Anyone who thinks one person cannot make a difference has not met Jessica Jackley.
Jackley saw a need, took action to meet that need and has had a stunning impact on countless people in Third World nations.
Since she was a small child, Jackley wanted to help the less fortunate, and she did so through her time and money, but it was not enough. Then she heard of micro-financing and her life took a decidedly different turn.
In 2005, Jackley co-founded Kiva, the world’s first peer-to-peer microlending website. Since then, Kiva has loaned out more than $275 million to people in 216 countries.
The loans are as small as $25, but are enough to change the course of someone’s life.
Jackley brought her message of providing a hand up, not a hand out to Kelowna as part of the Distinguished Speakers Series presented by the University of British Columbia’s Okanagan campus.
“There are so many people who have their hands in this,” Jackley told a full house at the Rotary Centre for the Arts Thursday evening. “It has been a very positive thing. There are some really talented people out there and when you invite them in some amazing things can happen.”
Jackley says positive change can be initiated by anyone in the world and the people who loan money to Kiva come from many of the same countries in which the money is loaned out to others.
“Sometimes the people we least expect can change things in the world,” says Jackley.
“Everyone has great potential. The problem is we don’t give ourselves credit that we could be the one making the change. Every person has the ability to change the world and make the world a better place to live.”
She admits to knowing little of the world of finance when launching Kiva, but her desire to help others help themselves prompted her to learn and she now holds an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of business and a bachelor of arts degree in philosophy and political science.
Jackley is also the co-founder and CEO of ProFounder.com, an organization that helps people fund and start up their own businesses. She is in charge of helping microenterprises in developing nations, while her business partner, Dana Mauriello, helps small family businesses in the US.
For more information on microlending and Kiva, go to www.kiva.org.