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Gender Equity and Advancement Accelerator

Refine and develop a profitable and scalable business model that advances gender equity


April 21, 2022

11 Weeks

The Problem

Why are we running this accelerator? 

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 considering gender equity across strategies, processes, and day-to-day work improves how we address the problems of poverty, including the disproportionate problems for women in poverty, and thereby magnifies our impact.

Gender inclusion in business isn’t just the ethical thing to do — it’s also good for the world’s economy and sustainability. And rather than add a gender-equity lens after scaling, we believe it’s much easier to build an inclusive company by addressing and prioritizing gender from the start. 

To support social entrepreneurs committed to leading the change in gender equity and advancement, our new accelerator will equip leaders with the moral leadership lessons, business skills, and learnings from our portfolio companies to confidently scale their enterprises and embed gender inclusive approaches into their models.

Learn How To

  • Refine and develop a profitable and scalable business model
  • Embed and expand gender equity into your business through market, workforce, and value-chain entry points
  • Develop hard-edged leadership skills — such as practicing courage, deep listening, and stepping outside the status quo — that are necessary for building better, inclusive, and sustainable business solutions
  • Sharpen your presentation skills and practice pitching to an audience of investors and entrepreneurs
  • Build a professional network and lifelong community of social entrepreneurs in East and West Africa who are committed to tackling injustice

How it Works

Over 11 weeks, two members of your leadership team will learn the essentials for building a scalable business model that achieves both profitability and impact. Working virtually alongside your close-knit cohort of entrepreneurial peers and Acumen experts, you’ll design your plan to embed gender equity as you scale your business. 

As a participant, you’ll have access to industry and impact-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, and then join weekly interactive Learning Labs alongside your cohort members to give and receive feedback and learn together. 

Throughout the journey, you’ll dive into Acumen’s Moral Leadership practices, like Listening to Voices Unheard and Partnering with Humility and Audacity. These skills are vital for any leader looking to reimagine what society and the workforce can look like and drive actionable change.

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 virtual 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 8 hours per week on the readings and assignments — most of this work can be done on your own schedule.

One or two participants 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 curriculum materials (readings, case studies, videos etc.).

Partnership logo

What's Included

  • Six Learning Labs alongside your cohort of entrepreneurs
  • Three 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

Refine Your Business Model

Determine the best next steps to reach financial sustainability.

Accelerate Your Social Impact

Change more lives, faster, by focusing on activities that work.

Gain Valuable Feedback

Tap into the expertise of peers—and Acumen—to solve problems in real-time.

Join A Lasting Community

Build meaningful relationships with a community of like-minded social innovators.

2022 Cohort


Module 1

Visions of Scale for Social Enterprise Business Models

  • Understand different, customizable models for scaling your social enterprise 
  • Develop a business model canvas that isolates key hypotheses for how your business model currently comes together
  • Define scenarios for how your social enterprise could successfully scale and map out your vision for growth and impact

Module 2

Gender equity and advancement as you scale

  • Build a deep understanding of both the moral and business case for embedding gender equity into your enterprise 
  • Learn  key concepts, identify entry points, and pinpoint ways to engage more women in your value chain, workforce, and as customers

Module 3

Customer Insights

  • Clearly define your core customer and value proposition
  • Design experiments to test your critical hypothesis
  • Conduct an experiment to better understand how women customers interact with your product or service

Module 4

Aligning a Pricing, Sales and Marketing Strategy to Your Value Proposition

  • Build a value proposition canvas using data from customer interviews and experiments
  • Develop pricing models aligned with your value proposition
  • Learn sales and marketing tactics and strategies to optimize your scale strategy 

Module 5

Operational Model: Team and Partnerships

  • Learn common operational models for social enterprises
  • Match your existing or desired talent with related skill sets and plan to expand your workforce in a gender equitable way

Module 6

Building Your Financial Story and Model

  • Identify your major revenue and cost assumptions 
  • Define your major financial milestones for next two years

Module 7

Pitching the Strategic Story of Your Business

  • Identify the right types of capital to finance your business as it scales
  • Practice pitching your business to stakeholders
  • Learn about the 2x challenge eligibility and how to attract investors who invest with a gendered lens
Today, we have a better understanding of our business and how to scale. We also have more confidence to do experiments and have been able to test our key assumptions.
John Nyagwencha, CEO, Aqua Clara Kenya
We had a great product and story but the path to scaling was a bit vague for me. This program has shown me the clear steps I need to take, and given me the tools to achieve them.
Azariah Mengistu, CEO, ENZI
I’ve learned about moral imagination and how to reimagine the world as it could be — better for the people I work with.
Sumeet Kaur, Spudnik Farms

Key Dates

Applications Open

January, 11th 2022

Program Starts

April 21st, 2022

Program Closes

June 30th, 2022

Who is Qualified to Apply?

  • Run a social enterprise (nonprofit or for-profit) based in East (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, South Sudan, Ethiopia) or West Africa (Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Liberia, the Gambia) 
  • Have a demonstrated track record of at least 12-18 months, some market traction, and are preparing to scale
  • Have a team equivalent to three or more full-time staff

    Have a commitment to serving women across three entry points, and evidence of action in at least one:
  1. Market (products and services) 
  2. Internal organization (workforce and policies) 
  3. Value chain (supply and distribution)


How to Qualify


How will participants be selected?

Applications will be reviewed after the program deadline. If you are selected for an interview, a member of the Acumen team will reach out to schedule a 40-minute video call with you on the Zoom platform.

What stage does my social enterprise have to be in order to participate?

This program is designed for enterprises with demonstrated market traction and a team equivalent to at least three full-time staff members.

Do I need to live in one of the focus countries to apply?

You need to be an entrepreneur running a business with primary operations in either Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Liberia, the Gambia. You do not need to be a citizen of these countries to apply.


When and Where


When will the sessions be held?

Most of the assignments can be completed online at your own pace before the submission date every week. Your team’s Lead Participants will be expected to participate live during the weekly 2-hour Learning Labs. The calls with Acumen can be scheduled at times that are mutually convenient for you and your advisor.

Where will the sessions be held?

This is an online program. The weekly Learning Labs will be hosted virtually on the Zoom platform. You should have a stable internet connection and the ability to participate in video calls.

What are the program dates?

The program runs from April 21, 2022 to June 30, 2022

About Acumen Academy

Acumen Academy is the world’s school for social change. Our mission is to unleash a new generation of social innovators and leaders with the character and competence to build a more just, inclusive and sustainable world. Blending the best of online and offline learning, we offer anyone, anywhere access to the practical tools, practices, resources and supportive community they need to achieve positive social change. The Acumen Academy community represents a new generation of social innovators and leaders committed to doing what’s right in a world that loves easy.

Learn more at www.acumenacademy.org.