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Inclusive Economy Leadership Program



May 2022

10 Weeks

Applications Closed

A program for social entrepreneurs, nonprofit leaders, corporate intrapreneurs and public sector leaders in Southeast Asia.

Develop your leadership capacity to tackle the deep-rooted systemic challenges of economic inequality in Southeast Asia

The Inclusive Economy Leadership Program (Southeast Asia) is a 10-week leadership accelerator designed to equip you with the character and competence to address the complex challenges of poverty and economic inequality. During these 10-weeks, you will take part in weekly virtual learning labs, virtual group discussions and work on individual assignments.


Building a more inclusive economy that serves the poor is risky work. It means disappointing those who benefit from the status quo, experimenting in areas most people ignore and failing more often than you succeed. Naturally, not everyone chooses to do this work.


Acumen has been changing the way the world tackles poverty for more than 20 years. Over that time we’ve gathered valuable insights that we’ve taught and field tested through our various leadership programs. We have synthesised and made these lessons available for leaders in Southeast Asia through this 10-week leadership accelerator.

This program facilitates deep introspection, cohort building, and an exploration of leadership concepts that are especially useful for those trying to tackle the complex problems of poverty and inequality.

You’ll learn how to see a problem more clearly, understand how to engage powerful stakeholders, explore your personal philosophy on what it takes to build a good society and more.

The experience is further enriched through a diverse cohort. Change will require leadership from all areas of our economy. You'll join leaders from the social enterprise, nonprofit, corporate and public sectors to explore what it takes to build a more inclusive economy for your community and all of Southeast Asia.

Identify your leadership gap

Diagnose your adaptive challenge, identify stakeholders and their priorities and learn how to move them towards your ideal.

Learn to navigate the grey

Manage the tension between your competing priorities and learn how to engage difficult stakeholders who benefit from the status quo.

Reflect on freedom, justice and equality

Study the work of great thinkers and question your assumptions and approach to building a more equitable economy.

Join A Lasting Community

Build meaningful relationships with cohort members that are based on shared values and a common purpose.


  • Runs over 10 weeks, fully virtual
  • Attend weekly virtual Learning Labs
  • Engage in weekly consultations with peers
  • Study curated readings that cultivate a richer understanding of your social change work
  • Learn frameworks for leading social change and for holding values in tension
  • Complete weekly assignments to practice your new learnings


Upon completing the 10-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 organisations or through referrals within the Acumen network


Participants come from all walks of life. They are building radical new solutions that ensure economic prosperity is shared by all. Solutions range across new business models that serve the poor, corporate initiatives to disrupt traditional industries, innovative public sector programs and nonprofit livelihood solutions for the poor.

Collectively, participants are creating a more inclusive economy in Southeast Asia.

Participants are typically on one of the following paths:

  • Social Entrepreneur. Scaling innovative business models that use market-based solutions to tackle poverty and inequality
  • Public Sector Leader. Leveraging the government machinery to create a more inclusive economy
  • Nonprofit Leader. Building solutions to ensure those most in need are equitably included in the economy
  • Corporate Intrapreneur. Driving initiatives within large corporations to create inclusive and sustainable corporations

To be eligible for this program, you should:

  • Currently live in one of the following SEA countries: Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, Singapore, Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, Timor-Leste or Brunei
  • Demonstrate a long term commitment to tackling issues related to poverty and economic inequality including more than 4 years of work
    experience in the sector
  • Be in a position of leadership where you work, meaning you have the capacity to influence change
  • Demonstrate self-awareness and the ability to challenge yourself to grow as a leader
  • Live in a place with telephone and internet coverage so that you can actively participate in an online learning environment
  • Have the ability to read and write texts of medium complexity in English and basic handling of social platforms (e.g. Whatsapp)
  • Note: There are no specific academic requirements. Some participants have no formal education, others have degrees from global institutions
  • Note: There is neither a minimum age requirement, nor a maximum age cut off


Eligibility Assessment

Take a quick eligibility assessment to know if this program is right for you.

Click here

"the humility to see the world as it is, the audacity to imagine the world as it could be and the determination to make it happen"

From the Acumen Manifesto


Our core curriculum is made up of three key components:

Adaptive Leadership

Based on the work of Ron Heifitz, Adaptive Leadership is a practical leadership framework that helps organizations and individuals adapt and thrive in challenging environments. The content supports your ability, both individually and collectively, to catalyze and embrace the gradual and meaningful process of creating change.

Managing Polarities

Developed by Barry Johnson, Polarity Management empowers you to embrace competing goals and navigate the tensions between them, a crucial skill in an increasingly interconnected world. 

Good Society Readings

The Good Society Readings explore the meaning of a just society and the moral and historical foundation of social change through a series of curated readings by thinkers such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Nelson Mandela. You’ll reflect on core human values, seek common ground, and cultivate a richer understanding of your social change work by situating it in a broader historical context.


You should expect to spend at least 7 hours per week dedicated to this program. The learning experience is fully online and includes weekly individual work, peer discussions, and facilitator-led full cohort synchronous sessions.

Individual Pre-Work - 2 hours / week (own time)

Learn at your own pace with tutorials featuring leadership frameworks and readings to help cultivate a richer understanding of social change work in a broader historical context.

Partner Discussions - 1 hour / week (virtual)

Participants will be strategically paired with other cohort members. Pairs will meet to go deeper into their readings, give feedback on assignments, and reflect on their leadership journey.

Learning Lab - 2.5 hours / week (virtual)

Join your cohort in a live interactive session on a specific facet of leadership conducted by a facilitator.

Post-work - 1.5 hour / week (own time)

After each Learning Lab, you will reflect on key takeaways and synthesize learnings based on specific practices of moral leadership.


Module 1: Who’s in This Journey with Me?

  • Examine your identities, values, and choices that have shaped your journeys till now.
  • Connect with peers and begin to build trust and togetherness for the journey ahead.

Module 2: How do we Move Beyond an ‘Either/Or’?

  • Diagnose and identify moments when values are in tension.
  • Learn to engage in difficult conversations and manage systems of values in tension using tools and frameworks.

Module 3: What is Leadership?

  • Understand the concept of "getting on the balcony" and how it relates to the exercise of adaptive leadership.
  • Bring your live challenge to the group.
  • Expand and apply your understanding of leadership, authority, and intervention.

Module 4: What’s the Actual Work?

  • Distinguish between technical and adaptive work when leading change.
  • Identify and examine your own leadership challenge.

Module 5: Are You Mobilizing the Right People Around the ‘Right’ Problem?

  • Understand why people support, resist, benefit, or lose when you lead adaptive change.
  • Define stakeholders and factions critical to your adaptive challenge.

Module 6: How Do We Put Humanity at the Center of Our Work?

  • Think deeply and ask critical questions about the ideas of humanity and universal dignity

Module 7: Our role in the system we seek to change

  • Examine how you are complicit in the system you seek to change

Module 8: What are the Values we Hold in Tension to Build a Just Society?

  • Deliberate on the nature of humanity and the systems needed for humans to flourish.

Module 9: Why is Understanding Identity Essential for Leadership Today?

  • Understand the role of identities in having conversations across lines of difference.

Module 10: So, Are We Ready to Lead?

  • Renew and recommit to your responsibility in a more building a just and inclusive world.

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly."

Dr. Martin Luther King
Part of the Good Society Reading

Applications Open

January 2022


May 2022

Program Ends

July 2022

The program really pushes oneself to ponder and question our role, our approach, why we decide, act and behave the way we do, and what we could do differently to truly grow as leaders.
Program Alumni
I really think this has been a life changing learning experience for me. I still can't believe I was chosen to participate, and I hope to stay connected moving forward.
Program Alumni
The design and facilitation are top-notch. And the content is useful and relevant, applicable directly to my work as a leader.
Program Alumni


What are the program dates?


The program runs from May until July 2022. Group virtual synchronous sessions are held every Thursday beginning 5 May until 7 July and there will be a closing session on 8 July.

How are participants selected?


We are looking for participants who:

(1) are eager to reflect on and grow their leadership capabilities

(2) are excited about learning with and from peers

(3) are working to build a more just, inclusive, sustainable world

We will review applications on a rolling basis and invite finalists for a 45-minute video interview.

From there, the final cohort will be announced and formed.

Is there tuition?


No. This program is offered for free thanks to the support of our partners at Acumen.

What are the time requirements?


You should expect to spend at least 7 hours per week. The learning experience is fully online and includes facilitator led, peer-to-peer, and self-guided synchronous and asynchronous sessions.