A Leadership Program for Entrepreneurs in the Asia-Pacific Region in 2019

SUMMARY: Following the success of the 2019 Obama Foundation Leader program focused on Africa, the organization is tailoring their 2019 leadership development and civic engagement program specifically on emerging leaders in the Asia-Pacific region (but not South Asia.) Beyond residing in the applicable countries and demonstrating leadership strength, applicants must be between 24-40 years old, fluent in English, and available in the upcoming months for program participation. The deadline is approaching quickly (August 15th, 2019 at 6:00 pm Eastern Standard Time) and it is IMHER’s sense that many potential applicants doing MHM work may not know about this opportunity.

This is not a menstrual health or gender-specific program – it seems to be geared towards leadership in general, rather than any one form of it – but it seems reasonable to assume that leadership in the women’s health sector is likely to be a good fit for the mission of the Obama Foundation.

What is the history of the Obama Leaders Program?

The Obama Foundation says that it is guided by a core belief that “ordinary people can change history”. Their mission is to “inspire those people to take action, empower them to change their world for the better, and connect them so that they can achieve more together than they can alone”. This principle has inspired many of their other initiatives, such as the Girls Opportunity Alliance and the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance that provide support for grassroots initiatives.

The Obama Leaders Program seeks to bring leaders from across the world together to better participants’ leadership skills in their individual communities. In 2018, the Obama Foundation created the first edition of their leadership development program for 200 participants, all from Africa. This year’s program is focused on the Asia-Pacific region.

Who is eligible for this program?

The Obama Foundation is looking to fill this year’s program with a diverse cohort of leaders — broadly defined — from the Asia-Pacific region, regardless of race, ethnicity, socioeconomic, status, gender, sexuality or disability status.

  1. LEADERSHIP QUALIFICATIONS: In general, the Obama Leaders: Asia-Pacific, is attempting to identify emerging leaders in diverse sectors, such as government, civil society and the private sector, who have demonstrated a commitment to advancing the common good within their sphere of influence. They say that the best candidates will demonstrate a potential for impact and a clear commitment to integrity and values-based leadership.
  2. AGE: Applicants must be between 24-40 year sold.
  3. LANGUAGE: Applicants must be fluent in speaking, reading and writing English.
  4. COUNTRIES: Applicants must currently reside in qualifying countries and territories: Australia, Brunei, Cambodia, China, Cook Islands, Fiji, French Polynesia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Kiribati, Laos, Malaysia, Marshall Islands, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nauru, New Caledonia, Macao, New Zealand, Niue, North Korea (DPRK), Palau, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Pitcairn Islands, Samoa, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South Korea (ROK), Taiwan, Thailand, The Federated States of Micronesia, Timor-Leste, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Vietnam, Wake Island, Wallis and Futuna.
  5. Note that it is the ASIA-PACIFIC region but NOT SOUTH ASIA: The Obama program states that citizens and residents of South Asian countries are not eligible for this year’s program, but that they expect to offer leadership programs in the South Asian region in the future.

For more information on the program requirements, go here and here.

Credit: The Obama Foundation. This photo taken taken during the program development phase of their Asia-Pacific program.

What will take place throughout the program year?

Throughout the year, participants will take part in online and virtual activities and meetings, for around eight hours per month. The program consists of interactive webinars, accountability group meetings, peer review of action plans, and discussions around leadership. Leaders are also expected to participate in ongoing learning and peer mentoring

The program also consists of a four day in-person workshop, taking place on December 10th-14th in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. This section includes an intensive problem-solving workshop, leadership sessions, skill-building trainings, and speaker series.

The Obama Foundation covers economy class airfare, ground transportation in Malaysia, and shared dormitory accommodations during the workshop. Because they are not a grantmaking foundation, they will not offer financial aid for the workshop.

Is there an application deadline?

The deadline is Thursday, August 15th, 2019 at 6:00 PM EST (Eastern Standard Time.)

Other links:

  • To identify your fit for this program, take an eligibility quiz here.
  • For more information on this year’s program, click here and here.
  • To learn more about the Obama Foundation, click here
  • If applicants have further questions, they can email LeadersAsiaPacific@obama.org . However, they emphasize that, due to the high volume of applications for the program, they can only respond to technical issues prior to the program deadline, and recommend leaving ample time to work out any technical issues before that time.