social change | April 23, 2013

Why "Blindly Donating Money" Doesn't Work: Jessica Jackley's College Keynote

A lecture given by Doctor Muhammad Yunus, a Bangladeshi economist, turned social change speaker Jessica Jackley's career path completely on its head. As she told Doane College students in a new keynote speech, she was inspired to start after hearing him speak. "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." That's when Jackley decided that microloans were a beneficial way of helping those in need build sustainable futures for themselves. Emily Alfs, a freshman at the college, told the school paper that this point really resonated with her. "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."

Madison Greif, also a freshman who saw Jackley speak, said the social entrepreneur's vision was inspiring, and that she learned a lot about the capacity to make social change in more effective ways than simply donating money. Jackley told the students that despite it not being her initial goal when she went into college, she has found tremendous fulfillment from her work at Kiva and other social ventures. While she has moved on from her role at Kiva (which she co-founded), Jackley is still an active part of the social entrepreneurial sector. Currently, she is a Barer Visiting Fellow at Drew University, and has also taught Global Entrepreneurship at the Marshall School of Business at USC and other campuses nationwide.

In her lectures, as well as her other presentations, Jackley explores the power of business to enact positive social changes. Her advice to the potential social entrepreneurs in this college keynote was to have a clearly defined mission statement, and to be honest, empathetic and collaborative. With applications ranging from new entrepreneurs, small non-profit organizations, to large-scale for-profit companies, Jackley provides powerful new business strategies than can help your bottom line—and others in the process.