Durreen Shahnaz, a Bangladeshi-American entrepreneur and founder of Impact Investment Exchange (IIX) and Shujog, received the Asia Game Changer Award for her pioneering work in changing the game for millions through impact investing.
Launched by the Asia Society in 2014, the Asia Game Changer Awards has identified and honoured key leaders who are making a transformative and positive difference for the future of Asia and the world. This year, Durreen Shahnaz is among nine honorees recognised for their inspiring work and tireless spirit in bringing solutions to global development.
As the first Bangladeshi woman to work on Wall Street, and to attend the Wharton School of Business, Durreen is a veteran when it comes to pioneering steps for a positive difference. In 1999, when e-commerce was still a relatively new concept, Durreen ran and eventually sold her first Internet company oneNest - a New York-based enterprise which empowered thousands of rural artisans by connecting them to an online global marketplace.
Her first entrepreneurial experience taught her a most important lesson: Impact-driven enterprises suffer a dire lack of access to capital, despite growing investor interest in double and triple bottom line returns. Without capital to grow their business, the scalability of their positive impact becomes curtailed.
Prompted by the Rockefeller Foundation, Durreen set out to meet this challenge. Durreen founded two companies in Singapore- Impact Investment Exchange (IIX) and Shujog, with a mission to transform the way capital markets work - to move beyond profit maximizing and into impact maximizing. IIX went on to create the world’s first regional social stock market - Impact Exchange - that leverages the power of finance by unlocking new capital for social impact investment.
“We have improved livelihoods for women and men throughout Asia, expanding market linkages, often in remote areas. And, all of this has been accomplished not through charity but through impact investments, effectively bringing the marginalised into the global economy by making finance work for them to create a path to self-determination,” said Durreen in her acceptance speech at the Asia Game Changer Awards dinner and celebration.
Soon to enter its ninth year now, IIX and its non-profit sister organization Shujog continue to innovate and to build the impact investing ecosystem by melding the worlds of finance and development, and bringing key ecosystem players into the space.
“If we want the world to be a more equitable place and to meet the Sustainable Development Goals, we will have to focus on changing the paradigm so that the market more effectively delivers prosperity to all,” Durreen added.
Over the past three years, the Asia Society has identified and honoured 28 influential leaders who are making a positive contribution to the future of Asia. On the honor roll of the Asia Game Changer Awards include Chinese business magnate and philanthropist Jack Ma and Filipino boxer and activist Manny Pacquiao.
IIX enables greater access to investment capital for mission-driven enterprises, allowing them to rapidly expand the positive impact of their activities. IIX now offers three investment platforms – Impact Accelerator™, Impact Partners™ and Impact Exchange™. Impact Accelerator™ provides seed-stage SEs with mentorship and private capital through a structured and customized process. Impact Partners™ connects accredited impact investors to selected growth-stage impact enterprises who are looking to raise investment capital.
IIX bridges the gap between finance and development, connecting capital with greater purpose and drive investments for social good. As a leading pioneer of impact investing in Asia, we build pathways to connect the Wall Streets of the world with the backstreets of underserved communities.
We are here to achieve sustainable development and equitable growth through working with investors and entrepreneurs to raise capital, empowering our stakeholders with rigorous advice and research for sound actions and pushing the impact investing space from the margins to the mainstream. IIX is based in Singapore.
Impact Exchange™, the world’s first social stock exchange operated by the Stock Exchange of Mauritius in collaboration with IIX, is a regulated stock exchange dedicated to listing and trading securities issued by mature impact enterprises and other mission-driven organisations. To date, IIX has facilitated nearly $12 million of investment impacting more than 10 million people across Asia with nearly $20 million in social value created.