial experience. Acumen partners with some of the foremost organizations to deliver this leadership curriculum.


Mid-November to August

For nine months, Fellows work at companies within Acumen’s ecosystem as key staff members. Fellows work directly with entrepreneurs, provide strategic input on pressing business challenges, interact with customers, and grapple, first-hand, with the complex issues of addressing the needs of the poor.


September & Onwards

Fellows return to New York to share their experiences and insights with the Acumen staff and community. The Fellowship culminates in an evening Fellows Celebration in mid-September to recognize and reflect on the work. After September, Fellows join a growing interconnected community.  Fellows stay in touch through newsletters, a group listserv that shares updates and upcoming opportunities – whether job postings, fellowship or funding opportunities – and through regular happy hours, meet ups and gatherings in their local community.  Fellows also participate and play an active role in future selection of Acumen Global Fellows.

Investment Model

As a non-profit, we raise charitable donations that allow us to make patient long-term debt or equity investments in early-stage companies providing reliable and affordable access to agricultural inputs, quality education, clean energy, healthcare services, formal housing, and safe drinking water to low-income customers.


We've shown what's possible

But there's lots more to do

Acumen started as an idea to combine the best of markets with the best of aid and charity. Now we have a proven model that’s giving the poor access to everything from ambulances to electricity.



Providing Choice not charity


Million Invested

In breakthrough innovations


Jobs Created & supported

Improving livelihoods and economies


Million lives impacted

With dignity not dependence

Investment Criteria

We invest in game-changing companies that are transforming the way the world tackles poverty. To us, that means identifying enterprises that meet the following criteria:

  • Geography: Be located in or have significant operations or impact in East Africa, West Africa, India, Pakistan, or Latin America (launching soon).
  • Sectors: Operate in one of our investment sectors of Agriculture, Education, Energy, Health, Housing, or Water.
  • Stage: Be an early-mid stage company that is in the process of scaling. We rarely invest in pure start-up companies. Check out the FAQ section on the “Apply for Investment” page to learn more about the stages we invest.
  • Investment Size: Be seeking investment capital in the range of $0.25M-$3M, structured as either debt or equity.
  • Strong Management Team: Have a strong and experienced management team with the skills, will, and vision to execute the business plan, an unwavering commitment to serve the poor, and unyielding ethics.

  • Potential for Significant Social Impact: Make a product or deliver a service that addresses a critical need for the poor in our sectors and geographic focus.  These products or services must be economically better or create greater social impact than what is available currently through the market, aid, or charitable distribution.
  • Potential for Financial Sustainability: Have a clear business model that demonstrates the potential for financial sustainability within a five to seven year period; including the ability to cover operating expenses with operating revenues.
  • Potential to Achieve Scale: Be able to demonstrate a clear path to scale for the number of end users over the period of our investment, and be positioned as one of the leading service providers in the market.


The Brinson Foundation • Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women • The Harnisch Foundation • King Khalid Foundation • The Partridge Foundation • The Tokyo Foundation • The Woodcock Foundation

Global Fellows In the News

  • Close Drawer

    Ame 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.” [READ MORE]

    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

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    Aliyah Kurji

    “Aliyah Kurji will work in Nairobi, Kenya with d.light design, a company that makes low-cost solar lights that provides cleaner, safer, and cheaper lighting to families living...” [READ MORE]

    Aliyah Kurji will work in Nairobi, Kenya with d.light design, a company that makes low-cost solar lights that provides cleaner, safer, and cheaper lighting to families living at the bottom of the pyramid. Aliyah is from Kenya and has worked with Accenture as a Senior Consultant for over six years in the UK. She has also worked with SmallWorld Cambodia and is a member of RAPID UK Urban Search and Rescue. She holds a BA from the University of Warwick and has pursued her MBA from Oxford.

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    Ajay 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.” [READ MORE]

    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

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    Adedotun Eyinade

    “The fellowship helped me see the world from a different angle - an angle the corporate world is not used to, but which is so important in order to make the world a better place.” [READ MORE]

    Adedotun Eyinade will work in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania with Husk Power Systems. Husk uses innovative biomass technology to convert abundant rice husks into energy that provides power to rural villages. Adedotun is from Nigeria and has worked for KPMG for over four years, most recently as a Senior Associate in Financial Risk Management. He holds a Bsc in Microbiology from the Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria and an International Certificate in Banking Risk and Regulation.

  • Close Drawer

    Abbas Akhtar

    “Adedotun Eyinade will work in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania with Husk Power Systems. Husk uses innovative biomass technology to convert abundant rice husks into energy that provides...” [READ MORE]

    Abbas is working in Lahore, Pakistan with Ansaar Management Company (AMC), a housing development and management company that provides an integrated approach to affordable, quality housing in Pakistan.  He is working on partnership development with investors and financial institutions, while also supporting organizational financial management.  Abbas is from Pakistan and has worked with Google, Apple, and with UNDP. He is the founder of Abbas holds a B.S. in Computer Science from San Jose State, and an M.A. in International Relations & International Economics from Johns Hopkins.