social change | May 09, 2013

Find Your Voice: Social Change Speaker Jessica Jackley On Entrepreneurship

Every day, social change speaker Jessica Jackley wakes up and asks herself, "now what?" As the co-founder of the nonprofit microloaning site Kiva, Jackley provided a platform for entrepreneurs all over the world to receive the financial assistance they needed to lift themselves out of poverty. It wasn't a seamless journey, however, and there were many bumps in the road. But she says it's important to start each day thinking about what you can do better—instead of dwelling on what might not have gone perfectly. That's why she tells budding entrepreneurs to put something out there, and start the wheels in motion.

That's what she has been doing since she left Kiva—finding her voice and trying to make a difference with every venture she takes on. Despite being a a difficult decision to move on from the organization she help build, Jackley says it was a positive move in the right direction. "So much of my life was built into this dream. I wanted to see if I could do something valuable a second time, maybe even a third or fourth," she explains in an interview with the Stanford School of Business. "It was a sobering and beautiful realization to think there were other people who could care for and nurture the organization. The decision to leave also helped me to put work in its right place. It had become so much of my identity."

Jackley's newest project is as a venture partner at Collaborative Fund. The firm invests in technology companies that enable collaborative consumption. It's fitting, then, that she calls the "proliferation of mobile technology" one of the greatest innovations of the past decade. And, also why she would support an organization geared toward expanding the role of technology to bring people together. "You can be in the middle of nowhere, but your cellphone works," Jackley says. "I have met individuals who have never left their village but have a cellphone, and they use it to access money and information and connect to other people." Jackley says that she is constantly looking for the next big thing. It's important to "find your voice," in whatever you do, she adds. "This means expressing something about you and what you believe. It is the first step toward doing valuable action in the world." In her enlightening and practical talks, Jackley draws on personal experiences to show audiences how to do just that. And, how to achieve their goals of making the world a better place.

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