Women Empowerment


Impact Investing Exchange (IIX) is a pioneer in impact investing, founded by Professor Durreen Shahnaz. In 2017, it launched its first Women’s Livelihood Bond, focusing on financial inclusion enterprises in Southeast Asia. Since then, the series has expanded to include new sectors in Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and India. READ MORE

World’s First Listed Gender Lens Impact Investing Security, IIX Women’s Livelihood Bond 1, Matures

July 6, 2021 – SINGAPORE – Impact Investment Exchange (IIX)’s Women’s Livelihood BondTM 1 (WLB1), the world’s first gender lens and impact investing instrument to be listed on a stock exchange (the Singapore Exchange), matured on July 6, 2021. With all coupon payments and principal payments made on time, even throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bond provided investors with an annual return of 5.65% from 2017-2021. The WLB1 is the first issuance of the US$150M Women’s Livelihood Bond Series, a series of innovative debt securities that creates sustainable livelihoods for over 3 million underserved women across the Asia-Pacific and other emerging markets. In addition to its strong financial performance, all social performance targets, including targets for increased financial inclusion and financial resilience, were met or exceeded, demonstrating the sustainability of the bond’s underlying portfolio throughout the pandemic.

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OPINION: To build sustainable ocean economies, start by investing in women – Thomson Reuters Foundation

Some 60 million women work in the fishing industry, making up nearly half that global workforce. But women often do the least recognized and lowest paid jobs – collecting fish on the beach or working side-by-side in processing plants – and have little access to capital to start or grow their own businesses.

They face discrimination, hold few management positions and are underrepresented in decision-making groups about investments for sustainable fisheries. And yet evidence shows that when we invest in women, they are empowered to conserve and manage natural resources like our oceans, which yields better results than when they are excluded. READ MORE

Financing a sustainable ocean economy – Nature

The ocean, which regulates climate and supports vital ecosystem services, is crucial to our Earth system and livelihoods. Yet, it is threatened by anthropogenic pressures and climate change. A healthy ocean that supports a sustainable ocean economy requires adequate financing vehicles that generate, invest, align, and account for financial capital to achieve sustained ocean health and governance. However, the current finance gap is large; we identify key barriers to financing a sustainable ocean economy and suggest how to mitigate them, to incentivize the kind of public and private investments needed for top-notch science and management in support of a sustainable ocean economy. READ MORE

5 Questions with Durreen Shahnaz – Morgan Stanley Alumni

Former Morgan Stanley analyst Durreen Shahnaz is the founder and CEO of Impact Investment Exchange (IIX). As the first Bangladeshi woman investment banker on Wall Street, Shahnaz has focused her career on giving value to those who are typically invisible to financial markets.  Founded in 2009, IIX is a global organization that is, according to their website1, “dedicated to building a more inclusive world by changing financial systems and innovating solutions for women empowerment, climate action, and community resilience.” In 2017, Shahnaz was the recipient of the Oslo Business for Peace Award2. In addition to her role as a social entrepreneur, Shahnaz was a professor at the National University of Singapore and also a media executive at Hearst Magazines.  READ MORE

IIX 12 Year Anniversary: Building Relief, Recovery, and Resilience


As we celebrate IIX’s 12th anniversary, we would like to share how we are building a new era of growth through three pillars: Relief, Recovery, and Resilience.

Businesses must not just survive the pandemic, but recover and have a lifeline to pivot their businesses so they’re able to adapt and thrive in the new norm. In addition to providing catalytic capital, capacity building and tools to adapt are necessary to ensure the capital is put to good use and help SMEs navigate through the challenging environment. To overcome the disadvantages faced by SMEs, it is pertinent for stakeholders to provide handholding support and lend women entrepreneurs a platform to relaunch and access national and international markets. Leveraging insights garnered from working with women entrepreneurs, IIX developed tailored toolkits and platforms across the growth stages of an enterprise that help them rebuild, pivot, and strengthen their business operations for a new business and economic environment.

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IIX 12 Year Anniversary: Building Relief, Recovery, and Resilience



As we celebrate IIX’s 12th anniversary, we would like to share how we are building a new era of growth through three pillars: Relief, Recovery, and Resilience.

Catalytic capital allows women entrepreneurs to survive natural shocks such as the on-going pandemic. However, it is important to have a resilient enterprise contributing to the economy’s growth and maximizing its impact on underserved communities, which an emergency capital infusion by itself cannot solve. The final stage of achieving gender equality is creating resilient enterprises by providing capital at timely intervals such that they can scale rapidly.

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IIX 12 Year Anniversary: Building Relief, Recovery, and Resilience


The pandemic has increased and will continue to increase the stress on the already fragile healthcare, education, and financial infrastructure which has affected the livelihoods of more than 65% of the rural population and over 100 million entrepreneurs just within Asia. Affordable healthcare, inclusive education, and social equality form the backbone of a resilient economy and have the power to catalyze recovery if we step up. 

As we celebrate IIX’s 12th anniversary, we would like to share how we are building a new era of growth through three pillars: Relief, Recovery, and Resilience.

The first step to #BuildingBackBetter is to ensure that SMEs survive the pandemic through immediate relief. From there, we can accelerate recovery through new financial instruments, and build true resilience by bringing women and ethnic minorities to the forefront of post-COVID growth.

Without supporting these SMEs, the world stands to suffer major setbacks in social and economic progress. However, with the right support, we can accelerate inclusive finance to sustain these businesses and enable them to rebuild the economy from the ground up.

In the coming year, IIX is excited to share new initiatives to drive urgently needed capital to SMEs, so that they can become engines of growth. Read on to learn more about IIX’s newly launched Emergency Financing Facility, and the story of one enterprise who, because of access to financing from the IEFF, will be able to help to provide livelihoods to women and farmers in Indonesia.

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Pakistan-based healthtech firm Sehat Kahani lands $1m in pre-series A round – Tech In Asia

Pakistan-based healthtech firm Sehat Kahani announced it has raised US$1 million in its pre-series A round from investors including the Islamic Development bank, 10Pearls Ventures, Mentors Fund, Korean Impact Collective Funds, and Impact Investment Exchange.

The round also saw participation from the Pakistan-based KASB Group of Companies and Din Group, along with other angel investors.

Sehat Kahani was launched in 2017 as a chain of telemedicine-enabled e-health clinics in underserved communities. Since then, its platform has been used by banks, insurance companies, telecom firms, media houses, pharmaceuticals, and fast-moving consumer goods companies. The firm also serves patients in far-flung areas through small nurse-assisted e-health clinics. READ MORE

Pakistan’s Sehat Kahani raises $1 million Pre-Series A to grow its telemedicine network – MENABytes

Karachi-headquartered telemedicine startup Sehat Kahani has raised $1 million in a Pre-Series A round, it announced today. The investment came from Islamic Development Bank, 10Pearls Ventures, Mentors Fund, Singapore-based Korean Impact Fund, and Impact Investment Exchange. KASB Securities, Din Group, and some angels also joined the round

Founded in 2017 by two female doctors, Sara Saeed Khurram and Iffat Zafar Aga, Sehat Kahani had started as a network to connect home-based female doctors to patients through telemedicine-enabled brick and mortar health clinics. The idea was to use a large number of female doctors who due to family commitments are unable to practice medicine at a hospital or clinic and connect them with patients in underserved communities through a network of nurse-assisted health clinics. READ MORE