social entrepreneur . writer . economist . mother

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Sabhanaz Rashid Diya is a writer, economist and social entrepreneur based in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Besides writing for various national and international publications, she has written for The Daily Star, the leading English language newspaper in Bangladesh for nearly 15 years and published two books. Her photographs have been exhibited globally, and she was awarded dispatches Foundry Photojournalism Scholarship in Memory of Alexandra Boulat in 2010.

In 2006, Sabhanaz founded the nonprofit youth organization, One Degree Initiative Foundation (1di.org) aiming to mentor young people – aged 16 to 25 – to transform their ideas to actions. With an emphasis on public service innovations through education, technology and social entrepreneurship, the organizaton has implemented over 100 projects in Bangladesh, that has impacted approximately 1 million lives in the country and engaged 15,000 youth globally. Through her organization, Sabhanaz has not only empowered youth, but has inspired more women to take leadership roles in different industries.   She was awarded the Zonta International Award for Young Women in Public Affairs, YouthActionNet (Laureate) Global Fellowship, One Young World Ambassador to Bangladesh and the Asia 21 Young Leaders’ Class of 2013-14. She also represented her organization at  Harvard University for the Harvard Project for Asian and International Relations, 350.org and the 2012 Asia 21 Young Leaders’ Summit. In 2013, the US Department of State awarded Sabhanaz and the One Degree Initiative Foundation for their exemplary efforts in supporting the victims of Rana Plaza collapse of April 2013. In 2014, the One Degree Initiative Foundation was recognized by seven female European and Latin American Ambassadors to Bangladesh and the United Nations for their efforts in promoting the cause of women in the country.

In 2013, Sabhanaz took a lead role in organizing Bangladesh’s first startup competition, the Startup Weeekend Dhaka that has globally inspired hundreds of thousands of young entrepreneurs. Since the success of the competition, the startup ecosystem has grown rampantly leading onto her organization initiating efforts to create the first sustainable model to gear entrepreneurs towards successful and effective as well as socially driven startups. She was selected as a Fellow for INSEAD’s Social Entrepreneurship Programme in France and a TEDx speaker in Dhaka.

Sabhanaz completed her Bachelors in Communication (Film and Art Studies) and Economics from Independent University, Bangladesh. She is currently pursuing her Master of Public Policy and Graduate Certificate in Technology for Development at University of California at Berkeley (UC Berkeley). She currently contributes for The Huffington Post, and leads the International Public Policy Group and Policy Consultancy Group for International Development at the Goldman School of Public Policy at UC Berkeley.

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