Empowering Changemakers with the Western Union Foundation Fellowship

Global Citizen By Robyn Burns Nov 28, 2023

The Western Union Foundation is proud to spotlight Gulmina Mahmud, a humanitarian and social entrepreneur who participated in the inaugural cohort of the Foundation’s signature Fellowship program. This unique program, powered by Watson Institute, has been empowering emerging leaders with business training and seed funding to launch their own community ventures since 2021.

Gulmina is a shining example of the creative, trailblazing social entrepreneurs who are changing people’s lives and gaining support through the Fellowship. Her passion for humanitarian work stems from having grown up in Pakistan’s volatile Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. ​

“I’m from the tribal areas of Pakistan by the Afghan border,” Gulmina shared. “I left when I was 12… one of the main reasons that I left and my parents decided to move was for safety, for a better future.”

​Passionate about the power of education, Gulmina was driven to find a way to support the next generation of girls in her home community. She joined forces with her mom and grandmother to open the Swabi school project, which is the first girl’s school in the history of her home village. Gulmina is also the Executive Director and Partner at SheWorks, a social enterprise providing market access opportunities to artisans in rural and impoverished communities – including women in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

“Our next hope is to create a women’s center next to the school so that mothers can drop their girls off to school, go and get their skills-based training and work, pick their girls up and then, go home – because that proximity issue is a big concern for little girls to be able to walk to school alone. That’s one of the big reasons that girls don’t go to school in that region,” Gulmina explained. “This whole idea for the women’s center and the school being in close proximity was something that I decided during my Fellowship. I was so inspired.”

“The Western Union Foundation Fellowship allows me to understand my own story and my own displacement – while also allowing me to heal other people and understand theirs,” shared Gulmina. “The Fellowship provided a community where I felt heard as we were all dealing with the same broader societal and local community pressures. My cohort was composed of unbelievably courageous and talented changemakers that are not scared to do the difficult humanitarian and advocacy work many will not dare to venture.”

Visit the Western Union Foundation’s website to learn more about their Fellowship program.


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