The Lavin Agency Speakers Bureau

A speakers bureau that represents the best original thinkers,
writers, and doers for speaking engagements.

Simple Ideas and Social Action: KIVA’s Jessica Jackley is a Buick Agent of Change

“Simple ideas are often overlooked,” says Jessica Jackley, a social entrepreneur speaker who has just been named one of the 2012 Buick Agents of Change. Jackley is the co-founder of the microlending powerhouse KIVA, where she turned a simple idea (lending developing world entrepreneurs the exact amount of money they need, say, $25) into a thriving institution promoting social good.

Since its inception in 2005, KIVA has connected entrepreneurs with lenders from all around the world. Beginning with a laptop and only seven employees, Jackley helped create links between over 4 million borrowers and lenders and helped facilitate the exchange of nearly $1 Billion in loans. The renowned social entrepreneur pairs her keen business sense with an insatiable desire to incite positive change—a winning mix that has made her a sought-after speaker with both corporations and small college business classes alike. 

“The main barrier [to social change] is collectively believing that more is possible, and collectively choosing to pursue those best ideas,” Jackley says in the Buick video series, above.

Her peer-to-peer platform, and her ambitious keynotes do just that—promoting the role that even the smallest idea can play in turning entrepreneurial vision into a successful business and, in turn, making the world a better place.

Jessica Jackley’s Latest Venture, ProFounder, is All About Capital

Gathering up venture capital for your brilliant idea just got a lot easier thanks to another brilliant idea from Jessica Jackley. The founder of Kiva, the foremost microlending website letting users lend as little as $25 to entrepreneurs in developing nations, is at it again with ProFounder. The service collects and organizes capital from entrepreneurs ponying up as little as $1,000. This model works with the understanding that upstart projects are predominantly funded by creators' families and friends—a process that has its pitfalls and confusion. ProFounder (which Jackley co-runs with Dana Mauriello) simplifies everything to make sure there's no tension and lots of cash flow. It also looks like they're moving quickly toward success.

From Wired:

In the six months since its launch, ProFounder has raised almost $500,000 from 304 investors for 18 companies. One such company is Cubic Motors, a stealth startup developing an electric motorcycle (above). Cofounder Marc Fenigstein needed money for a prototype to show angel investors, but for intellectual-property reasons couldn't go public with designs. So with ProFounder he asked friends and family for $1,000 of investment each in exchange for a share of revenues. It took just 16 replies to raise the capital.

“Eighty-seven percent of all funding in the US that goes to private businesses every year comes from friends and family,” says 28-year-old Mauriello. “We're taking what's happening online and making it less expensive and more convenient.” ProFounder currently operates only in the US, but Jackley says the model “is going to be something we can perpetuate far and wide”. The company itself has $1.35 million in seed funding, raised more conventionally. “Unfortunately,” says Jackley, “we didn't have our platform built then.”

Jessica Jackley, always on the cutting edge on online business innovation, is a bright, energetic, and unapologetically optimistic speaker. She reveals the power of business to change the world and offers a refreshing keynote relevant to any firm, from not-for-profits to Fortune 100s.

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No Handouts: Kiva Co-founder Jessica Jackley Talks About Poverty, Money, and Love

In her recent TED Talk, the wonderfully upbeat Jessica Jackley explains the motivations that led her to start KIVA, and tells us why the unique connections created between lenders and lendees separates microfinance from traditional charity. What makes microfinance different? Respect and love. Jessica explains that people living in poverty are not just looking for handouts. They simply want the same power that we so often take for granted: the ability to borrow money to build something bigger. When we give not only money, but also love, we just might be able to “make tomorrow better than today.” From co-founding KIVA to launching ProFounder (her new crowdsouring project for small U.S. businesses), Jessica Jackley stands proudly at the forefront of today’s social entrepreneur speakers.

Read more about keynote speaker Jessica Jackley