Sabhanaz Rashid Diya is a Bangladeshi writer and social scientist based in Seattle, Washington. Her research explores ‘big data’ analytics to respond to questions in development economics, and is deeply passionate about developing evidence-driven policies to impact the world’s bottom billion. She currently is a Fellow at Strategy, Data and Analytics at Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Before moving to the US, in 2006, Sabhanaz founded the social enterprise, One Degree Initiative Foundation ( aiming to mentor young people – aged 16 to 25 – to develop public service innovations using technology and education. The organization has implemented over 200 projects in Bangladesh that impacted nearly 1.2 million people and mentored over 15,000 young adults 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, 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, Startup Weeekend Dhaka that has globally inspired hundreds of thousands of young entrepreneurs. Since the success of the competition, the technology-based startup ecosystem has grown rampantly with many of her organization’s beneficiaries starting their own businesses and social enterprises. 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 Film Studies and Economics from Independent University, Bangladesh, and her Masters in Public Policy (with an emphasis on computational social science) at at University of California at Berkeley.

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. She has written for WIRED, The Huffington Post and The Daily Star in Bangladesh.

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Photo (top): INSEAD School of Business
Photo (in-text): TEDx Youth @ ISD