Pakistan Fellowship

Pakistan Fellows

Join a community of social innovators who are challenging the status quo and inspiring others to build a more equitable Pakistan.

When is the Acumen Pakistan Fellowship starting?

Applications for the Pakistan Fellows Program 2023 are now closed. Sign up to receive updates for our 2024 cohort.

What is the Acumen Pakistan Fellowship?

Each year, the Acumen Pakistan Fellowship brings together ~20 extraordinary individuals tackling poverty and injustice in their communities, equipping them with the practices and community needed to deepen and sustain their impact.

The Fellowship begins with a fully-funded year-long leadership program, where Fellows maintain their role while taking part in a series of immersive residentials, virtual workshops, and group practice. This is where practical skills meet moral imagination. The program is designed to increase a Fellow’s capacity to tackle problems of injustice and inequity.

After the first year, Fellows become part of Acumen’s global community of social innovators committed to lifelong learning, collaboration, and accompaniment as they build a world based on dignity.

Learn more before you apply

Cohort-Based Seminars

Virtual Content


Real-World Applicability

Year 1: Fellowship Year

  • Join a diverse cohort of social change leaders from across sectors and disciplines
  • Improve your capacity to innovate and drive change by practicing essential systems leadership skills
  • Learn via a mix of immersive seminars, workshops, and self-directed leadership experiments
  • Part-time — you stay in your job while participating in the program
  • Peer coaching that challenges and accompanies you in your practice
  • All program-related costs are covered by Acumen Academy in Pakistan

Beyond Year 1: What happens after the program

  • Join our growing alumni community of over 1,000 social innovators around the world — we call this community 'The Foundry'
  • Access the resources and relationships to amplify your important work in architecting a just, inclusive, and sustainable world. This includes access to social innovators, funders, and mentors

What makes a Fellow?

Our Fellows are extraordinary leaders who dare to embrace the difficult journey of social change. You will be joining a cohort composed of individuals who will typically be on one of the following trajectories:

  • Social Entrepreneurs: Founding or leading a for-profit or non-profit organization that provides critical goods or services to underserved populations
  • Social Intrapreneurs: Creating innovative solutions to tackle challenges from within an existing institution by shifting its culture and/or strategy, and building new collaborations
  • Organizational Builders: Supporting the growth of an organization focused on alleviating challenges by building the internal structures, and processes that enable the organization to pursue its purpose
  • Public Sector Leaders: Reimagining public policy and leveraging the government services to drive change at a systems level

Check out examples of past Fellows at the bottom of this page.

What will I learn and do?

Embrace the gradual and meaningful process of creating systemic change at the personal, organizational, and societal levels:

Personal - Examine the identities, values, and choices that have shaped your journey until now and cultivate a deeper understanding of yourself and your work. Explore the meaning of a just society and the moral and historical foundation of social change through text-based dialogue.

Organizational - Cultivate the ability to lead effectively when opposing but interdependent values are in tension. Understand how to lead diverse stakeholders through recurring and complex challenges.

Systemic - Question your assumptions and beliefs about leading effective change. Navigate the system you operate in using moral imagination.

Our curriculum draws on powerful leadership frameworks, tools, and approaches, including Adaptive Leadership, Authentic Voice, Good Society Readings, Polarities Management, Immunity to Change, and Systems Thinking.

Hear from our Fellows

HubSpot Video


Application Process

Our three-stage online selection process is designed to understand your capacity, willingness, and potential to grow as social innovators who will be at the forefront of reimagining systems and rebuilding Pakistan.

  1. Apply Online – what are you telling us? 1 - 26 Feb 2023
  2. Complete your online assignments – what are you showing us? 24 Mar - 9 Apr 2023
  3. Attend the Selection Conference – why is this the right time for you to be a Fellow? 27 May 2023
  4. Immerse yourself in the Acumen Pakistan Fellowship – Jul - Dec 2023

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Acumen Fellowship?


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 Eligibility


Do I have to be working in a social enterprise to be considered for the Fellowship?

No. 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?

No. Fellows go on various career paths and personal journeys over their lives, but many of the Fellows we’ve seen over the years include:

Social Entrepreneurs: Founding or leading a for-profit or non-profit organization that provides critical goods or services to underserved populations.

Social Intrapreneurs: Creating innovative solutions to tackle challenges from within an existing institution by shifting its culture and/or strategy, and building new collaborations.

Organizational Builders: Supporting the growth of an organization focused on alleviating challenges by building the internal structures, and processes that enable the organization to pursue its purpose.

Public Sector Leaders: Reimagining public policy and leveraging the government services to drive change at a systems level.

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.

Is there an age requirements for Fellows?

There is neither a minimum age requirement nor a maximum age cut off. However, we cannot enroll children into the program.

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.

How many years of work experience do I need?

We want Fellows with a demonstrated track record of leadership and commitment to solving problems of poverty. Many of our Fellows have at least 7-10 years of work experience.

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.

Can I apply if I have taken Acumen Academy courses?

Absolutely! Taking Acumen Academy courses prior to the fellowship is strongly encouraged.

Pakistan 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 Pakistan to apply?

No. You do not have to be a citizen of Pakistan. However you have to be living and working in Pakistan and demonstrate a concrete connection to the region (i.e. long-term employment, residency, the focus of the social change work).

Is someone eligible to apply for the Pakistan 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 Academy courses, are welcome to apply.

Structure & Timing


How is the Fellowship structured?

Fellows remain in their roles and come together for 3 in-person seminars, each lasting 6 days, throughout the year. In addition, 2 seminars are delivered virtually, spanning 4-5 days each. Attendance at each seminar is mandatory.

What is the total time commitment required for the Fellowship?

The total time commitment is about 30 days over the course of the year - of which ~18 is planned to be in-person. Whenever possible, we have scheduled seminars from Monday until Saturday.

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 Pakistan.

Individuals will be notified the exact dates of the seminars upon being selected as a Fellow around May 2023.

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.

Our curriculum draws on powerful leadership frameworks, tools, and approaches, including Adaptive Leadership, Authentic Voice, Good Society Readings, Immunity to Change, Systems Thinking, and Polarities Management.

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 Fellowship has a 100% attendance requirement, and all selected Fellows must attend all meetings (seminars) and complete all assignments between seminars or face possible removal. We make exceptions for emergencies on a case-by-case basis.

Is internet connectivity a requirement to participate in the Fellowship?

Yes. The primary method of communication regarding logistics and other important information is email, online sessions are held using Zoom, and 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.

How does Acumen Academy design for an inclusive experience?

Acumen Academy is deeply committed to equality, equity, diversity and inclusion - we encourage applications from all social leaders, as long as they have the motivation to make it happen.

Please reach out to us at if you have specific needs or requirements related to the application or program. We will listen to the various needs and explore options to accommodate as much as possible.

COVID-19: Will immersive residentials be held in-person or online in 2023?

We continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation in Pakistan, and the program structure and timelines will be communicated closer to May 2023.

Given our history of delivering programs virtually across the world, we are confident that we will continue to find impactful ways to bring the Fellows together and drive learning, be it in-person or virtually.

Fellowship Costs


Which costs does the fellowship cover?

Acumen Academy Pakistan covers all Fellowship-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 fellowship, 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 (although this may be virtual due to COVID-19). 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 initiatives are completely independent of our investment activities. If you are interested in learning more about Acumen’s investment criteria, click here.

Application & Selection Process


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.

What is Acumen Academy assessing in the selection process?

The selection process is designed to understand the applicant’s track record, their capacity to lead and readiness for the program. Acumen selects Fellows based on: 1) a track record of driving change based on a deep understanding of the issue 2) a clear long-term vision to change the system they are working in 3) an ability to influence change in their current work, formally or informally 4) a readiness to undergo an intensive, year-long leadership journey.

We are focused on assessing the content of the application, and not the polish or smartness of written English. Each application will be reviewed separately by two different people in the Acumen community, who will be selected based on proximity to the applicants work.

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 us via

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:, @acumen, and

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 FAQs, please email us at

Watch Info Session Replay (2021)

HubSpot Video


Download Application Toolkit (PDF)