The Western Union Foundation Fellowship is a venture and leadership accelerator program for entrepreneurs and community leaders from and working with highly marginalized, refugee, and forcibly displaced communities around the globe. This virtual and global program is designed to equip these next-generation entrepreneurs and leaders with the skills and experience to increase access to economic opportunity, build valuable networks and resources, and transform their communities.

This is a fully-funded program thanks to the support of the Western Union Foundation.

Dates & Details

  • Dates: October 2nd, 2023 to February 15th, 2024 (16-weeks of programming with a 2-week break in December)
  • Format: Weekly virtual workshops with localized gatherings and events when possible (6-8 hours per week per week time commitment)
  • Immersive & Orientation: 2-week virtual Immersive starting October 2nd, 2023 (20–25 hours per week time commitment)
  • Workshops & Training: Modules include Foundations, Data & Metrics, Go-To-Market, Funding, Team Management, and Pitch
  • Impact Series: The world’s foremost leaders, entrepreneurs, and practitioners are invited to our programs to share their entrepreneurial journey and experience as well as mentor the Watson Institute and Fellows.
  • Basecamp: 2+ day workshops designed to Fellows’ communities to ideate solutions, design business models, and compellingly communicate their businesses and organizations to an external audience.
  • Summit: Culminating community event where Fellows pitch to local leaders, funders, and entrepreneurs (February 13, 2024)
  • Seed Funding: $45,000 in seed funding will be distributed among select Western Union Foundation Fellows based on progress and impact throughout the Fellowship
  • Final Deadline: August 18th, 2023


  • Who You Are: You are an entrepreneur or community leader from and working with highly marginalized, refugee, and forcibly displaced communities around the globe.
  • What You Do: You are leading an early-stage social impact venture or community initiative with a proven track record of impact, entrepreneurship, and leadership in their community. We define early-stage ventures as those that have a working prototype/ MVP product or service with active customers or beneficiaries and demonstrated impact and revenue. Ideally, you are exploring your product-market fit.
  • Where You Create Impact: Applicants from or are working in the following countries will be given priority: Argentina, Bangladesh, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, India, Japan, Lithuania, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Uganda, United Kingdom,United States
  • What You Are Looking For: You are looking for expert-led entrepreneurial training, access to funding opportunities, and a vast network of mentorship to accelerate your leadership skills and venture impact.
  • What You Will Accomplish: With the support of the Watson Institute team, you will gain a roadmap of how to grow and scale your work and impact. In addition, you will create impact through the facilitation of an impact workshop and training (called a Basecamp)in your community and for your stakeholders. You will receive a stipend, playbook, and team support to make this happen.

Application Process

1. Applications Submitted: Complete the online application: The online application contains 4 short essay questions and should take about 45 minutes to complete. The final deadline to submit your application is August 18th, 2023.

2. First Round Review: Our admissions team will review applications on a rolling basis starting July 7th, 2023. We review applications in two batches on a rolling basis and encourage you to submit your application early. Applications received prior to July 28th will be reviewed by August 14th. Applications received after July 28th will be reviewed by September 7th.

3. Interview: Qualified applicants will be invited to a 20-minute Zoom interview. Interviews will begin July 10th, 2023.

4. Admissions Committee Review: The strongest applicant profiles will be shared with our external admissions committee for final review.

5. Acceptances Announced: The admissions team will begin sending out final acceptances and fellowship awards in mid August. Applications received prior to July 28th will receive their final admissions decision by August 14th. Applications received after July 28th will receive their final admissions decisions by September 7th.

6. Fellows Confirm & Enroll: The last step to finalize enrollment is to review and sign Watson’s Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).

Start Your Application

Program Elements

The Western Union Foundation Fellowship provides award-winning training, committed mentorship, and a powerful community of peers to equip Fellows with the tools and knowledge they need to support their venture’s continued development and impact.

Venture Acceleration & Leadership Training

Some of the practical entrepreneurial & leadership centric workshops include:

  • Team Management for Impactful Organizations
  • Data & Metrics
  • Marketing & Personal Branding
  • Impact Focused Sales

Community & Network Building

A diverse cohort of entrepreneurs, small business owners, and nonprofit founders will form partnerships, collaborations, and further their growth and impact during and after the program. Community building activities include:

  • Engagement with Watson Institute alumni
  • Self-organized Fellow meet-ups
  • Basecamp training and events

Mentorship & Collaboration

Fellows are provided with multiple mentorship opportunities from business leaders, venture capitalists, and enterprise executives. Mentorship engagements include:

  • Preceptor Advisory Board
  • Impact Speaker Series
  • Mentor Bonanza


Grow your leadership skills, build local partnerships, and expand your impact by facilitating a Watson Institute Basecamp in your community.

Basecamps are 12 + hours of intensive workshops designed to help rising entrepreneurs from each of the Western Union Foundation Fellows’ communities to ideate solutions, design business models, and compellingly communicate their businesses and organizations to an external audience. As a key deliverable of the Western Union Foundation Fellowship, all Fellows will facilitate a Basecamp event during their time in the program.

The Watson Institute team will facilitate training workshops, share the Watson Institute Basecamp curriculum and planning materials, and provide a stipend to help organize and facilitate this event. Fellows are empowered through their training to tailor the Basecamp structure and outcomes to their desired participant community.

Learn More

 Online application

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