Mr. Ahmad Ashkar holds many titles, of which those that stand out include his favorite, “Dad”, Chief Executive Officer, Founder, Restaurateur, Speaker and Author. Ahmad is a Palestinian American who was born and raised in Kansas where he was an All-American football player and student athlete at Immaculata Prep highschool. He is an accomplished and decorated businessman, development executive, speaker and restaurant owner who loves disruption and is a self described tinkerer. His startups, learning programs, projects and companies have been recognized as some of the most impactful and creative in the world. Married to his Palestinan American sweetheart Tanya, Ahmad resides in Northern Virginia, with his wife and four children.
Ahmad’s day job is the Founder of The Hult Prize Foundation - a venture training and learning company he founded more than 10 years ago – named in a TIME Magazine cover story featuring the top five ideas changing the world and recognized by Fast Company in their annual “World’s Most Innovative Company” rankings. In his role, Ahmad jet sets around the world 150 days of the year to manage a global team, inspire a generation of young people to believe in themselves as leaders of change and direct the Hult portfolio of companies spanning multiple continents around the world from Austin to Nairobi.
Ahmad has been honored for his work by a variety of publications including both in business and philanthropy. In 2019, Ahmad was named by Gulf Business as one of the “Top 100 Most Powerful Arabs” for his work in youth empowerment via the Hult Prize Foundation, an organization he founded in 2009, which employs staff on six continents and a student workforce of 30,000 organizers. The Hult Prize Foundation transforms how young people envision their own possibilities as leaders of change in the world around them, representing a generation of impact centered entrepreneurs emerging from university, with a network of over two million people, spanning 121 countries.
Ahmad’s primary side hustles revolve around food, entrepreneurship capacity building and non-profit boards. He is the Founding Chairman of Falafel Inc, the 2017 Washington, D.C. Metro restaurant of the year according to Yelp! and BuzzFeed and winner of the 2019 Sandwich of the Year - according to Yelp! and USA Today. Falafel Inc is a multi-unit food impact enterprise, which Ahmad founded in 2017 to feed and empower refugees -- having fed more than 250,000 needy people since opening its flagship Georgetown, Washington, D.C. location where Ashkar pioneered the $3 falafel sandwich that feeds refugees.
He is also the Founder and Chief Pit Master at District BBQ, home of the Washington DC Metro’s number one BBQ Sandwich, “The District Z.” District BBQ was rated as runner up for Best BBQ in DC by the Washington Post and consistently ranks amongst the very best in the metro.
When he is not smoking perfect burnt ends and savory “Q” or frying up authentic Palestinian street food for a cause Ahmad is busy building leading entrepreneur and learning programs for governments via private-public partnerships and innovative financing mechanisms across the world, with a specific focus on the Middle East, including: Jordan, Lebanon and Palestine. Amongst the most notable programs are The Changemaker Festival - MENA´s largest youth festival for entrepreneurship and the ChangeLabs, brick and mortar centers designed to ignite entrepreneurship targeting youth.
His non-profit board work includes serving on the executive board and Chair of the Development Committee of the Palestinan Refugee Aid organization, ANERA, globally headquartered in Washington, DC. and the Georgetown Business Improvement District. Ahmad is also an adviser to the Washington D.C. Economic Partnership where he serves as a WEDC ambassador. He previously served as an advisory board member of the United Nations Development Program and is a member of the Entrepreneurs Expert Network of the World Economic Forum and a Co-founder of the, “The Laudato Si Challenge - Inspired by Pope Francis.”
A leader in development, academia and industry, Ahmad has been recognized as the 2018 GQ Entrepreneur of the Year, the 2017 CEO of the Year by Arabian Business and the 2016 Esquire Magazine Entrepreneur of the Year. Ahmad has spent over a decade teaching entrepreneurship, building world leading startup programs and developing educational content while inspiring millions of youth to change the world through soft skill development and entrepreneurial mind-set training and business financing. He also serves as an adviser to family offices, religious institutions, private and government sector entities across the Middle East, Latin America, Europe and Asia. He is the author of the forthcoming book, “The Pursuit of Impact” and an active advocate for Middle East Peace and youth employment equality. He is an adviser to the economic development department of George Mason University and is a guest lecturer at MIT Sloan, Georgetown, AUB and a faculty member of the International Law Institute and the Hult International Business School – where he earned his MBA in international business and was the 2015 alumnus of the year.