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Jessica Jackley, Author & Entrepreneur


Jessica Jackley in East Africa

Jessica Jackley is a Founder and former Chief Marketing Officer of KIVA, the world’s first peer to peer micro-lending website. KIVA lets users lend as little as $25 to poor entrepreneurs around the world, providing affordable capital for them to start or expand micro-enterprises. Named one of the top ideas of 2006 by The New York Times Magazine, and praised by Oprah, Bill Clinton and countless others, KIVA is one of the fastest-growing social benefit websites in history. Jackley was also recently praised by Forbes , named as one of 5 rising stars in Healthcare, Education, and the Environment. Jackley also stars in a viral 2012 Best Buy television commercial about how her first laptop helped her start KIVA. Jackley is the recipient of the 2012 Symons Innovator Award, which recognizes the importance of women’s participation in technology innovation and business. Since its founding in 2005, KIVA has loaned over $800 million from lenders to entrepreneurs across 206 countries.

For all its success, KIVA remains focused on a simple mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty, one person at a time.

Jackley was also a founder and CEO of ProFounder, which joined forces with GOOD in 2012 to create innovative tools and experiences for entrepreneurs to crowd fund. Jackley first saw the power and dignity of micro-finance while working in East Africa with a micro-enterprise
non-profit. Convinced that social change happens across all sectors, Jackley has worked in public, nonprofit, and private organizations including the Stanford Center for Social Innovation, Amazon.com, Potentia Media and many others. Jessica currently serves as a Venture Partner with the Collaborative Fund, focused on investing in creative entrepreneurs who want to change the world through emerging technologies. She is also a director of the board for Habitat for Humanity and is a Visiting Practitioner at Stanford University’s Center for Philanthropy and Civil Society. Also an educator, Jackley was Barer Visiting Fellow at Drew University, taught Global Entrepreneurship at the Marshall School of Business at USC, and lectures frequently at other universities around the country. She holds an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business and a BA in Philosophy and Political  Science, and serves as an active advisor and board member on several organizations championing women, micro-finance, tech, and the arts.

With expertise in a wide range of timely issues, from economic development to women’s empowerment to Web 2.0, she reminds us that, at the heart of social entrepreneurship, the relationships we form with each other and the extent to which we believe in each others’ potential are the most powerful forces for positive change.

Jackley has published a  book about her entrepreneurial journey, and the lessons learned along the way from entrepreneurs in unexpected places—the goat herders, seamstresses, farmers, you name it. Her book, published by Penquin Random house, is  CLAY WATER BRICK: Finding Inspiration from Entrepreneurs Who Do the Most with the Least. 

Jessica, who is a trained yoga instructor and practitioner, is a Christian married to Iranian-American Reza Aslan, the noted religious scholar, TV Commentator, and bestselling author, who describes himself as both a Sufi Muslim and follower of the teachings of Jesus. (At the core of Sufism is the believe that God exists in all things.) They have three young sons and a miniature poodle and
live in Los Angeles.

 

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