Prof Durreen Shahnaz
Founder and Managing Director of IIX and IIX Foundation
For most people, many things seem irreconcilable: profits and impact, change and stability, motherhood and entrepreneurship. Not for Durreen Shahnaz, a ‘Defiant Optimist’ that has never resigned to the status quo. As the first female Bangladeshi investment banker on Wall Street, her desire to use finance for social good led her to work with Grameen Bank. Witnessing the struggles of Grameen borrowers lacking market access motivated her to found OneNest, an e-commerce company empowering micro-entrepreneurs with global market access. Her difficulties with raising capital for OneNest, a mission-driven business, would later inspire her. While teaching Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the LKY School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore, Durreen wrote about the need for investing in businesses that were driving sustainable development. With the Rockefeller Foundation’s support, Durreen founded Impact Investment Exchange (IIX), home to the world’s first social stock exchange and largest equity crowd-funding platform for impact investing, and IIX Foundation, focused on program management and fund raising for financial structuring, technical assistance and impact assessment work that is fundamental to unlocking private sector capital for development. Together, IIX and IIX Foundation have since empowered over 12 million people by supporting mission-driven businesses in scaling. Durreen holds a BA from Smith College, and a joint degree — MBA from the Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania and MA from the School for Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University. She is recipient of the 2014 Joseph Wharton Social Impact Award, 2016 Asia Society Asia Game Changer Award, 2017 Oslo Business for Peace Award and 2017 Market Builder of the Year Award (along with IIX). Prof Shahnaz currently serves on the Advisory Board of UNDP Innovation Facility, UNESCAP Trade, Investment and Innovation Division and the US$ 50 million Start-up Fund under the ICT Division of the Government of Bangladesh.