Shahnaz wins Business for Peace award
Durreen Shahnaz, a Bangladeshi and founder of Singapore-based impact enterprise Impact Investment Exchange (IIX) and IIX Foundation, has been selected as a 2017 Business for Peace Award honoree for her commitment to promoting an evolved form of capitalism that values both financial returns and positive social and environmental impact.
Durreen is the third Bangladeshi to receive the award after Latifur Rahman, chairman and CEO of Transcom Group in 2012, and Selima Ahmad, vice chairperson of Nitol-Niloy Group in 2014.
IIX has effectively created a social capital market in Asia over the last eight years, connecting investment to development and unlocking millions of dollars for high-impact enterprises, which in turn have left its mark on more than eight million lives.
A daughter of a former top civil bureaucrat in Bangladesh, Durreen was the first Bangladeshi woman to work on Wall Street and to graduate from the renowned Wharton School of Business.
Her first entrepreneurial venture was in 1999 when she began oneNest, an e-commerce company that connected rural artisans across the world to an online global marketplace.
After growing and selling oneNest, she continued her pursuit of sustainable growth and equitable markets by founding IIX and creating not only the world's first social stock exchange but also a global ecosystem and various innovative financial structures and capital-raising platforms to support the growth of impact investing.
Under Durreen's leadership, IIX continues to be a pioneering force and leader in the impact investing space that pushes the boundaries of innovation when it comes to involving players from the private, public, and philanthropic sectors in solving today's most pressing issues.
Durreen on the IIX website says, “If we are going to achieve an equitable and peaceful society, it is imperative for us to have a financial system that is inclusive and works for all. Thus, crazy as it may have been, I committed myself eight years ago to revolutionising capital markets to promote equal and sustainable growth worldwide.
“It was a 'quixotic dream' equivalent to boiling the ocean of financial change. Well, that quixotic dream is a reality now and that ocean is lukewarm, so we are definitely getting there!”
The 2017 Oslo Business for Peace Award honours exceptional individuals who are able to ethically create economic value while generating value for society.
Recipients are selected by a committee of Nobel prize winners and past award recipients including Sir Richard Branson of Virgin (2014), Ratan Tata of Tata Group (2010), Mo Ibrahim of Mo Ibrahim Foundation (2009), and Paul Polman of Unilever (2015).
This year, the four honorees including Durreen, will be presented at an award ceremony on May 16 in Oslo City Hall, the same location as that of the Nobel peace prize ceremony.
The Bangladeshi awardee on the IIX website said, “Impact Investing has been growing rapidly in recent years and I am honored to be recognised as an innovator at the forefront of this movement.
“I view this award as a celebration of both the progress we have made to date as well as an encouragement to continue to dedicate myself and IIX to this mission and impact 100 million lives by 2020 by changing finance and financing change for social and environmental good.”
Earlier, Durreen was accorded Joseph Wharton Award for Social Impact in 2015.
In a career spanning over two decades, she has built a track record as a successful academic, banker, media executive and social entrepreneur. She began her professional career as an investment banker at Morgan Stanley in New York, followed by stints at Grameen Bank in Dhaka, World Bank in Washington and Merrill Lynch in Hong Kong.
She also founded the Programme for Social Innovation and Change at Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore.