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The Inclusive Economy Leadership Program



March 2023

11 Weeks

Applications Closed - Sign Up to Learn More

Join a transformative leadership development program designed for social impact leaders tackling the complex challenges of poverty and inequality 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 in Southeast Asia is a 11-week leadership accelerator designed to equip you with the character and competence to address the complex challenges of poverty and economic inequality. During these 11-weeks, you will have the opportunity to take part in weekly virtual learning labs, virtual group discussions, and work assignments that relate directly to the problems and challenges you’re solving.


Acumen has been changing the way the world tackles poverty for more than 20 years. Over that time we’ve gathered valuable insights and skills that we’ve taught and shared through our leadership programs around the world. We have synthesized our top lessons for designing inclusive systems, and are excited to make these lessons available specifically for leaders in Southeast Asia.

This program facilitates deep introspection around your leadership purpose and journey, cohort building with like-minded leaders across the region, 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 and just 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.


  • Fully virtual 11 week program
  • Weekly virtual Learning Labs
  • Weekly consultations with peers
  • Curated readings that cultivate a richer understanding of your social change work
  • Frameworks for leading social change and for holding values in tension
  • Weekly assignments to put your new learnings into practice


  • Understand your role as a social innovator by your identities, values, and choices that have shaped your journey until now and cultivate a deeper understanding of yourself and your work in a broader context
  • Experience Acumen’s flagship leadership training embedded in our multi-national Fellowship program
  • Improve your leadership capacity to innovate and drive change within your organization by practicing essential adaptive leadership skills
  • Learn diagnostic and decision-making methodologies to bridge opposing views and find new opportunities in opposing tensions
  • Bring examples from your work into the program to guide your learning — then take new learnings from the program back to your community to guide your work and increase your impact
  • Join a diverse cohort and connect with like-minded social leaders to drive social change across the SEA Region.
  • Exclusive access to The Foundry network: 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

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.


Upon completing the 11-week program, participants are admitted to The Foundry.

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 and 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.

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, Vietnam, Philippines, 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 5 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)


Applications Close

January 6th, 2023


February 2023

Virtual Leadership Program

March - June 2023


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 8 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 - 2 hours / 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 the Work of Leadership?

  • Understand the concept of "getting on the balcony" and how it relates to the exercise of adaptive leadership
  • Distinguish between technical and adaptive work when leading change
  • Identify and examine your own leadership challenge

Module 4: How Do We Mobilize People Around An Adaptive Challenge?

  • Understand why people support, resist, benefit, or lose when you lead adaptive change
  • Define stakeholders and factions critical to your adaptive challenge.
  • Understand how discomfort can be a proxy for progress towards change

Module 5: What is Our Leadership Choice?

  • Expand and apply your understanding of leadership and authority
  • Define action steps to make progress on your leadership challenge with the support of your peers

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 the role that you play in the system you seek to change

Module 8: Why is Understanding Identity Essential for Leadership Today?

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

Module 9: 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 10: So, Are You Ready to Lead?

  • Re-ground in your purpose as a leader
  • Imagine what our system could look like if we renew our sense of responsibility to go beyond ourselves

Module 11: Celebrating Our Journey Together

  • Reflect on and celebrate your Accelerator experience
  • Learn about next steps and what being a member of the Foundry means
  • As a cohort, decide how you intend to continue your journeys together as Foundry members
Personally, I've uncovered—or more accurately, "re-uncovered" —my why and how my identity plays a role in my leadership and my goals. It's given me a renewed sense of purpose.
Adrian Immanuel Bonifacio ARK - Advancement for Rural Kids
As much as this course was about learning new leadership capabilities that I didn't know of, it was also just as useful in learning about the strengths in the ones that I already have.
Toan Dang UNESCO Bangkok
Finding a great group of like-minded people and sharing a common language on social impact helps to provide a trusted environment and a great resource that I feel comfortable to approach for my leadership
Miranda Phua Zigway


What are the program dates?


The program runs from March until mid-June 2023. Learning Lab sessions are held every Thursday beginning March 30 until June 15, 2023.

My application last year was not successful, can I re-apply for the program this year?


Yes, you are welcome to re-apply for the program this year. We suggest you focus on including what you have achieved since you previously submitted an application. 

I just submitted an application. What happens next?


All applicants should receive an automated confirmation message upon submission of the application. The application review process will take a couple of months. The Accelerator Team will contact all applicants regarding their status by email, you should hear whether you have been selected for the next stage of applications by early February.

What happens after the program?


Following the program, you’ll join an alumni community of over 1000 social innovators around the world. We call the Acumen alumni community ‘The Foundry,’  where our aim is to accompany builders from around the world by connecting them with the resources and relationships to amplify their work in architecting a just, inclusive, and sustainable world.

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.

What level of English do I need?


All sessions, assignments, and communications are conducted in English. An intermediate proficiency in English is a requirement to ensure you are able to give and get the most from this experience. That involves being able to communicate verbally, understand presentations, and read and write texts of medium complexity in English.

What if I don’t have a stable internet connection where I live?


Since the program is fully virtual, access to reliable internet coverage is fundamental to engage in the weekly online sessions, complete assignments in between the sessions, and connect with your peers. If this is a limitation to your full participation, there may be limited funds to cover costs of accessing a stable internet connection provided on a case-by-case basis.

Is there tuition?


There are no required costs to selected participants.

What are the academic qualifications for the Leadership Accelerator?


There are no specific academic requirements. Some participants have no formal education, others have degrees from global institutions.



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.