Zeeshan Sheikh has been appointed as IFC’s new country manager for Afghanistan and Pakistan. Sheikh’s goal will be to mobilise private sector investment across critical sectors, leveraging IFC’s global knowledge and influence as a preferred partner for public and private sector stakeholders.
Sheikh, a British national, began working with IFC in 2010. He has substantial experience with public-private partnerships and creative infrastructure initiatives in the Middle East and North Africa, particularly in frontier areas such as Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Jordan. He relocated to Washington, D.C., in 2018 to support the IFC’s regional activities in Europe, Central Asia, and Latin America. Before joining IFC, he spent several years in London working in corporate finance, mergers and acquisitions, and private equity investments.
“Zeeshan’s varied experience and expertise across several sectors and geographies will be essential in growing IFC’s work in the area,” said Khawaja Aftab Ahmed, IFC Regional Director for the Middle East, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.
Sheikh enters a territory devastated by COVID-19 and years of geopolitical unrest. Afghanistan is in the grip of an economic and humanitarian disaster, and one in every five Pakistanis lives in poverty. Despite these limitations, the region offers numerous prospects for increasing private sector participation.
Sheikh’s priority as country manager will be to strengthen IFC’s engagement in important areas such as access to finance, climate, agribusiness, export-oriented manufacturing, and infrastructure. In addition, the IFC will collaborate closely with other World Bank Group members and external development partners to promote critical policy reform areas.
“I am pleased to have the opportunity to manage IFC’s activities in this crucial region and work closely with our public and private sector partners to ensure Pakistan and Afghanistan’s sustainable and inclusive growth,” Sheikh said.
Since 1956, IFC has been a prominent player in Pakistan, with a committed portfolio of $1.2 billion and pioneering investments in renewables, private housing finance, port infrastructure, microfinance, chemicals, and agribusiness. The IFC’s involvement in Afghanistan has been centred on assisting the private sector through advisory services and investments in areas that have the potential to transform growth and job creation.
Sheikh holds an honours degree in corporate finance and accounting from the University of Leeds and is a chartered accountant with PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP in London.