Meet Durreen Shahnaz

Prof. Durreen Shahnaz, a Bangladeshi-American entrepreneur, is the CEO and founder of Impact Investment Exchange (IIX). A global leader of sustainable finance and impact investing, she is a 2017 Oslo Business for Peace Award Honoree (often referred to as the ‘Nobel Prize for Business’), a financial rainmaker in Forbes 50 over 50, and an Asia Society Game Changer Awardee.

Drawing from a rich career through which she broke down walls and built bridges to connect the backstreets of underserved communities to the Wall Streets of the world, Shahnaz’s work has helped millions of women, thousands of entrepreneurs, investors, governments, and impact stakeholders around the world play a role in sustainable development and women’s empowerment. 

Shahnaz continues her mission to build a more inclusive and sustainable world by bringing the intersection of climate action and gender equality to the forefront of capital markets.

Durren Shahnaz

A journey of courage

  • Born in Bangladesh, grew up in Philippines

    Sowing her seeds of defiance as the fourth daughter in a Bengali family, Durreen was determined to not be a rebel in secret only, but to defy a system dictating the lives of women.

  • Started career as first Bangladeshi woman investment banker on Wall Street

    With a desire to use finance for a better world, Prof. Shahnaz made a dive into working with the most underserved of micro-businesses with Grameen Bank.

  • After witnessing the struggles of borrowers, she created OneNest to empower micro-entrepreneurs with access to the global market.

    Taught Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy in Singapore where she continued with her writings on sustainable development.

  • Her writings led her to meeting with the Rockefeller Foundation, which gave her the inspiration and foundational support for Durreen to take on a leadership role for impact investing in Asia.

    At the height of the global financial crisis in 2009, Durreen conceptualized the world’s first social stock exchange with IIX to support impact enterprises scale successfully and move impact investing to the mainstream of finance.

  • A year after IIX’s founding, its sister entity IIX Foundation, was set-up to empower to further echo this mission

    Today, more than 140 million lives have been positively impact by the team at IIX. The Women's Livelihood Bond Series even made history as the world's first gender-lens, impact security listed on a stock exchange.

    Present day, IIX’s footprint now extends to XXX countries and XXX beneficiaries.

    Sowing the Seeds
    of Defiance

    “I was born in Dhaka, which is now the capital of Bangladesh, the fourth daughter of a mother whose very happiness depended upon my gender.

    Growing up, I hoped – I prayed – I would not be a rebel in secret only.”

    Search for the
    Source of Power

    I have learned finance, found the source of power, and learned how to use it. Nobody can stop me now.

    With my passion to use that knowledge to do good, and the extra baggage of idealism to go with it, I returned to Bangladesh where there were 60 million women whose lives I could impact.

    The Defiant Optimist

    Media Gallery

    Creation from Destruction

    I was slowly learning that it takes a village and many different players in it to make finance work for the underserved, but where was that village? Who was going to create it if not ourselves?

    Courage to Imagine a New World

    The answer started unfolding in my head as I reflected on my career as a practitioner, To create a truly inclusive system, we need to think expansively enough, even if it meant building a new one from scratch. 

    I was committed to nothing less than creating a new world where everyone belonged, including my two daughters. 


    We are the Defiant Optimists™

    Through our work at Impact Investment Exchange (IIX), we have unlocked US$233 million in investment capital and empowered 140M+ lives…

    and we are just getting started.

    Be Defiant. Be an Optimist. A peaceful future is at reach through innovative finance.

    Available for pre-order now