A former cabinet minister of Social Affairs and Employment in his native country, The Netherlands, Ad Melkert rose to international prominence as Executive Director at the Board of the World Bank Group; UN-Under-Secretary-General and Associate Administrator of the UN Development Programme; and as UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Iraq. These international positions followed a sixteen years period in Dutch politics as Member of Parliament and cabinet minister, before becoming the leader of the Labour Party (PvdA) and a candidate for Prime Minister in the 2002 elections.
In recent years Ad Melkert has been operating worldwide as senior independent adviser, coach and facilitator working with governments, major international corporations and civil society organizations on various topics, with an emphasis on the global 2030 UN Sustainable Development Goals, Financing for Development and Climate Action Agendas; and on social dialogue in support of “inclusive growth” and job creation strategies.
He currently serves as an Extraordinary Councillor at the Council of State of The Netherlands, appointed by H.M. the King, with the task to advise on budgetary policies under the EU Stability and Growth Pact.
In addition, he holds various private sector Board and Supervisory Board positions, including as chairman of Development Gateway, a “data and digital for development” focused social enterprise in Washington DC.
Sir Al-Nashir Jamal is currently the President & Managing Partner of Alliances International Inc., providing advisory services in geopolitical issues, corporate diplomacy, and government relations. He is a strong advocate of building Public-Private-Community Partnerships.
After several years as President & CEO of parastatal regional economic development agencies in Manitoba, Yukon, BC and the Northwest Territories in Canada, Al-Nashir was appointed as the CEO of the Aga Khan Foundation in Pakistan. The AKDN collaborates with governments and other partners, and uses multi-inputs, to improve the quality of life in targeted areas in Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
Over a 30 year career working with Governments, Business and NGOs, Al-Nashir has been involved in unique initiatives - including the first combined land claim and self-government settlement, leading to the first ever community owned hydro-power project, and the creation of the new diamond mining industry in northern Canada. He has negotiated strategic joint ventures for local socio-economic enterprises, and facilitated resource benefits agreements with multiple stakeholders.
Al-Nashir has engaged with commercial banks, bilateral donors, DFIs, and multilateral agencies, including the United Nations, the World Bank, and the Asian Development Bank. The interactions have included complex cross-border trade, investment, and infrastructure projects in Canada, and Internationally.
He has a long history of serving on a number of Public Company, Private Corporation, and I-NGO Boards in various parts of the world.
An avid internationalist, over the years Al-Nashir has been active with the United Nations Association of Canada, the World Federation of UNAs, the Canadian Council for International Cooperation, The Royal Commonwealth Association in Canada, International House at the University of British Columbia, and the Global Trade Professionals Alliance.
In recognition of his life experiences and career achievements, and in particular his work in using “Diplomacy for Development”, Al-Nashir was Knighted by the King of Spain, with the award of Knight Commander of the Order of Civil Merit.
Dr. Kathleen Montgomery is the Acting Director and Director of Graduate Studies at the Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce at the University of Kentucky. The Patterson School is an 18 month professional Masters program offering students concentrations in diplomacy, security/intelligence, development and international commerce. An economist my training, her primary research and teaching fields are in international trade and development. An economist by training, Dr. Montgomery spent more than a decade leading USAID-funded trade projects as Chief of Party before coming to the Patterson School. These assignments include the East Africa Trade Hub in Nairobi, the Trade Facilitation Project in the West Bank, and the Southern Africa Trade Hub in Botswana. She also worked in other capacities in development and commerce-related projects in Islamabad, Amman, and Kabul. Currently, Dr. Montgomery is the lead investigator on the BBA/MBA Partnership with the University of Nangarhar in Jalalabad, Afghanistan as part of the USAID funded University Support and Workforce Development Program (USWDP) project implemented by FHI360. Montgomery received her B.A. from the College of William and Mary and an M.S. (Agricultural Economics) and Ph.D. (Economics) from the Pennsylvania State University.
Mr. Popal is a highly effective entrepreneur with significant banking and financial consulting experience. He has successfully positioned a variety of businesses globally. Presently, he serves as the CEO and Chairman of SDI Capital, an asset management and financial services company based in DIFC Dubai. From 2004-2006 Mr. Popal was a Vice President in Technologists Inc., a company based out of Rosslyn Virginia. He provided management oversight and financing on construction projects. At Technologists, Mr. Popal managed over $168 million in contracts. From 2008-2014, Mr. Popal served as the Afghan agent for TAYL Investors Group developing the Grand Hotel Kabul.
Mr. Popal also worked as a consultant for multiple U.S. and foreign companies demonstrating strong management, financial, and marketing skills. While working as a consultant for BOX International, Standard Chartered Bank, Shaw International, Fluor, and Freeport Phelps Dodge, he engaged in business development opportunities: drafted business plans and marketing strategies, negotiated new contracts, and managed business relationships. Mr. Popal was also the founding Chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in Afghanistan (AmCham), where he was elected as the Chairman for two consecutive terms.
Prior to consulting, Mr. Popal was an Actuary for Sumitomo Bank and an Account Executive for Continental Broker Dealer Corporation. As an Actuary, he analyzed the financial impact of risks for clients. At Continental, Mr. Popal developed and sold Structured Products to Hedge Funds and managed high net-worth individual’s portfolios.
Majdood Popal has a B.S. in Mathematics and an MBA in Finance from St. John’s University, New York. Mr. Popal was ranked first in his MBA class and graduated with honors in Mathematics. He is fluent in English, Dari (Farsi), Pashto, Spanish, and Hindi(Urdu).
Mohammed Mansoor Majid is one of the most successful businessman in Afghanistan. He is a visionary entrepreneur and has spent approx. sixteen years working his way up the ladder of success in the amazing and exciting journey. It is but natural that his stories are set against the backdrop of the stories of rebuilding Afghanistan. He established, invested and launched many different and highly successful business in Afghanistan which includes Majid Mall - the best shopping mall in Kabul and preferred destination in entertainment and retail business with many firsts in Afghanistan.
He is the founder and promoter of Rugby sports in Afghanistan. He is the only businessman who has been funding and promoting Rugby development projects in Afghanistan. He is the founder of the Afghanistan Rugby Foundation (ARF) and has been its President since 2011 and with his efforts Afghanistan Rugby Federation has got the associate membership of the Asia Rugby and he has also assisted the Federation to participate in many regional and international competition successfully.
He is also the Owner of many International brands in Afghanistan like- Clarks, Chicking, Turkish Hyper Market, Turkish Restaurant and Orange Electronics to name a few. He is an active and known business personalities in the elite Afghan business community in Dubai, UAE and has helped organize many cultural and business events for Afghan Community in Dubai.
Mohammed Mansoor is an enthusiastic, outgoing, energetic and an idea developer, creative and self-motivated person with strong communication and interpersonal skills and business development experience in Afghanistan. United Arab Emirates, Turkey and Europe. Most significantly, He has also been awarded a European Professional Doctorate (Ph. D) in Business Leadership and International Relations by Aldersgate College, Dublin, Ireland.
Sharam Gulzad an established business executive, entrepreneur, economist, SMEs expert, and philanthropist based on his home country, Afghanistan.
Having grown up in a business family of multiple generations with a rich corporate history that spans 100+ years, he knew from an early age that he would continue his family tradition and lead the company with his extraordinary talent, open-mindedness, and desire to inspire others through his work. Through his current CEO position in Gulzad Group, a group of companies specializing in the agricultural trading, construction and industrial services sector, Gulzad has managed to move a historic company with inherited traditions towards a more diversified portfolio, following a modern, innovative, and up-to-date approach.
Prior acquiring the position of Gulzad Group’s CEO, Sharam Gulzad had pursued a degree in Economics in Germany and worked on a series of positions that allowed him to acquire knowledge on the business dynamics of start-ups and SME’s, within an international business context. During his early times in Germany, Gulzad had managed to overcome various business challenges and join an import & exports company with Gulzad Group, while being in charge of European operations.
In addition to his corporate presence and activity, Gulzad has also been an active board member in several Afghan charitable organisations and was the founder of “Afghanistan Youth TV”, a 2017 formed television channel project, aimed at empowering the youth of Afghanistan and inspiring them to thrive within a challenging national environment. This project and many others were initiated by Gulzad Foundation, which was created by Gulzad Group as means for the company to fulfil their Corporate Social Responsibilities and serve the Afghan community in numerous ways.
Sharam Gulzad envisions a bright future where people can grow and thrive without national restrictions and discriminations and plans to do so via the fulfilment of several charitable causes.
Ms. Katrin Fakiri is an international development professional with leadership experience focusing on financial inclusion, women’s empowerment, and corporate governance. She has over 15 years of experience working in United States and Afghanistan with assignments in Africa. Ms. Fakiri is the founder of a grassroots microfinance institution for women in Afghanistan and served as the Managing Director for the Microfinance Investment Support Facility for Afghanistan (MISFA) from 2008-2013. Ms. Fakiri’s background includes orchestrating the strengthening of the Afghanistan development finance sector; developing strong governance framework for numerous organizations and improving operational effectiveness by conducting organizational and programmatic evaluations.
Ms. Fakiri is the founder of IDEA Consulting in Afghanistan and currently based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. She also serves on the Supreme Council of Da Afghanistan Bank and Harakat. Ms. Fakiri has a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Masters in Science in Public Policy and Management from University of London, SOAS in progress.