Chris Walker, Acumen Fund FellowPermalink
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Interested in joining a diverse group of young leaders from around the world who are dedicated to reducing poverty? Want to learn about the role the private sector can play in international development? Curious what it would be like to help a company based in a developing country address some of its most pressing strategic needs? If your answer, like mine, is an emphatic yes, it's not too late to apply for the Acumen Fund Fellows program, which is accepting applications until October 24 for its next class of fellows.
Acumen Fund, a non-profit venture capital fund based in New York City, invests in entrepreneurial approaches to reducing global poverty. In addition to providing capital, Acumen Fund offers management support to its investees through its year-long Fellows program. I joined the second annual class of Fellows in September to begin two months of orientation and training in New York. In the first four weeks of the program, the other Fellows and I have met with a series of non-profit and business leaders, discussed case studies of businesses working in developing countries, participated in leadership development activities, and begun to research the businesses to which we have been assigned. I will soon be heading out to work for an ambulance company in Mumbai, India to assist with its marketing strategy as it strives to meet the emergency medical needs of the city's poorest. After nine months in the field, I will return to New York for a month to share the lessons I've learned and wrap up the one-year fellowship program.
The program has attracted a diverse group of fellows from around the world who share an interest in meeting the needs of the poorest through sustainable private sector approaches. My own path to the Fellows program is as different as the rest of those in the program. After receiving my Masters degree in public policy with a focus on international development, I worked on a range of international economic issues as well as on development and foreign aid policy at the State Department, the US Treasury Department, and most recently at the Millennium Challenge Corporation. Having worked on poverty from a high-level policy perspective, I was interested in getting back into the field and learning about the constraints that the private sector faces in developing countries. I was also curious to learn about innovative business approaches that seek to address poverty in a sustainable way.
While I have spent my career in government and diplomatic circles, the six other Fellows in the program come from completely different backgrounds. They have worked on microfinance in Kenya, design thinking to solve business problems, refugee resettlement, low-income housing development in Pakistan, and management and organizational consulting. Each of us brings a unique perspective to our discussions of business, international development, and leadership, creating a rich learning environment for all of us.
If you're interested in applying for this unique program, you can find additional information here.