West Africa Fellowship
Applications opening Jul 1
West Africa Fellowship
Entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs and organization-builders from both public and private sectors model a new type of leadership grounded in hope and dignity.
When is the Acumen West Africa Fellowship?
The next West Africa Fellowship runs from January 2021 to December 2021.
What is the Acumen West Africa Fellowship?
Practical skills meet moral imagination in this intensive year-long leadership development program designed to equip extraordinary individuals with the tools, mindset, and community to tackle poverty and injustice in their communities.
- Join a diverse cohort of social change leaders in a rigorous year-long experience
- Improve your capacity to innovate and drive change with a mix of in-person and online seminars
- Part-time — you stay in your job while participating in four 5-day seminar in various locations across West Africa
Beyond Year 1
- Be a part of a lifelong fellowship that extends beyond your first year
- Join a larger local and global community committed to a world beyond poverty and injustice
West Africa is home to some of the world’s fastest growing economies – yet it will require a different type of leadership to ensure that the fruits of this growth are felt by all. It will require leaders grounded in integrity, and relentless in their pursuit of equity and justice. The West Africa Fellowship will bring together entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs and organization-builders from both the public and private sectors who are modeling this leadership, and who are hungry to do more.
What makes a fellow?
Our fellows are extraordinary leaders who dare to embrace the difficult journey of social change. Here’s what we want from you—and what you can expect from your cohort.
- Entrepreneurs: Leaders of both for-profit and nonprofit organizations providing critical goods or services to the underserved.
- Intrapreneurs: Builders from any sector tackling poverty and injustice from within by shifting the institutional culture—and building new collaborations.
- Organizational Builders: Leaders (other than the Founder or CEO) supporting the growth of institutions combating poverty and injustice
What will you learn?
The Fellowship curriculum is centered around the principles of moral leadership:
- Adaptive Leadership: Based on Ron Heifetz’s work, Adaptive Leadership is a practical leadership framework that supports Fellows’ ability to catalyse and embrace the gradual and meaningful process of creating change.
- Authentic Voice: Grounded in Marshall Ganz’s life's work, the Authentic Voice curriculum allows the Fellows to develop the capacity to articulate a hopeful vision, speak across lines of difference, and move others into action.
- Good Society Readings: Modeled off The Aspen Institute, the Good Society Readings explore the meaning of a just society, and the moral and historical foundation of social change through text based dialogue
- Managing Polarities: Based on Barry Johnson’s work, Polarities aims to cultivate an individual’s ability to lead effectively when opposing but interdependent and equally important values are in tension.
- Systems Thinking: Fellows explore the concept of Systems Thinking by working collaboratively on live challenges—enabling them to better understand larger, systemic problems and design more effective interventions.
How to Apply
Our application process consists of these steps.
- 1Step 1: Leave us your information here and be the first to know when applications open
- 2Step 2: Apply online - Applications open 1 July and closes 6 August
- 3Step 3: Complete Stage 2 application between 7 Sept and 24 Sept
- 4Step 4: Attend an in-person Selection Conference in mid-November
- 5Step 5: Fellows are announced in January 2021
When will you find out?
- 1Step 1: Our Fellows are selected in early December
- 2Step 2: Fellows are announced in January 2021
Not ready to apply?
Join our email list to be notified of the next fellowship.
West Africa Fellows
West Africa Fellows
Brenda Brewer Moore
Director of Daawah an NGO based out of Nigeria
West Africa Fellow
Co-founder of Coliba
West Africa Fellow
Manager at Adam Smith International
West Africa Fellow
Co-founder and CEO of Opacus Technologies Limited
West Africa Fellow
Frequently Asked Questions
The Application & Selection Process
What is the Acumen Fellowship?
The purpose of the Acumen Fellowship is to develop a community of leaders who challenge the status quo, work across lines of difference and inspire their communities to believe in a brighter future.
The Fellowship is the start of a journey towards mastering the skills, attributes, and values of moral leadership: a combination of empathy, immersion, understanding, and action. What binds our Fellows is shared values, a common commitment to a world beyond poverty and injustice, a pledge to accompany one another, to help and celebrate one another, and to hold each other to account.
Who are Acumen Fellows?
The Fellowship is designed for individuals who are currently leading or are an integral part of building an initiative whose mission is to eradicate poverty or injustice. Our Fellows are of all ages, come from diverse cultural, geographic and socioeconomic backgrounds and work across multiple sectors.
Acumen Fellows understand that poverty extends beyond income levels, and that the opposite of poverty is not income: it is dignity. Dignity is freedom. It is having control over decisions that affect our lives.
General Fellowship Eligibility
Do I have to be working in a social enterprise to be considered for the Fellowship?
Although many of our Fellows do work in social enterprises, Fellows can be working in any sector (including for-profit, nonprofit, corporations, and government).
Is the Fellowship only open to entrepreneurs?
Fellows go on various career paths and personal journeys over their lives, but many of the Fellows we’ve seen over the years include: - Entrepreneurs who have founded or are leading a for-profit or nonprofit organization that provides critical goods and services to the underserved - Intrapreneurs who are creating innovative solutions to tackle poverty or injustice from within existing institutions by shifting institutional culture and building new collaborations. - Organizational builders who are supporting the growth of poverty or injustice-focused institution from within, but not as the founder or CEO We are looking for an entrepreneurial attitude, mindset, and approach – people who don’t accept the status quo.
What are the academic qualifications for the Fellowship?
There are no specific academic prerequisites.
Are there a minimum or maximum age requirements for Fellows?
No. There is neither a minimum age requirement nor a maximum age cut off.
Do I need to currently be involved in work focused on poverty or injustice?
Yes. We are looking for individuals who currently have a leadership role in an organization or initiative committed to fighting poverty or injustice on a full-time basis. We will, on an exceptional basis, consider applicants who are working part-time, as long as they demonstrate a full-time commitment to fighting poverty or injustice.
Can two people from the same organization apply for the Acumen Fellowship?
The Acumen Fellowship is a significant investment in an individual’s leadership journey. As the Fellowship is competitive and only offers 20 spots per year in each region, we aim to amplify our impact through the Fellows by asking them to take learnings from the Fellowship back to their teams and communities.
This means that in a given year, while multiple people from the same organization may apply, should you all meet our basic eligibility criteria, we will only be able to select one of you to advance in the selection process. We suggest keeping this in mind as you make the decision regarding whether one or more of you will apply in the same year.
This also means that, within a 3 year period, we will not be able to accept more than one person as a Fellow from the same organization. If somebody from your organization has been an Acumen Fellow in the last 3 years, we will not be able to accept your application this year. If nobody from your organization is an Acumen Fellow yet, we suggest keeping this in mind as you make the decision regarding which person in your organization is best suited to apply at this point in your leadership journeys.
Can I apply if I have taken +Acumen courses?
Absolutely! Taking Acumen Academy courses prior to the fellowship is strongly encouraged.
West Africa Fellowship Eligibility
Is English proficiency a requirement?
Yes. All seminars and training are conducted in English. Conversational proficiency in English is a requirement to ensure Fellows are able to give and get the most from this experience.
Do I have to be a citizen of West Africa to apply?
No. Citizenship is not a requirement.
Is someone eligible to apply for the West Africa Fellowship if they have taken part in an Acumen Fellowship in a different region?
No. Each cohort of Acumen Fellows must be comprised of individuals who have not previously taken part in an Acumen Fellowship. This is specific to Acumen’s programs; candidates who have participated in other fellowships or leadership programs, or who have taken +Acumen courses, are welcome to apply.
West Africa Fellowship Timing
How is the Fellowship structured?
Fellows remain in their jobs and come together for four seminars, each lasting 6 days, throughout the year. Attendance at each seminar is mandatory. Between seminars, Fellows are expected to participate in and complete online readings and assignments.
What is the total time commitment required for the Fellowship?
The total in-person time commitment is about 24 days (4 seminars, 6 days each) over the course of the year, plus travel time to the seminar locations. Whenever possible we have scheduled seminars to run from Tuesday to Sunday.
Between seminars, you will be expected to spend additional time on program-related assignments, email correspondence and collaborative projects for approximately 3/4 hours per week.
Where will the different seminars and meetings for the program be held?
The seminars are typically held in or around major cities across West Africa. In the past, they have been held in:
For 2020, individuals will be notified the exact dates of the seminars upon being selected as a Fellow at the beginning of 2021.
General Fellowship Structure
Which costs does the program cover?
Acumen covers all program-related expenses during the fellowship year. This includes all costs associated with the seminars including lodging, food, transportation and visas.
Does the Fellowship provide scholarships, funding or additional benefits?
No. As this is a part-time program, we do not provide scholarships, stipends, funding or insurance.
We do provide need-based scholarships for travel and accommodation for individuals selected to attend for Stage 3 Selection Conference in end-November/early-December. Individuals who pass through Stage 2 and are interested in being considered for scholarship are asked to apply for it when they are invited to the Conference.
Do I automatically qualify for grant funding or an investment if I participate in the Fellowship?
No. Acumen’s leadership development programs are completely independent of our investment activities. If you are interested in learning more about Acumen’s investment criteria, click here.
What happens during and between the seminars?
During the Fellowship, Fellows are equipped with the knowledge, support systems and skills to challenge the status quo, work across lines of difference and mobilize their communities.
Curriculum includes: Good Society Readings, Adaptive Leadership, Authentic Voice, Polarity Management and Systems Thinking. Though seminars and online content between seminars, Fellows build trust and test new leadership skills within their cohort. This cohort-based model creates deep bonds of trust and fellowship, which persist long beyond the first year and which Fellows utilize to create greater impact.
What is the attendance policy? What if I need to miss a seminar?
The program has a 100% attendance requirement, and all selected Fellows must attend all program meetings (seminars) and complete assignments between seminars or face possible removal from the program. We make exceptions for emergencies on a case-by-case basis.
Is internet connectivity a requirement to participate in the program?
Yes. The primary method of communication regarding logistics and other important information is email. Assignments between seminars will be provided via an online learning platform. Therefore, all Fellows must have regular and reliable internet access that allows the downloading and uploading of documents as well as audio and video files.
West Africa Application Timelines
What are the application deadlines? And what happens after I submit my application?
Upon application submission, our selection team will carefully review submissions and participation at each stage of the process, and select candidates who will advance to the next stage. At each stage of the application process, all candidates will receive communication from our team about the progress of their application.
The Application & Selection Process
How many Fellows are selected each year in each region?
On average, we select 20 Fellows per year in each region.
What are the technology requirements for accessing and completing the application?
For Stage 1 and Stage 2 of the application process, applicants will need a stable internet connection. All application documents and components must be submitted through an online portal. We highly recommend using Google Chrome or Firefox as your browser. Late submissions (both Stage 1 and Stage 2) due to internet or technology issues will not be accepted. Please plan to submit your application well in advance before the deadline.
If you experience issues submitting any element of your application, please try submitting your application from a different browser, computer or a different location with stronger internet connectivity. If you continue experiencing issues, please contact the Acumen team via firstname.lastname@example.org
Will I get notified after my application has been submitted?
Yes. Our system automatically sends a confirmation email once your initial application has been submitted. If you do not receive one immediately after submitting your application, please check your email settings to make sure that our emails are not caught in your spam filter. We will send emails through the following domains: @sendgrid.me, and @acumen.org
### Are recommendation letters required? No. However, during the later stages of the selection process, we will ask you to provide the contact information of two professional references that we can contact if you make it to the third and final stage of the selection process. Your references should be people with whom you have worked closely. They should not be family, friends or spouses.
Can I edit my application after it’s been submitted?
No, this is not possible.
However, it is possible to save your application before submitting it, to return to later for editing. Make sure you double check all elements of your application before it is submitted. We cannot accept edits or changes after the fact, either through the platform or by email.
After the Fellowship
Is post-Fellowship job placement provided?
What do Fellows do after completing the program? What type of professional and personal development support does the Acumen Fellows Program offer?
Acumen is invested not only in each Fellows’ growth over the course of the year-long program, but also in their development as lifelong agents of fighting poverty or injustice. After completing the first year, Fellows may receive continued mentorship and coaching. Acumen also has a very active and growing network of social sector organizations, thought leaders, and Fellows across the globe. We engage all Acumen Fellows through events, newsletters and subsequent recruitment and selection processes. In addition, after the program the Fellows become part of a community of moral leaders who are fighting poverty or injustice in their region and across the world.
If you still have questions after reading the Frequently Asked Questions, please email email@example.com
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