Two Facebook group creators from Pakistan — Kanwal Ahmed of Soul Sisters Pakistan and Nadia Patel Gangjee of Sheops — have been selected as fellows for Facebook's first Community Leadership Program.
Kanwal and Nadia are two of 115 community leaders selected from a pool of over 6000 applicants from around the world for this program, which aims to empower leaders who are building communities around the world.
The selected participants will be trained and funded by Facebook (each will receive up to $50,000 to be used for their community initiative) to further their vision for their respective groups.
The program has three main components: an educational curriculum designed around leadership development, strategic community engagement and technical skills, financial support for offline community building activities and help and guidance from community building experts, Facebook leaders and other participants.
In case you're wondering who these women are (even though they need no introduction!), here's what they've done: Kanwal Ahmed started Soul Sisters Pakistan, an online safe space for Pakistani women to share their issues, voice their stories and seek support; women can network as well as find legal, financial and psychological help.
"They saw something special in Soul Sisters Pakistan. They recognised my relentless drive to empower women with THEIR voice. They thought my vision for my community was worth investing in. They wanted me to be part of their program with a hundred brilliant leaders and minds from around the world. I am humbled. Honoured. And absolutely drenched in gratitude," wrote Kanwal on Facebook.
Nadia Patel Gangjee is the founder of Sheops, Pakistan’s first online marketplace for women, providing home-based women, female entrepreneurs and women-oriented businesses a safe platform to start and scale their businesses.
"My mission is to economically empower women and to increase digital and financial inclusion of females, enabling them to contribute more to the economy. As I worked tirelessly for the last three years towards this mission - through hard work, sweat and tears - resilience and hope are two things I have held on to, as it’s not easy financing and running a start-up with a social cause in Pakistan," shared Nadia.
"The big news came in the form of an email at 6 AM on my birthday that I was selected as a fellow for the Facebook Community Leadership Program. Humbled and honoured beyond words for this recognition of my efforts for empowering women and yet another opportunity to make Pakistan proud."
Other fellows from the region include India's Tamanna Dhamija whose Baby Destination is a popular forum among mothers for exchanging home remedies and Chetana Misra whose MompreneursIndia is a networking platform for women entrepreneurs. From Bangladesh, Razib Ahmed has been selected for Search English, a group where members help each other become more fluent in English.
Kanwal and Nadia are also recipients of another grant by Facebook of up to USD$20,000 that will help them execute projects related to their groups. The grant has also been offered to four other Facebook group creators including Binish Umair (Karachi School Guide), Saba Mohsin Sheikh (Karachi Chefs At Home), Asma Omer (Marham) and Rabia Aziz-Rizvi (Special Needs Pakistan). All six community leaders will be featured on the NeoTV reality show Idea Croron Ka.