Durreen Shahnaz launches Asia's First Private Investment Platform for Social Enterprises

Singapore-based Durreen Shahnaz has used her pioneering IIX organisation to launch Impact Partners, a brand new investment facilitator for sustainable economic development in the region.

Durreen Shahnaz is committed to sustainable developments - using the power of the market to make it happen

Singapore, 18 May 2011. Durreen Shahnaz, IIX Founder and Chairman says the launch of the new platform, Impact Partners, will change the game for green investment in Asia.“This is an important day for the sustainable development area in Asia,” she says “IIX was created to use capital markets effectively to support social enterprises that have positive social and environmental impact in the region. Impact Partners is an important milestone in that endeavor.”

Shahnaz, who worked with a number of partners on the launch, says Impact Partners marks the start of a new phase in the Asian social enterprise sector, “where we can celebrate and embrace sustainable growth through these fantastic entities.”

Launched in Singapore, Shahnaz says Impact Partners is poised to introduce investors to a select group of pre-screened Asian social enterprises in sectors such as agriculture, clean technology, renewable energy, education, healthcare and microfinance.

Pasha Bhaktiar, Partner at Dubai based WillowTree fund, says his organisation’s mission is to make high impact investments. “So we are thrilled to be part of Impact Partners which will allow us to identify, assess and invest in social and environmental opportunities around Asia," he says.

Shahnaz set up IIX as a Social Enterprise (SE) with a mission to provide greater access to capital for other SEs in Asia-Pacific. Her aim was to allow them to grow more rapidly and expand their impact across the region, and after two years of planning, development and hundreds of field assessments, her organisation has launched Impact Partners.

Designed as a private, online platform operated by IIX, it is designed to introduce investors to a select group of pre-screened Asian SEs. These can, says Shahnaz, include both for-profit and not-for-profit entities with social missions in a range of sustainable sectors. Impact Partners is complemented by Shujog, the not-for-profit sister arm of IIX which focuses on impact assessment, advocacy and research.

Shahnaz points out that Shujog can work as a key contributor of impact assessments for SEs.

“Asia has 60 percent of the world's population and faces immense population density and heightened vulnerability to economic downturns, social upheaval and environmental degradation,” says Shahnaz. “We want to bring our new platform for access to investment capital, which can help SEs to grow more rapidly and help alleviate or reduce these problems.”

At present, Impact Partners has profiled an initial group of SEs from a range of Asian countries, including India, Bangladesh and Thailand, operating in sectors including organic agriculture, renewable energy and microfinance. One example is Excellent Renewable Energy, based in India. It focuses on creating bio-gas plants that meet the energy needs of the community, and at the same time raise awareness of clean and sustainable energy among the village community and investors.

Pranav Gadhia, Director of Excellent Renewable Energy says, “Our organisation has had a long relationship with Shahnaz’s IIX and Shujog. Together we've been able to set direction and a path for Excellent Renewable that should lead to scale and profitability, while maintaining our prime values of serving our community and our family of employees.”

Shahnaz is confident that SEs can provide innovative mission-driven solutions and offer investors the prospect of "triple bottom line" returns, creating social, environmental and financial value. She has obviously impressed some important people with her drive and conviction, as IIX has already received generous financial support for its work from the Rockefeller Foundation.

This came in the form of a grant supporting research and proof-of-concept analysis. IIX and Shujog have also benefitted from a Regional Research and Development Technical Assistance Program administered by the Asian Development Bank (ADB). Shahnaz is also working closely with Singapore government ministries (including the EDB) in establishing her organisations in Singapore.

Shahnaz is not stopping there, however. Impact Exchange, launching in early 2012, will be the world's first stock exchange focusing exclusively on SEs, where investors can purchase and trade shares and bonds issued by SEs. It looks like she is going to be busy.

Investors wishing to participate in what promises to be a new and exciting opportunity to evaluate, contact and invest in quality social enterprises should contact IIX for details on membership. Social enterprises seeking mission-aligned capital should also contact IIX. Both Investors and SEs can register and send their enquiries through www.impactpartners.asiaiix.com.

Photos: Internet sources