By Acumen on February 15, 2015

Acumen is proud to announce the selection of our third cohort of Pakistan Fellows. After a competitive application process, we’ve chosen a diverse group of 20 leaders working in provinces across the country. This year’s Fellows are fighting poverty and changing lives across Pakistan through unique initiatives that range from advocating for vulnerable prisoners’ rights, to creating solutions to address low-quality education, to developing branchless banking channels for low-income customers, and more. Read more about each Fellow and their inspiring work below.

ShahzadShahzad Akbar

Shahzad is the founder of Shades Pakistan, a student-run organization that provides a leadership platform to students in underprivileged areas of interior Sindh. The organization is currently incorporated within the RETO Foundation, a nonprofit Shahzad co-founded that aims to make opportunities visible in the rural areas through education. Shahzad is working as an Assistant Manager at the DFID project Education Fund for Sindh. He was a National Outreach Scholar from Tando Jam at the Lahore University of Management Sciences with a major in finance and accounting.

ShamimShamim Akhtar

Shamim works for the Thardeep Rural Development Program (TRDP). The organization empowers rural communities in Tharparkar, Umerkot, Dadu and Jamshoro districts of Sindh to secure their rights by developing programs that give them control over their resources and foster sustainable development. At TRDP, Shamim helps rural women generate income through skills-based training and access to microcredit. She is currently pursuing a Master of Philosophy in Development Studies from Sindh University.

KamranMohammad Kamran Awan

Kamran left a promising career in the corporate banking sector to join Soon Valley Development Program (SVDP) in Khushab. SVDP promotes community development through grant-based interventions and microfinance programs focused on sectors such as agriculture, livestock and renewable energy. Kamran holds a master’s degree in business education and economics from the University of the Punjab and a diploma in banking and finance from the Institute of Bankers Pakistan.

TabindaTabinda Baig

Tabinda works for the Network of Organizations Working for People with Disabilities (NOWPDP), a nonprofit that provides a common platform for all disability organizations in Pakistan. She is the Project Manager of HeARTwork, an NOWPDP initiative that empowers people with disabilities through the development of craftsmanship skills and craft promotion. Since 2012, HeARTwork has trained 174 students in paper-making, patchwork, textile design and screen-printing. Tabinda resides in Karachi and has a Bachelor of Business Administration from SZABIST.

SalmaSalma Chaudhry

Salma works as the Director of Operations and Human Resources at Rabtt, which engages with students from public and low-cost private schools to improve their critical thinking, creativity, confidence and empathy skills. The idea behind the organization is to connect with students at a human level; Rabtt means “the connection.” At Rabtt, Salma implements the summer camps and follow-up workshops, and manages the Rabtt Fellowship Program. She holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from LUMS.

UsmanSyed Usman Hamdani

Usman works as Assistant Director and Associate Research Fellow at the Human Development Research Foundation’s FaNs for Kids Project, a family network designed to improve outcomes in children with chronic brain disorders. The project uses an innovative model of service delivery that empowers mothers in remote villages in Pakistan through eHealth- and mHealth-assisted training and supervision. Based in Islamabad, he is also pursuing his Ph.D from the University of Liverpool.

ShafqatShafqat Iqbal

Shafqat has been Managing Director at Bright Vision in Haripur for the past 12 years. He is currently working on a technology-based, student-centered information and communications project, which uses digital tools to provide low-cost education and train parents and teachers as active partners in the education process. Shafqat is also involved in the Private Education Network and Rural Development Project, is a 2010 LEAD Fellow and is pursuing a Master of Philosophy in Education from Hazara University.

ShoaibShoaib Iqbal

Shoaib is the founder and director of The Little Art, a nonprofit based in Lahore that uses art to cultivate positive social values in children and young adults through innovative learning opportunities. Shoaib also founded the Lahore International Children’s Film Festival, which is held annually in various cities across the country. He is an Asia21 Fellow and has a post-graduate degree from DeVos Institute of Arts Management and a diploma in international development from East Side Institute NY.

FaiqaFaiqa Naseem

Faiqa works in the Agricultural Credit and Microfinance Department at the State Bank of Pakistan in Karachi. As a policy analyst, she develops national policies and initiatives to increase access to banking services for the financially excluded, low-income masses of Pakistan. Currently, she is focused on developing new channels for branchless banking such as mobile wallets for financial inclusion. Faiqa holds a Master of Business Administration in Banking and Finance from Lahore School of Economics.


habibHabib Ur Rahman

Habib works at Adam Smith International (DFID) which, through the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Education Support Program, provides technical assistance to the province’s government to support the delivery of its primary and secondary education programs. Habib is involved in the Gender and Community Development component, which trains parent-teacher councils to develop school plans to increase enrollment and education quality. Habib belongs to Kurram Agency and holds master’s degrees in Pakistan studies and political science from the University of Peshawar.

ZaidSyed Zaid Bin Rashid

Due to his deep interest in social impact, Zaid left his role in the sales division of Engro to pursue his current position at the Engro Foundation. The focus of the Engro Foundation is to make the value chains of Engro, an energy and agri-input company, more inclusive through projects that focus on capacity building and skills development of local communities, suppliers, service-providers and consumers. At Engro Foundation, Zaid is responsible for developing new projects, fundraising and managing the foundation’s existing portfolio of investments. He resides in Karachi and is pursuing an Executive MBA at IBA.

SamiaSamia Razaq Khan

Samia jointly heads the Innovations for Poverty Alleviation Lab at the Information Technology University in Lahore. At the Lab, Samia focuses on creating medical technologies to improve mother and child health in underserved communities. She was honored with the ‘best paper’ award at the Computer Human Interaction conference for her work on speech interfaces for low-literate users. She holds a master’s degree in computer science from LUMS.

MairaMaira Riaz

Maira is the Project Lead at the Center for Economic Research in Pakistan for The Education Support Services and Education Financing Intervention. The project provides and tests solutions for improving the quality of education in low-fee private schools. Maira is responsible for assisting in the design and implementation of the project in different areas in Punjab. A resident of Lahore, she is also a Fulbright Scholar from Columbia University with a master’s degree in public administration.

SabirMuhammad Sabir

After growing up in a slum in Lahore where he struggled to educate himself, Sabir founded Slumabad, which empowers slum dwellers through education, healthcare services and employment opportunities. He is a 2012 Fellow of the Atlantic Council’s Emerging Leaders of Pakistan, one of the Swedish Institute’s 2013 Young Connectors of the Future Programme and also a 2013 DO School Fellow. Sabir holds a degree in management accountancy from CIMA.

Asad Ali ShahAsad Ali Shah

As someone living with a polio-induced illness, Asad has a deep level of empathy and commitment to social work. This motivation led him to his position at Save The Children Quetta Program Office, where he conducts monitoring and evaluation for projects and ensures accountability across the organization’s work. The projects include providing food, security and livelihood, education, child protection and technical vocational trainings to Afghan refugees. Hailing from Quetta, he recently graduated from the University of Baluchistan with a master’s degree in international relations.



ShahabShahab Siddiqi

Shahab works at Justice Project Pakistan, an organization that provides pro-bono legal and investigative services to vulnerable prisoners in the Pakistani justice system, particularly those who face the death penalty, have mental illness or are the victims of police torture and the “War on Terror.” At the organization, Shahab heads the Communications team, which oversees outreach, public relations and advocacy activities. He is pursuing a Master of Business Administration in Supply Chain Management at Iqra University in Islamabad.

Thank you to our corporate and foundation partners for their generous support of the Pakistan Fellows Program:

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