“I am determined and want to come back to my homeland and aspire to serve in the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN),” quoted Afsheen Jiwani, Campaign Director at the University Health Network in Toronto, Canada and winner of the Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Award Winner in the Community Impact category. This award is presented to her by the Women’s Executive Network (WXN). (WXN) a member-based organization, is North America's #1 and only organization that meaningfully propels and celebrates the advancement of professional women at all levels, in all sectors, and of all ages.

WXN praises Afsheen for being actively involved in her community as a member of the Advisory Board of Up With Women, and of the Association of Healthcare Philanthropy’s (AHP) Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging Taskforce, and a volunteer leader in the Ismaili community. Earlier in 2021, Afsheen had also received the AHP’s 40-under-40 Award for her efforts to shape the future of healthcare development. She is also a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE), showcasing her commitment to the fundraising profession.

Born and raised in Karachi, Pakistan, Afsheen Jiwani is a resilient and accomplished individual who represents the spirit of determination and perseverance. She comes from a humble background, having spent her childhood in Karachi’s Kharadar area, navigating her way through challenges with the unwavering support of her parents. Afsheen embarked on her educational journey at St. Peter’s High School, later transitioning to Habib Girls’ School for her matriculation.

Her pursuit of knowledge led her to the Aga Khan Higher Secondary School for intermediate studies in the commerce department, and she furthered her education with a 100% scholarship from the Aga Khan Education Board, enabling her to complete her BBA and a Masters in Marketing from the Institute of Business Management (IoBM).

Afsheen’s active participation in social activities, public speaking and ambitious dreams singled her out from an early age. She credits her days at the Girl Guides in Karimabad with these accomplishments, saying, “Girl Guides really shaped my personality. I used to participate in the activities enthusiastically and learnt to become a leader in challenging situations.”

Following her graduation, she joined the Aga Khan University (AKU) in the Resource Development Department, where she worked in the area of fundraising for four years to. This experience laid the foundation for her future endeavours, particularly when she moved to Canada in 2012.

“People have this thinking that the grass is greener on the other side,” she mentioned, “However, things were not easy for me when I came to a new country, with a new culture and no one to guide me,” she added. Nonetheless, with her aim high, she never gave up on herself and continued to struggle. Starting anew, she initially worked in call centres but soon realised that there are a lot of opportunities in the area of fundraising in Canada.

“When I used to get rejections and felt depleted, I spent time with my husband and daughter. They have always been my source of hope,” Afsheen articulated.

Her commitment to making a positive impact led her to enrol in a fundraising course at Ryerson University. Subsequently, she actively engaged in fundraising, provided counsel and championed diversity, inclusion and women’s rights, focusing on issues such as violence and equity. 

Seva (service) runs in her family. “The root of service comes from my mother, my community. When I was young, I saw her commute in a local bus from Karimabad to Kharadar (1.5 hours), and that is how I realized how important service is.”

Continuing the spirit of volunteerism, Afsheen is also active in serving the community. In Pakistan, she served at the Aga Khan Education Board and the Aga Khan Social Welfare Board. Now residing in Toronto, Canada, she proudly participates as a board member of ITREB, actively contributing to the community’s welfare, progressing professionally and in voluntary pursuits.

Reflecting on her journey, Afsheen cherishes the memories from her time at AKU, particularly a trip to Dubai. Crediting AKU for influencing her career choice, she said, “When I was at AKU, I went to Dubai for a fundraiser, where many foreigners were attending the event. I visualized myself in their role and promised myself that one day, I would come to Pakistan and contribute to my community.”

Afsheen’s story is that of unwavering determination, resilience and hard work despite of all the challenges, her accomplishments are a beacon of inspiration, especially for women, and she passionately advises the youth to work diligently and believe in the impossible.