The Defiant Optimist: Daring to Fight Global Inequality, Reinvent Finance, and Invest in Women

  • 8h 7m 27s
  • Durreen Shahnaz
  • Recorded Books, Inc.
  • 2023

Global inequality is growing. Financial markets disenfranchise women, the 99 percent, and the planet itself. But what if we found the source of power and turned it inside out? What if we made the tools of the system available to all?

From growing up with constrained life chances, to working as the first Bangladeshi woman on Wall Street, to becoming a global leader in impact investing, Shahnaz takes us on a mesmerizing trek of innovation, compassion, and enterprise. We accompany her to villages in Bangladesh where she helps women entrepreneurs learn to proudly sign their names, and on visits to venture capitalists who walk past her to shake her male employees' hands. We go to a garment factory where women labor for low wages, and to a town in India where microfinance offers women enough capital to run grocery stores and tailor shops. Along the way, the birth of her two daughters only fuels her relentless pursuit of a world where girls are valued. Finally, armed with financial backers and a plan, Shahnaz crafts the world's first tradeable financial product geared toward investing in underserved women's livelihoods.

The Defiant Optimist offers strategies for placing women, the underserved, and the planet at the heart of systems. Together we can locate the levers of power and pull them defiantly in a new direction.

About the Author

Durreen Shahnaz has worked both in high finance on Wall Street and in microfinance in the back streets of rural Bangladesh. Following stints as an investment banker, development worker, educator, media executive, and social entrepreneur, Shahnaz founded a pioneering impact investment firm that brings together investors, development agencies, and entrepreneurs to advance sustainable development and empower millions of women. Shahnaz is on the Forbes "50 over 50" list and received the 2017 Oslo Business for Peace Award, often referred to as the Nobel Prize for Business. Shahnaz holds degrees from Smith College, the University of Pennsylvania, and Johns Hopkins University. She and her husband have two daughters and live in Singapore.

In this Audiobook

  • Chapter 1 - Being a Girl
  • Chapter 2 - Tea with Soldiers
  • Chapter 3 - The Meaning of Independence
  • Chapter 4 - Should and Should Not
  • Chapter 5 - Defying the Status Quo
  • Chapter 6 - Rebel with a Cause
  • Chapter 7 - Where Power Lives
  • Chapter 8 - Off to Wall Street
  • Chapter 9 - Balancing between Two Worlds
  • Chapter 10 - Cross the Bridge
  • Chapter 11 - When a Woman Signs Her Name
  • Chapter 12 - Build Your Own Bridge
  • Chapter 13 - Toward a Global Marketplace
  • Chapter 14 - Who Will Put the Equity in Equity?
  • Chapter 15 - A Growth Mindset
  • Chapter 16 - The Day Papers Fell from the Sky
  • Chapter 17 - Things Fall Apart
  • Chapter 18 - Belonging
  • Chapter 19 - Something to Fight For
  • Chapter 20 - New Systems, from Scratch
  • Chapter 21 - The Meaning of Impact
  • Chapter 22 - Build a New Model
  • Chapter 23 - Another One Bites the Dust
  • Chapter 24 - The Phoenix Rises
  • Chapter 25 - Put One Foot in Front of the Other
  • Chapter 26 - Invest in Women
  • Chapter 27 - Find Strength in Friends and Allies
  • Chapter 28 - Make Their Weapons Your Tools
  • Chapter 29 - Be Inspired by Those Who Went Before
  • Chapter 30 - Stay True to the Vision
  • Commitments of the Defiant Optimist