With a career spanning three decades, Durreen Shahnaz is a global leader of social impact and impact investing as well as a defiant optimist with a bold vision for a more inclusive and peaceful world. She is the founder of Impact Investment Exchange (IIX) and IIX Foundation, home of the world’s first social stock exchange and Asia’s largest crowdfunding platforms for impact investing. Furthermore, per Shahnaz’s ambitious vision and entrepreneurial spirit, IIX also is the social innovator behind a proprietary impact assessment methodology and innovative financial structures such as the world’s first Women’s Livelihood Bond. Through its cutting-edge programs and products, IIX connects the backstreets of underserved communities to the Wall Streets of the world by changing financial systems and innovating solutions for women empowerment, climate action, and community resilience, thus driving forward the Sustainable Development Goals. To date, IIX and IIX Foundation’s work has spanned 40 countries, unlocked nearly $75 million of private sector capital, avoided over 850,000 metric tonnes of carbon and impacted over 23 million lives.
Born in Bangladesh, Shahnaz has built an international track record as a successful social entrepreneur, banker, media executive and academic at leading institutions including Morgan Stanley (New York), Grameen Bank (Bangladesh), Hearst Magazines International (New York), and the National University of Singapore. Additionally, she founded, grew and sold oneNest (New York) – an impact enterprise and one of the first e-commerce sites focused on creating a marketplace for handmade goods which created economic opportunity for over a half-million people worldwide. oneNest was sold to Novica United, working in association with National Geographic Society. Through these roles, Shahnaz has broken down walls and built bridges to build a more just, inclusive and sustainable future.
Shahnaz holds a BA from Smith College and a joint degree – an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and a MA from the School for Advanced International Studies at John Hopkins University.
Leadership & Awards
Shahnaz is the recipient of the 2017 Oslo Business for Peace Award, often referred to as the ‘Nobel Prize for Business’, the 2017 Global Steering Group for Impact Investment Impact Market Builder of the Year Award, the 2016 Asia Society Asia Game Changer Award, in addition to the prestigious 2014 Joseph Wharton Social Impact Award given by the Wharton School of University of Pennsylvania. Additionally, she currently serves on the advisory board for UNDP, United Nations ESCAP, G20 Steering Committee for Impact Investing, and was also an appointed member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council. She has been a program advisor to the Clinton Global Initiative, a 2010 TED fellow, a TED speaker and is frequently invited to contribute as a resource person to media, foundations and universities.
- First Bangladeshi woman to work on Wall Street
- Facilitated the transaction of Grameen Bank’s first financing round
- Became the youngest Vice President (at age 29) in the history of Hearst Corporation – one of the largest media companies in the world and oversaw the entire Asia operation
- Successfully founded, grew and sold an E-commerce platform that connected microbusinesses in the developing world to global markets
- Developed a proprietary impact assessment methodology that has been adopted by over 130 high-impact enterprises and non-profits worldwide
- Visionary of the world’s first social stock exchange, Impact Exchange, and the first-of-its-kind Women’s Livelihood Bond Structure
- Facilitator of Asia’s largest impact investing crowdfunding platform, Impact Partners
- Invited to address the United Nations General Assembly High Meeting: Innovative Finance for Sustainable Peace in 2018
- Recognized motivational speaker on TED and TED Fellow
- Host of the Back Street to Wall Street podcast series with Knowledge@Wharton bringing global voices of development, innovative finance and social entrepreneurship to mainstream radio
Impact in Numbers
- Impacted over 25 million lives throughout her career
- Led efforts that avoided over 850,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions
- Advocated for empowering women, underserved communities, and the environment at over 200 gatherings worldwide
- Spoken to youth groups from over 20 global universities on social innovation, entrepreneurship and impact investing
IIX (Impact Investment Exchange) is a global organization dedicated to building a more inclusive world as the foundation for sustainable peace. The company together with our sister foundation connects the Back Streets of underserved communities to the Wall Streets of the world by changing financial systems and innovating solutions for women empowerment, climate action, and community resilience. Our mission is to unlock US$1 billion in private sector capital to impact over 100 million lives by 2022. Over the past decade, our work has spanned 40 countries, unlocked nearly $75 million of private sector capital, avoided over 850,000 metric tonnes of carbon and impacted over 23 million lives.
Read more about Durreen Shahnaz in our full profile here.