Prof. Durreen Shahnaz, a Bangladeshi-American entrepreneur, is the CEO and founder of Impact Investment Exchange (IIX). A global leader of social impact 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 thousands of entrepreneurs, investors, governments and impact stakeholders around the world play a role in sustainable development and women’s empowerment.
Shahnaz continues on her mission to build a more inclusive and sustainable world by bringing underserved women to the forefront of capital markets.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.”
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.
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?
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.
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.