Jessica Jackley on Poverty, Love and Making a $150 Million Difference

By Kris Deichler, Associate Partner, Lighthouse International

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”

- Proverb

You might not know who Jessica Jackley is, but you may have heard of her organisation KIVA. Inspired by Muhammad Yunus, Ms Jackley started the online crowdfunding website that provides financial services to poor people all around the world, helping to empower them out of poverty. In its first 5 years KIVA went from providing 7 small loans to help small businesses in Uganda, raised through friends and family, to providing more than $150 million in small $25 loans.

Choosing to Be Part of the Solution

This all started after Ms Jackley became frustrated with the constant requests to give to good causes and organisations, not knowing where the money went and even beginning to resent it. She felt she was giving because of guilt, not genuine possibility and hope. I’m sure we can all relate to this in some way. What Jessica Jackley did that’s most inspiring though is she decided to proactively see what she could do directly, rather than sit back and complain.

A Change In Perspective Makes a World of Difference

In a 3 month visit to Africa, she interviewed people who had received small loans to grow small businesses. Hearing their stories and seeing the difference it makes when you give people the means to improve their life, rather than keeping them dependent on hand-outs changed her whole outlook on how to help the poor. That change in outlook - seeing what was really happening and what was possible - is what drove her to build KIVA. Imagine how many lives have been transformed by that one change in her outlook.

Use Your Passion to Make Things Happen

What’s even more inspiring is the TED talk Ms Jackley gave about how passionate she has become through this and what it’s meant to her to see the real impact and changes KIVA has been able to make. Imagine what changes in perspective could do for you?

Have you ever had a big change in outlook or perspective that’s changed what you thought was possible?

Share in the comments as it could help and inspire others...

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