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Malaysia’s first fellowship of social innovators

Focus Malaysia 05 Jul 2019

Acumen Academy Malaysia has launched the Acumen Fellows Programme - an intensive leadership development programme for individuals building solutions to tackle our country’s biggest social needs.

As Malaysia experiences a renewed sense of civic possibility, moral leadership is needed to harness the strength and dynamics of our diversity that is fundamental to the development and harmony of the country. There can be no fully developed Malaysia until we finally overcome the many challenges confronting us now. To ignore this would mean allowing larger divides to grow in a society that is meant to hold each other up, not push each other down.

“Acumen is building a pipeline of leaders who understand what it takes to create change in our complex, interconnected world. We are looking for people with an entrepreneurial attitude, mindset and approach. We hope to empower these changemakers from all layers of our society to be the drivers of transformation,” said Oga Chan, Programme Lead of Acumen Academy Malaysia.

Every year, 20 Fellows are selected to be a part of this fully sponsored programme. This programme is unlike any other because of its unique structure that is designed to connect and cultivate a pipeline of local social innovators who are committed to tackling injustice and poverty in our communities. These Fellows remain in their jobs and come together for five seminars, each lasting 6 days, that will take place across the span of a year.

We imagine a Malaysia that is united in its effort to address our biggest needs by doing what is right, not what is easy. To achieve this, Acumen Academy Malaysia is looking for fellows from diverse background and demographics who are invested in long term social impact here through the work that they do. Fellows could come from non-profit, for profit or public sector backgrounds.

"It's about all of us, and the kind of world that we, together, want to live in and share. Each of us can work to change a small portion of events. And it's in the total of all those acts that the history of this generation will be written," Jacqueline Novogratz, CEO and Founder of Acumen.

Individuals that participate in this programme will be introduced to powerful leadership frameworks, tools, mindsets and approaches - anchored around the focus areas of Authentic Voice, Adaptive Leadership, Good Society Readings, Managing Polarities and Systems Thinking. The learning happens when Fellows are together in session over the course of a year through in-person discourse, reflections and real-world application. In the long years after they first come together, they continue to grow as leaders and create impact as a movement with shared values, a common commitment and accountability.

“Problems of inequity affect people on a daily basis, and has detrimental effects on the larger society - today, tomorrow and in the future. Hence, we need a programme that cultivates leaders with moral imagination now. This is a great time to launch Acumen Academy Malaysia. We know Malaysia is ready because we have seen a rise in individuals partaking in social change,” added Oga.

Starting in 2020, the Acumen Fellows Programme will bring together exceptional leaders from across Malaysia, who dare to embrace the difficult journey of social change. Over the course of a year, the Fellows will come together to learn with and from each other. As a deeply bonded cohort, they will engage with a curriculum that is based on practical skills and character, geared towards action and grounded in the value of moral leadership. After they finish the first year of the Fellowship, the Fellows join the global community of more than 500 Fellows. Acumen Fellows Programme Malaysia is currently fully sponsored and incubated by YTL Foundation.

Applications for the Acumen Fellows Programme opens on 8 July 2019. Find out more at

Register interest for the fellowship here:


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YTL Foundation was founded in 1997 on the belief that education is the basis on which every society progresses. By improving education, empowering future generations and building tomorrow’s leaders, YTL Foundation aims to empower individuals and communities to be catalysts of change.

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