Zendagi’s story begins 10 years ago, when tired and fed up of the corporate world and its endless pursuit of money, I began to look for inspiration and quit my high-flying consulting job. Knowing only that i wanted to use my skills to make a positive impact, i volunteered with a women’s group in India to develop their program plan. I eventually joined an international development agency focusing on issues of poverty alleviation in the developing countries.
My new work took me to new parts of the world, to a world that I had never seen and I worked in situations I had never imagined. I lived in war zones, I worked in post conflict countries, I delivered aid to displaced populations, I designed disaster risk management plans and I raised funds to implement these programs.
My work travels eventually took me to the land of my birth, Pakistan, a country that I had often heard of from my parents but had not visited since childhood. In Pakistan i worked primarily in northern regions, in Gilgit Baltistan. In Gilgit I found, nestled at the foothills of some of the world’s tallest mountains, one of the most isolated and poor communities.
My Aha Moment
To break the cycle of poverty and provide artisans with additional source of income, various NGO’s had implemented gemstone processing and jewelry making programs in Gilgit. Working for an NGO I realized that we were very good at implementing training programs but often failed to take the next crucial step – create market access. The artisans having received these extensive trainings were still unable to stake out a livelihood as they had no access to profitable markets or idea of what to produce. This was the moment I knew that i could put my business skills to work and create market access for these artisans.
And this is when Zendagi was brought to life.