Acumen Gender Equity and Advancement Accelerator Program

The Problem

Acumen’s vision is of a world based on dignity, where every human being has an opportunity to thrive. We are seeking a cohort of entrepreneurs who, like us, believe that integrating gender equity across strategies, processes, and day-to-day work improves how we address the problems of poverty.

Gender inclusion in business isn’t just the ethical thing to do — it’s also good for the world’s economy and sustainability. Rather than add a gender-equity lens after scaling, we believe it’s easier and more efficient when building an inclusive company to address and prioritize gender from the start. 

To support social entrepreneurs committed to leading the change in gender inclusion, our accelerator will equip leaders with the moral leadership lessons, business skills, and learnings from our successful portfolio companies to continue scaling their enterprises in a gender inclusive way.

Learn How To

  • Develop hard-edged leadership skills necessary for building an inclusive and sustainable business solution. These include (but are not limited to): practicing courage, deep listening, polarity management, and stepping outside the status quo 
  • Refine and develop a profitable and scalable business model tackling poverty at its core
  • Embed and expand gender inclusion into your business through market, workforce, and value-chain entry points
  • Sharpen your presentation skills and practice pitching to an audience
  • Join a lifelong global community of social entrepreneurs who are committed to tackling injustice and accompanying each other through their leadership and entrepreneurial journeys

How it Works

During this 12-week program, you will learn the essentials for building a scalable business model that achieves both profitability and impact. Working alongside your close-knit cohort of entrepreneurial peers and Acumen experts, you’ll develop your leadership and business skills as you design your plan to embed gender equity as you scale. 

As a participant, you’ll gain access to industry-specific case studies, video tutorials and practical readings, and receive invaluable one-on-one support and guidance from our team. Each week, you’ll complete assignments designed to help you think critically about your business model and introduce you to gender-inclusive best practices. During the leadership sessions, you’ll be challenged to redefine success and develop the moral imagination to create a society centered on dignity — then employ your new leadership and business skills to make it a reality.

You’ll also gain access to tools and teachings from Value for Women, including a training on the entry points, policies, and practices that will help you work towards becoming a gender equitable business. 

The program will culminate with a closing gathering, including pitch practice and a celebration for all the hard work, lessons learned, and new relationships you’ll take with you as you scale your business in a gender-inclusive way.

Time Commitment and Course Access

You should expect to spend at least 5 hours per week on the readings and assignments. Most of this work can be done on your own schedule.

One participant from the leadership team of your enterprise (‘Lead Participants’) will be required to take part in the Learning Labs every week. Up to 10 people from your enterprise may receive access to the online curriculum materials (readings, case studies, videos etc.)

What’s Included

  • Facilitated virtual Learning Labs for peer learning and discussion
  • Leadership lessons such as Listening to Voices Unheard and Partnering with Humility and Audacity
  • One-on-one consultation calls with Acumen’s team
  • Video tutorials on customer discovery, sales and marketing, financial modeling, pitching, and more
  • Unconscious bias training, workshops, and self-assessment strategies for embedding gender inclusivity into your scaling plan
  • Case studies from social enterprises that have successfully scaled and contributed to gender equity and advancement


Upon completing the 12-week program, participants are admitted to The Foundry, an invite-only community designed to accompany entrepreneurs and leaders from around the world by connecting them with the social capital (resources and relationships) to amplify their work in building a just, inclusive, and sustainable world.

Foundry members have exclusive access to:

  • Events to learn and connect with fellow foundry members
  • Professional development opportunities that may include pro-bono consulting services and professional leadership coaching
  • Experts within the Acumen Ecosystem for mentorship or advisory sessions
  • Referrals to affiliated leadership programs and platforms
  • Access to funding, grants offered ad hoc by other organizations, or referrals within the Acumen network

Key Dates

Applications Open

February 21, 2023

Applications Close

April 4, 2023


June 13th – September 1st, 2023

Who is Qualified to Apply?

Please note: These eligibility criteria are meant to be guiding. If you don’t meet every requirement, we still encourage you to apply! If you have any questions, please email us at

This accelerator is open to social entrepreneurs who:

  • Run a social enterprise (nonprofit or for-profit) based in East Africa (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, South Sudan, Ethiopia) or West Africa (Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Liberia, the Gambia) who are working to solve problems of poverty and dignity
  • Are dedicated to investing in their personal and business growth
  • Are deeply committed to the work of tackling poverty and injustice and are interested in being part of a global community bound by values 
  • Have an enterprise that has been operational for 18 months or more (please note: if this is your second or third venture, this requirement is flexible. Be sure to include this in your application.) 
  • Have a team of three or more full-time staff
  • Have a commitment to serving women across three entry points, and evidence of action in at least one:
    • Market (products and services)
    • Internal organization (workforce and policies)
    • Value chain (supply and distribut

Apply Now

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