P.D. Soros Fellowship for New Americans


Zahir Dossa, 2010

CEO and Co-Founder, Function of Beauty

Zahir Dossa is an immigrant from Canada

Fellowship awarded to support work towards a PhD in Sustainable Development at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

ZAHIR DOSSA is the co-founder and CEO of Function of Beauty. The Fellowship supported his work towards a PhD in sustainable development at MIT.

Zahir was born in Canada before moving to Texas to parents of Indian heritage who had settled in, and then fled during the socialist regime from, Tanzania. 

Zahir gained admission to Massachusetts Institute of Technology to complete a BS. Funded as an undergraduate by the Gates Foundation, Zahir graduated with majors in electrical engineering and computer science along with management. He went on to receive an MEng in Computer Science while pursuing his current Ph.D. program.

At MIT, Zahir and a fellow student founded an organization to distribute low-tech but very inexpensive irrigation pumps to low-income farmers in Sudan. Their efforts were featured in an article in Popular Mechanics and a report on BBC World Radio. Their organization has received various awards, including the $10,000 Davis Peace Prize.

Continuing with his interest in international development, Zahir has created a curriculum for practitioners and is working to create a minor in international development at MIT.


  • PhD Sustainable Development | Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) 2013
  • MEng Urban Studies & Planning | Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) 2010
  • BS Electrical Engineering & Computer Science | Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) 2008
  • BS Management Science | Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) 2008
Work History
  • Function of Beauty, CEO and Co-Founder
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