Philanthropy: Shiza Shahid

This article is part of our Create & Cultivate 100 List created in collaboration with KEDS, you can view the full Philanthropy List Here

The world's umpire for impact. 

Shiza Shahid, co-founder of the Malala Fund and more recently founder of NOW Ventures, is driven to create a positive change on the world. While a student at Stanford University, Shiza watched a YouTube video of a young Malala Yousafzai, a female Pakistani education advocate. She reached out to Malala’s father to spearhead a week-long camp in Pakistan for Malala and her classmates, organizing 27 girls in Islamabad, her hometown. 

As a umpire for impact, after graduation in 2011, Shiza started her career as an analyst at McKinsey & Company in Dubai, where she combined her mission-driven approach with business acumen.

Upon hearing about the Taliban’s attempted assassination of Malala in 2012 for speaking out about girls’ rights to education, Shiza hopped on a plane and met the education activist in Birmingham, England, where the 15-year-old was hospitalized at the time. The two went on to found the Malala Fund where Shiza also served as CEO of the organization, which supports education innovators and activists around the world.

All of her efforts start, she says by "showing up and believing you can change things." 

She credits her husband and best friend as a major influence in her life and jokes that the best advice she’s ever heard comes from her trainer who, “tells me to work harder.” 

She’s done just that.

Shiza currently runs NOW Ventures, a seed stage mission-driven venture fund, dedicated to investing in startups whose founding teams propose transformative solutions for the world. Shiza explained her new role to TechCrunch as follows: “The hypothesis we aim to prove is that mission-driven companies are a better investment than purely profit-driven companies. We believe that they are creating more loyal customers and generally aim to solve large problems, rather than to create cute apps.” Last June the company raised its first fund as a 506c offering. 

Fear doesn’t play into her vocabulary. “You can only connect the dots looking back,” she says, explaining that she is propelled forward by both “a sense of gratitude and responsibility.” 

“You can only connect the dots looking back.”

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But the global activist's aim is “to become more impactful” in her work, and she has the confidence to do so, especially now that she’s “found my place in the world as a mission-driven entrepreneur and investor.” 

Through exercise, which she swears by, reading and mediation, Shiza has also “found a deeper level of self-awareness and connection” to herself. 

Believing that “connecting people is one of the most generous acts,” Shiza finds the time to bring women together in “intimate off-the-record dinner salons,” and won’t stop searching for ways to make a bigger impact until women everywhere are free from fear and persecution. 

She has her work cut out for her. But her time is now. Paraphrasing Steve Jobs, she says, “We’re all going to die, in the face of which we are already naked, so don’t let fear hold you back.”