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Zahir Dasu

Zahir Dasu is an Associate Partner at Itad and leads our Inclusive Growth practice. He brings over 15 years of professional experience across both the public and private sectors.

Zahir cares passionately about reducing poverty and firmly believes the best way to do this is to harness the power of markets, companies and investors to create jobs and opportunities. More than a decade of his career has been in the public sector, with roles in both Department for International Development (DFID) and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), including postings to two of DFID’s largest country programmes (Pakistan and Bangladesh). With the FCO, Zahir was posted to a country of strategic importance to the UK, Egypt. Zahir has led important policy initiatives, as well as the design and implementation of a number of flagship DFID programmes, particularly in the economic development space.

In Pakistan, Zahir helped design the Punjab Skills Development Fund (PSDF) and led components of the Financial Inclusion Programme (FIP). He also worked closely with the Minister of planning to develop Pakistan’s growth strategy (2011) and was task lead when the Ministry of Finance decided to implement a new medium term budgeting process.

In Bangladesh, Zahir oversaw Katalyst (the longest running M4P programme worldwide) as well as sector support to health and education. He also designed and led the £10 million health innovation challenge fund.

In Egypt, Zahir built a new portfolio of work on economic cooperation. This included technical advice directly to the Ministry of Finance (during Egypt’s negotiations on an IMF package), establishing the first-ever multiyear partnership between FCO and World Bank, and working with the London Stock Exchange to support Egypt’s issuance of $8 billion of sovereign bonds in London.

After returning to London in 2017, Zahir led DFID’s global investment climate policy work, including advocating for greater coherence between improving business environment ‘rules’ and facilitating investment ‘deals’. This led to him playing a strategic role in helping articulate DFID’s offer on ‘building markets of the future’ as part of DFID’s strategic refresh in 2018. He also supported the Prime Minister’s summer 2018 visit to Africa.

Prior to joining DFID, Zahir took part in the Accenture UK graduate scheme and held various roles in the city, including at Barclays Global Investors (subsequently bought by Blackrock investors) and Deutsche Bank in their global markets division.

By joining Itad, Zahir hopes to oversee Itad’s existing portfolio of work with donors (including DFID), while using the tools Itad has developed, particularly around impact measurement, to help companies and investors to maximise their impact on the lives of the poorest.

Zahir has a BSc in Economics from the London School of Economics and an MA from the University of Warwick. He passed the Chartered Financial Analyst (level 1) exam in 2012.

Nationality: British
Languages: English (fluent), French (advanced), Arabic (conversational).
Country Experience:

Bangladesh, Egypt, Pakistan


MSc Economics
University of Warwick
BSc Economics (First Class)
London School of Economics


2019 - ongoing
Associate Partner
Itad Ltd.

2017 - 2019
Deputy team leader
Jobs and Inclusive Growth Team, GRD

2014 - 2017
First Secretary (Economic)
DFID Egypt/North Africa Unit

Assistant Private Secretary
Private Office, DFID Secretary of State

2011 - 2014
Economic Advisor
DFID Bangladesh, Dhaka

2008 - 2011
Economic Advisor
DFID Pakistan

2007 - 2008
Assistant Economist

2005 - 2007

Research assistant
Deutsche Bank

Reporting analyst
Barclays Global Investors (BGI)

Project Experience:

Jobs Multidonor Trust Fund (MDTF)
(DFID) - Senior Responsible Owner
Oversight of DFIDs contribution to the multidonor trust fund being implemented by the World Bank.
Enhancing diagnostics programme
(DFID) - Senior Responsible Owner
Oversight of the roll out of country diagnostics across DFIDs country portfolio. This includes being
lead reviewer for the Egypt and Pakistan country diagnostic reports.

2014 - 2017
Policy Technical Assistance support
(DFID/FCO, Egypt) - Senior Responsible Owner
Support to the Ministry of Finance around reducing the deficit and improving the effectiveness of
public spending. Includes support around policy reform communications through the UK cabinet office
communications team.

Support to ECES to promote private sector
(DFID/FCO, Egypt) - Senior Responsible Owner
Support to the Egyptian Center for Economic Studies to support a series of research, analysis and
publications around promoting the private sector in Egypt.

Strategic Trust Fund (with World Bank)
(DFID/FCO, Egypt) - Senior Responsible Owner
New trust fund spanning £15 million over 4 years to support economic reform and private sector
development in Egypt.

Quarterly macro-economic briefings
(DFID, Bangladesh) - Lead advisor
Lead advisor on a series of 4 dialogues intended to develop understanding of the evidence in favour of
economic reform. The chief guests have included the Prime Ministers economic advisor, the Minister
of Commerce, and the chairman of the National Board of Revenue.

Growth policy programme
(DFID, Pakistan ) - Lead advisor
Designed and successfully defended a £10m proposal to support growth policymaking in Pakistan. The New Development Approach was approved by the Prime Minister in 2011.
Financial innovation challenge fund
(DFID, Pakistan) - Lead advisor
Designed and successfully launched a £10m fund to support innovations in Pakistan’s financial sector.
This included DFID funding to Telenor for the Easy Paisa mobile money transfer scheme.

Kashf microfinance programme
(DFID, Pakistan) - Lead advisor
Team leader on DFID support to the Kashf Foundation, who provide micro-finance loans to 1 million
rural clients.

Medium Term Budgeting programme
(DFID, Pakistan ) - Lead advisor
Working with Oxford Policy Management to introduce medium term budgeting.