Durreen Shahnaz is a global leader of social impact and impact investing, and the founder of Impact Investment Exchange (IIX) and IIX Foundation. Over the past three decades, her mission has been to build a more inclusive, sustainable world by transforming financial markets and bringing underserved women to the forefront of capital markets. Drawing on a rich career as an active pioneer, researcher, educator, and serial social entrepreneur, Shahnaz’s work has helped thousands of entrepreneurs, investors, governments and impact stakeholders around the world to play a role in sustainable development and women’s empowerment, while mobilizing hundreds of millions in private capital towards the Sustainable Development Goals and impacting millions of women’s lives. Through her bold approach, IIX has created many ‘firsts’ in the impact economy: the world’s first social stock exchange, the world’s first and largest crowdfunding platform for impact investing (Impact Partners), and innovative financial structures such as the Women’s Livelihood Bond (WLB1)—the world’s first listed impact investing instrument reporting social and financial returns, as well as the world’s first listed financial product focused on women. IIX will soon be launching the WLB 2 which will unlock US$100m of private sector capital to impact one million women across Asia. IIX is also set to launch IIX Values, its new technology-driven impact measurement and management platform that aims to radically transform the way voices of the end-beneficiaries are given a value in the financial markets at scale.
With a career that has spanned the globe, Shahnaz has built a track record as a successful social entrepreneur, banker, media executive and academic at 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 online marketplace for handmade goods. oneNest was sold to Novica United, working in association with National Geographic Society. Through these roles, Shahnaz has broken down walls and built bridges in order to connect the backstreets of underserved communities to the Wall Streets of the world.
Shahnaz’s pioneering contributions to impact measurement and social entrepreneurship have now become industry-wide benchmarks and references. She advised and supported the development of the Impact Reporting and Investment Standards (IRIS), the generally accepted performance metrics for impact investors. During her time as an Adjunct Associate Professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, Shahnaz created and spearheaded the Program for Social Innovation and Change. As part of her research, Shahnaz created the proprietary Impact Assessment methodology, that is now the most widely used impact methodology in Asia. She has authored several research and advisory papers, including one on the topic of social enterprises in Asia, which was published in Stanford Social Innovation Review. Shahnaz has taught graduate and executive level courses on “Frontiers of Social Innovation” to build greater understanding of CSR, Social Enterprise and Impact Investing in the region, and continues to educate the next generation of leaders through executive level courses on impact investing, innovative finance, and impact measurement at IIX’s Impact Institute.
Shahnaz is the recipient of the 2017 Oslo Business for Peace Award, often referred to as the “Nobel Peace Prize for Business,” and was awarded the 2016 Asia Game Changer Award by the Asia Society in addition to the prestigious Joseph Wharton Social Impact Award in 2014 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. Shahnaz holds a BA from Smith College; a joint degree – MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and an MA from the School for Advanced International Studies at John Hopkins University.