Founder & Chairman of the Board of Directors: Azizjon Azimi
Azizjon Azimi is the founder and chairman of TajRupt. He is a concurrent-degree Master's in Public Policy candidate at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, and Master's in Business Administration candidate at Stanford University's Graduate School of Business. He has been named a Knight-Hennessy Scholar by Stanford as a member of the program's inaugural cohort, receiving full funding for graduate studies at the Graduate School of Business from the largest scholarship program in the world. In addition, he was recently recognized by Forbes Asia in their 2018 "30 Under 30" list in social entrepreneurship category for his work on founding TajRupt.
Born and raised in Tajikistan, he arrived to the United States to attend high school at the age of 11 after winning a global olympiad in sustainable energy with a group of fellow Tajik students. He holds a Bachelor of Arts (cum laude) degree from New York University with high honors in economics and honors in international relations, having been the youngest degree candidate of the Class of 2016.
It was during his time at NYU that he came to value the essence of critical thinking skills that systemically lack in Tajikistan's educational landscape through extracurricular activities and academic studies. He served as president of NYU Model United Nations - the largest student organization on campus - and was appointed to the all-university Student Activities Board. He was also named a Holten Family Research Scholar for his academic achievements and spent summer of 2015 studying abroad in Dubai, UAE. Upon graduation, he worked at United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and in the banking division of Simon-Kucher & Partners, a strategy and marketing consultancy, in New York.
Recognizing that the vast majority of Tajikistani youth did not have the opportunities that were endowed to him, Azizjon made it a personal goal of his to empower talented young leaders in his homeland to realize their full potential and enact grassroots social change. From gender equality activism as part of HerStory, to media freedom in State of Affairs and dialogue through debate in Model United Nations, Azizjon's vision for TajRupt has pioneered extracurricular activism with a liberal arts focus for high school and university students in the country. He is confident that TajRupt will ultimately disrupt the status quo and educate a new generation of civic-minded leaders passionate about community service.
Executive Director & Board Member: Gulnora Gafurova
Gulnora Gafurova is the Executive Director of TajRupt. She graduated from Tajik State University with a degree in economics in 2002 and worked as a marketing analyst at a consulting firm upon graduation. She continued her academic studies in the United States and obtained a Master of Science degree (summa cum laude) from St. John’s University in New York in 2010. After returning from the US, she worked at Atlasi Khujand LLC - Tajikistan's sole manufacturer of atlas and adras national silk textiles.
She served as Senior Lecturer at Tajik State University of Commerce where she taught management. Having been promoted to the position of Chief Operating Officer at Atlasi Khujand in 2013, she oversaw and directed daily operations of a 50-person enterprise, coordinating administrative activities across multiple departments. She now serves as Adjunct Senior Lecturer at Khujand State University where she teaches English language instruction in the Department of Foreign Languages, along with working on her doctoral thesis examining contrastive linguistics across Tajik, Russian, and English languages.
Director of Finance & Board Member: Stephen Caputo
Stephen Caputo is an equity research associate at Susquehenna International Group (SIG) in New York and founder of Outer Advertising, an early stage advertising startup. The company works to provide advertising solutions to ride-sharing drivers throughout the United States. Prior to founding Outer Advertising, he worked as equity research associate at Barclays Investment Bank in New York covering consumer financial, software, and consumer retail companies. Stephen completed his undergraduate studies at New York University, majoring in Economics. His long-standing interest in foreign policy began in his elementary school geography class and led to his role as a leader in NYU Model United Nations, a student-run organization where he served as President in his senior year of college. In addition, he was part of a number of leadership tasks at NYU including serving on the Student Activities Board and the All-Square Student Budget Allocation Committee, as well as managing the investment portfolio of the prestigious NYU Stern Investment Analysis Group. He hopes to help young Tajik entrepreneurs in realizing their full potential and installing innovation in the country’s education sphere.
Board Member: Areesha Irfan
Areesha Irfan is an undergraduate student at New York University pursuing a double major in political science and Middle Eastern and Islamic studies. She has devoted much of her life to fighting for gender equality and social justice both in the United States and abroad, with her work experience having revolved around the sphere of jurisprudence. She has previously worked as a legal intern and clerk at law firms and institutions including Scott B. Franklin & Associates, Hartford Healthcare, Pardalis & Nohavicka LLP, and Sussman & Frankel LLP. She has also been featured in the “In Support of He for She” film as part of a United Nations gender equality initiative.
Having family roots in Pakistan – a nation with substantial gender and socioeconomic divides – has fueled her passion for educational programs in developing countries. She hopes to live abroad after graduation, furthering equality around the world. Fluent in four languages, she has travelled to many developing nations such as Paraguay and witnessed first-hand the powerful impact that educational reform can have on communities. She looks forward to working alongside the rest of the team at TajRupt to help students in Tajikistan get the education they deserve.
Board Member: Gulnoza Mansur
Gulnoza Mansur is a deals consultant at PwC in Dubai and a graduate of New York University Abu Dhabi with a major in public policy. Throughout her undergraduate career, she had studied abroad at Sorbonne Paris Cité, NYU Paris, NYU Sydney, NYU Accra, and at the NYU Stern School of Business in New York. Gulnoza wrote her senior thesis on investment decision-making in renewable energy technologies by Emiratis in the United Arab Emirates.
In addition to environmental sustainability, Gulnoza is passionate about issues of human rights and public health. She was part of a student-led project that successfully pitched a three-year pilot program called “Filoxenia” at the Greek Parliament to address the needs of 500 Syrian refugee families for housing and integration in Greece. Gulnoza was also on a public health mission to Ethiopia where she observed public, private, and non-profit hospitals in Addis Ababa and recorded positive impact of NGOs for the underprivileged, as well as HIV-AIDS and leprosy infected people.
Prior to attending NYU, Gulnoza worked at the American Councils as a coordinator of the “Future Leaders of Exchange” (FLEX) program in Kazakhstan. She was leading community service initiatives including organizing the largest charity marathon in the capital city of Astana. She was nominated to represent Kazakhstani youth at the United Nations Global Forum in Vienna where she addressed restrictions on media freedom in Kazakhstan.
As a native Tajik from Sughd region, Gulnoza is honored to be on the Board of TajRupt and to contribute to prosperity of her homeland. She acknowledges the critical need for enhancing educational opportunities in securing a prosperous future of the nation.
Project Coordinator - Zarrina Sultonova
Zarrina Sultonova graduated from Khujand State University in 2009 majoring in English language, and attended Aga Khan Humanity courses in Central Asia. She has since worked at non-governmental educational institutions, including private schools and language centers, where she has focused on youth development through debates, discussions, and psychology courses in English language. In 2017, she was selected for the prestigious English Teaching Mentorship Program run by the Embassy of the United States in Tajikistan, completing the program as the only representative from Khujand. At TajRupt’s ERC, she has taught upper-intermediate level of English and has directed the gender equality initiative as part of HerStory.