Promise – Ensuring development projects go further

Shakira Choonara Development Consultancy is a millennial-led, social impact-oriented firm with a long-term vision to leave a lasting mark on the development arena. In this decade of action, we are working towards tailor making each project to suite our client’s needs, whilst maximising impact and accelerating progress towards achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

We are working towards;

  • Public Health and Strong Health Systems (SDG3),
  • Gender Equality (SDG 5), and
  • Investing in Youth (cross-cutting across all SDGs).

Based in South Africa, Shakira Choonara Development Consultancy already has a regional and international footprint. Clients range from International Development Agencies, Regional Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and the private sector.

The firm is founded on a strong sense of giving back, social entrepreneurship is a pathway to equity and on-the-ground impact is critical. Proceeds of all our projects are directed towards community-centred social initiatives.


Dr. Shakira Choonara

I am by no means a traditional researcher; I want to see impact and implementation, everywhere, all the time.  Stepping into the advocacy space allowed me to merge research, implementation and action, to begin to craft programmes which have meaning for women, the youth as well as people living with HIV. 

I have never aspired to be an entrepreneur, yet here I am, afraid, excited. As a go-getter, a dreamer, a visionary, an activist, I want to build communities in Africa, I want to create lasting change and this charts the way.

– Dr Shakira Choonara, 2017 Woman of the Year in Health South Africa, 100 Most Influential Young Africans

Dr Shakira Choonara is an award-winning independent public health practitioner, bold activist, renowned public speaker and Operation Smile Ambassador for South Africa (SA). She is a dynamic and budding social entrepreneur, the recent founder of a development consultancy firm. In 2018-2020 she served on the inaugural African Union Youth Council and is presently the AMREF Africa AHAIC Commissioner for universal health coverage. This past year she has also served as the Guest Editor of the Feminist Journal, Agenda published by Taylor and Francis.

Dr Choonara is a recipient of a number of prestigious awards including being listed as the Mail and Guardian 50 Most Powerful Women, Destiny Magazine’s Most Powerful Woman under 40, 100 influential Young Africans and the Woman of the Year in Health in SA. Dr Choonara attained her PhD (Public Health) at the age of 27 years, an Honours (Cum Laude) and Masters in Demography from the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa.

She is widely recognised for her work and experience in health policy and systems research, specifically universal health coverage, gender equality, sexual and reproductive health rights, non-communicable diseases, HIV and youth development. Dr Choonara has spearheaded a range of health projects in research and advocacy across the African continent and is currently working on an impressive list of projects linked to the United Nations (UN), the World Health Organization, international and regional non-governmental organizations.

Outside of healthcare, she serves on the Board of the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation, deepening non-racialism in SA, she is passionate about strengthening community level work and as an all-rounder, she is currently pursuing acting classes.


Mail and Guardian, Top 50 Powerful Woman in South Africa.

100 Most Influential Young Africans, Africa Youth Awards, 2018 & 2019.

Named one of 100 Future Young Mandela’s, News 24, South Africa, 2018.

Listed as the most Powerful Woman under 40 in South Africa, Destiny Magazine, South Africa, 2017.

Woman of the Year, Healthcare – Woman of Stature Network, South Africa, 2017.

National Research Foundation, Next Generation Female Researcher (Top Young Researcher), South Africa, 2017.

Public Health Association South Africa (PHASA) Emerging Practitioner Award, 2017.