Jessica Jackley

Founder of Kiva.org Jessica Jackley speaks to Doane students about microloans in Heckman Auditorium.

Social entrepreneur Jessica Jackley, the co-founder of Kiva: a non-profit organization that provides microloans to poor entrepreneurs, spoke at Doane Tuesday.

Jackley said her inspiration came from a lecture she attended by Doctor Muhammad Yunus, a Bangladeshi economist. During his lecture, she said she felt that three points were important to her concerning the type of service she wanted to do. The first was that micro financing, giving out small loans to allow entrepreneurs to start their business, was more effective than free will donation. Second, Yunus said there was a cycle of poverty in poor countries; its people are constantly in debt to the local money lenders. Third, Yunus spoke of these people as hard-working individuals instead of poor.

“He told people that if they wanted to help, they needed to go and get to know these people,” Jackley said. “Just blindly donating money wasn’t what these people needed.”

Jackley said the people who were helped on kiva.org were known as $100 entrepreneurs because that was the average loan amount they needed to get their businesses off the ground.

Jackley said being a social entrepreneur wasn’t what she had planned in college, but it ended up being the perfect job for her.

“Being a social entrepreneur is about developing new things for the benefit of a larger group,” Jackley said.

Jackley said aspiring social entrepreneurs must know their mission, be empathetic, co-create, be honest and always improve upon what they already had.

Freshman Madison Greif said she learned from Jackley.

“I hadn’t thought that using service that way also made you an entrepreneur,” Greif said. “It was really interesting to see how she mixed business and service.”

Freshman Emily Alfs said she was impressed with the idea of Kiva.

“We always hear about donating to save a child’s life and it makes people feel guilty for what they have,” Alfs said. “With Kiva, you loan out the money and it’s repaid to you. It’s a new, interesting way for people to help underprivileged people.”

After founding Kiva in 2005, Jackley moved on with her work. She is currently a venture partner with the Collaborative Fund, which focuses on helping creative entrepreneurs create new technology. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and twin sons.

Any person willing to provide at least $25 can go to kiva.org and find an individual that needs a loan to help start their business. Most of the entrepreneurs farm, fish or herd in poor countries.