The IIX Story

Throughout her life, Professor Durreen Shahnaz experienced the unbearable gap between the worlds of finance and development. Durreen grew up in Bangladesh and the Philippines, and started her career as the first Bangladeshi woman investment banker on Wall Street. She knew the power of businesses and finance. With a desire to use finance for a better world, Durreen made a dive into working with the most underserved of micro-businesses with Grameen Bank. There, she witnessed the struggles of borrowers due to lack of access to markets, which motivated her to create OneNest, a global e-commerce company for local artisanal products, to empower micro-entrepreneurs with access to the global market.

During this time, Durreen experienced the difficulty of raising capital for a mission-driven business to scale. This experience would later inspire her.

While teaching Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy in Singapore, Durreen wrote about the need for investment to fuel businesses that were uplifting communities and leading to sustainable development. Her writings led her to meeting with the Rockefeller Foundation – a key influencer in the impact investing space, and the inspiration and foundational support for Durreen to take on a leadership role for impact investing in Asia.

At the height of the global financial crisis in 2009, as the world reflected on the true role of financial markets meant for human well-being, Durreen decided to launch herself into the unknown third space for global solutions.

In setting up IIX, Durreen conceptualized the world’s first social stock exchange, that would support businesses providing development solutions to scale successfully, and move impact investing from the margins to the mainstream of finance.

Since its founding, IIX has fostered the growth of the impact investing ecosystem in Asia, laying pipelines to connect the dots together with investors, entrepreneurs and innovators. IIX has mobilized more than $13 million worth of capital for development, generating $20 million in social value, and empowering over 10 million lives. Working to bring in new players for the space to thrive, IIX has empowered stakeholders in the public, private and non-profit sectors through rigorous advice and research, and continues to do so with thought leadership and knowledge management.

A year after IIX’s founding, its sister entity IIX Foundation, formerly known as Shujog, was set-up. IIX Foundation empowers marginalized people and protects the planet by scaling the positive impact of social innovators, through fostering growth, maturity and market readiness of Impact Enterprises and other social innovators.

As a recognition of IIX’s work globally, Durreen was awarded the prestigious Joseph Wharton Social Impact award in 2014, the Asia Society’s Asia Game Changer Awards in 2016 and the Oslo Business for Peace Award in 2017. IIX’s footprint now extends from Afghanistan to the Philippines, and continues to grow through its catalytic role in empowering disadvantaged communities with much-needed social and financial mobility, promoting growth and prosperity for all.

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