social change | May 05, 2013

Jessica Jackley On Successful Social Entrepreneurship [VIDEO]

What makes a social entrepreneur different than other entrepreneurs? That was the lead-in question asked of social change speaker Jessica Jackely at The Duke Colloquium: Intellectual Curiosity and the Professional Life event. The Co-Founder of Kiva recently visited the school to give a presentation and participate in a workshop. The event was geared toward helping students incorporate human values into the work they plan to do after graduation. For those interested in entering the world of social entrepreneurship, Jackley says the focus should be on creating value—just like in any other startup. However, the difference lies in who are you creating value for. You aren't creating something of value for people who will become paying customers to your enterprise, she says. You need to think about value creation more broadly, she explains, and go beyond appealing only to those who will directly pay for your services.

No matter what your mission is, however, Jackley stresses the importance of being specific about who you are trying to serve and what you want to accomplish. Saying you want to be an entrepreneur without knowing who you want to serve and how you're going to achieve that is a bit like saying you want to win a gold medal in the Olympics without knowing which sport you want to excel in, Jackley says. That's why it's key to be disciplined and specific. She also touched on how to juggle having a clear social vision coupled with the desire to make profit. "I don't think having a double bottom line means there has to be a conflict," Jackley adds. "But I do think you have to prioritize those goals." Doing good and achieving business success aren't necessarily two opposing ideals. However, you have to know when to focus on which part of the business. If you can, Jackley says you can become extremely profitable—as evidenced by other startups who have done so successfully.

In her presentations, Jackley shares the valuable business lessons she's learned from her time transforming Kiva into the successful micro-lending platform it is today. The connection that exists between two people is a poweful agent for social change, she believes. When you harness your abilities with someone else's—you can truly change the world. And, you can be successful no matter what your business model is or what cause you are committed to.