An international roster of donors has dispersed billions of dollars since 2000 to address social issues targeted by the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. Their efforts highlight four ways that big bets can achieve big social change.
The Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) illustrates the impact a major funder can have in growing university-level educational opportunities. AKDN, led by His Highness the Aga Khan, the 49th hereditary Imam (Spiritual Leader) of the Shia Ismaili Muslims, has spent more than $1 billion since 2000 to construct and expand two AKDN universities. One of those universities is the University of Central Asia (UCA), which AKDN established in partnership with governments in Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, and the Kyrgyz Republic.
In Africa and India, AKDN also has built the first three of 18 planned Aga Khan Academies, a network of schools for exceptional K-12 students in 14 countries. “These are leadership development engines for people who do not have the opportunity to access this quality of education,” says Khalil Shariff, CEO of the Aga Khan Foundation Canada.
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