East Asian +Acumen Retreat

East Asian +Acumen Retreat

Over the last Christmas break, five Asian +Acumen teams (Seoul+AcumenTokyo+AcumenOsaka+AcumenSingapore+Acumen, and HK+Acumen) gathered in Seoul for the first East Asian +Acumen retreat. We came together to celebrate a momentous year, during which five out of the six East Asian chapters were founded, to share the challenges we faced in building chapters in Asia and the opportunities we can capitalize on in our respective cities. Also during this time, Acumen fellows shared about their experiences in a way to empower +Acumen chapter leaders over a full day retreat.

Looking to Acumen’s manifesto revealed how we can bring Acumen’s values into each of our own communities, no matter where we are trying to make an impact. Poverty, in its essence, does not limit itself to a lack of wealth. Junko Tashiro, through her work in Japan, reminded us that we ought to restore the dignity of the unheard by being their voice-amplifier. In making Japan a more open society, she is tying Acumen’s manifesto to her current work and community. Through their fellowship experiences in Ghana, Nigeria, and India, I was reminded by Christina Tang, Chikako Fujita, and Suzuka Kobayakawa that raising leaders is much more empowering than solely focusing on results. Furthermore, seeking to grow and extend the leadership capacity will in turn dictate results.

In localizing the +Acumen model within Asia, we have had success in making progress despite facing challenges. It was inspiring to share about the initiatives we have been launching in our cities. Though the initiatives in each chapter have been different, they support the mission of changing the way the world tackles poverty by building dignity through investment in entrepreneurs, leaders, and ideas. Each of the founders founded their +Acumen chapter because of the shared conviction that restoring a person’s dignity is the first step to solving poverty, and it was a privilege to be able to come together over a common purpose. Sharing about the challenges was also very encouraging, as we were able to learn and grow from each other’s difficulties. Having started and built the HK+Acumen chapter with my team this year, we have also been challenged by the team’s competing priorities presented by demanding careers. It is important to remind ourselves of and instill the business discipline demanded of any for-profit enterprise – that is how we will learn to maximize the impact we make in our cities given the limited resources we have.

 

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After sharing stories and best practices on how to grow our chapters, I felt more equipped as a leader and assured that as part of the larger Acumen ecosystem, HK+Acumen would break new ground with the support from Acumen, Acumen fellows, and global chapters.

Finally, a special thanks to Seoul+Acumen for generously hosting us at IMPACT HUB Seoul, Tomoko for sharing her knowledge from Acumen and facilitating the full day retreat, and graduated Acumen fellows for taking personal time to be at Seoul with presenting Asian +Acumen chapters, reminding everyone what it means to be part of the larger Acumen ecosystem!

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Natalie Wong