Twenty social entrepreneurs from across East Africa are set to join the Acumen East Africa Fellows Program in a partnership between KCB, Safaricom and Acumen.
The pool has been selected from the 50 shortlisted candidates who presented their ideas at a Selection Conference in Nairobi. The beneficiaries will now join the one-year leadership development program designed to connect and cultivate the next generation of social change agents with the audacity and skills to address the problems of poverty.
The program to which KCB Bank and Safaricom have committed Kshs 100 million (US $1 million) is meant to catalyze the development of the region’s bright minds and big thinkers dedicated to tackling the problems of poverty.
Acumen, the pioneer impact investing firm that runs the program, is an international non-profit venture which raises charitable donations to invest long-term capital in companies, leaders, and ideas that are changing the way the world tackles poverty.
This year, Acumen received over 550 applications to the East African Fellows Program and through a rigorous three-tiered process shortlisted 50 for Saturday’s final selection. The candidates had a chance to present their social change initiatives, excel in a group activity evaluation and defend their position in a personal interview.
East Africa Regional Director Duncan Onyango said: “We are committed to investing in extraordinary individuals from diverse backgrounds across East Africa; equipping them with knowledge and practical wisdom to solve real world problems and to work across lines of difference. I believe that Acumen fellows are the next greatest generation of leaders.”
The highly acclaimed leadership development program, now in its 6th year, equips emerging social leaders in East Africa with the skills, knowledge and moral imagination to drive social change in their communities. Last year, KCB and Safaricom jointly committed US $1 million to Acumen as part of a three-year partnership to connect and cultivate the next generation leaders who take a systems change approach to the world’s biggest problems and have the moral imagination to effect long term change.
“At KCB, we recognize that we are an integral part of the societies in which we operate and that our business decisions and practices impact on diverse stakeholders,” said KCB Group CEO and MD Joshua Oigara. “We are committed to see this program succeed because we are convinced that it fits into our policy recognizing that we can only be as great as the society around us. When poverty is tackled, entire communities are economically uplifted and our collective well-being is enhanced.”
Launched in 2012 with the support of KCB Foundation, Acumen’s East Africa Fellows Program is designed to build the next generation of social leaders with the audacity to transform society and create a better, more inclusive world.
Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore, an Acumen board member since 2015, says that the private sector must play an active role in helping to deliver the next level of economic development.
“In truth, Governments cannot effect meaningful change at scale in isolation,” said Collymore. “The private sector has no choice but to play a part, not because of the opportunity for profits, but simply because it is the right thing to do.”
The 20 Fellows selected will participate in five week-long seminars throughout the year, where they receive the tools, training and space to innovate new ideas, accelerate their impact, and build a strong network of social leaders from across their region and around the world.
Over the last 5 years, the program has attracted thousands of applicants from all over East Africa with diverse cultural, geographic and socioeconomic backgrounds and working across a variety of sectors. The program has to date trained 98 dedicated social change makers from Rwanda, Burundi, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya, creating a strong community of East Africans who are committed to standing with the poor and creating hope in a cynical world.