Sabhanaz Rashid Diya is a Bangladeshi writer and computational social scientist. Her work explores the intersection between technology, global development and economic policy. She spends time between Seattle, San Francisco and Dhaka.

Before moving to the US, in 2006, Sabhanaz founded the social enterprise, One Degree Initiative Foundation aiming to mentor 16-25-year-olds to develop public service innovations using technology. The organisation has implemented over 200 projects in Bangladesh that impacted nearly 1.2 million people and mentored over 15,000 young adults globally (65% of whom are women). Since ODIF, she has advised and worked with governments in Bangladesh, Indonesia, Pakistan, South Africa, Nigeria and the US on digital and economic inclusion, big data analytics and privacy-protective technology regulations for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, World Bank, US Agency for International Development, American Civil Liberty Union, US Department of Defence, and Google.

Diya has received numerous recognitions for her efforts, including Zonta International Award for Young Women in Public Affairs, YouthActionNet Laureate Global Fellow, One Young World Ambassador to Bangladesh, Ashoka Fellow, the Asia 21 Young Leader and US Department of State Young Leader in Politics and New Media. In 2013, the United States Government 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 recognised by the United Nations and seven female European and Latin American Ambassadors to Bangladesh for their efforts in promoting gender equity in the country.

Sabhanaz has also played an active role in Bangladesh’s startup ecosystem through organising the country’s first startup hackathon (Startup Weekend) and competitions. Following its success and surge of the startup industry, she co-founded InHouse, the country’s first co-working and collaboration space for small, mission-first businesses. She is a Social Entrepreneurship Fellow at INSEAD and TEDx speaker in Dhaka.

Sabhanaz actively writes for national and international publications on technology and global development. She spent 14 years at The Daily Star as a reporter, then sub-editor and columnist. Her writings and interviews have been published in WIRED, Berkeley Public Policy Journal, The Huffington Post, Al Jazeera, Dhaka Tribune, The Daily Prothom Alo, The Daily Sun, The Daily Ittefaq and Youth Ki Awaaz. In 2010, she was awarded the Foundry Photojournalism Scholarship in Memory of Alexandra Boulat for her photojournalism.

She has a Bachelors in Economics and Film Studies from Independent University, Bangladesh, and a Masters in Public Policy (focusing on data science and technology policy) from University of California, Berkeley.

Photo: INSEAD School of Business