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“Loans that Change Lives” with Jessica Jackley – an SAP Intern’s Perspective

Email from SAPsv, this ought to be good.

My brain automatically categorizes those messages as High Importance.

Palo Alto…Café 1…TED speaker? I’m in!

I immediately open the .ics file and click Add to Calendar.

Jessica Jackley – sounds familiar. Kiva? – Is that one of those new sugar supplements? Oh, it’s a pioneer in crowdsourced microfinancing? Let’s check it out.

Day of the Event:

What started as an interest in seeing a notable public speaker, soon became an introduction to the concept of microfinancing and a catalyst for wanting to do something. The journey Jessica Jackley endured in starting Kiva Microfunds – which I learned is a nonprofit organization funding low-income and underserved entrepreneurs around the globe – is not only an inspirational recounting of a time in her life but, beyond that, a tangible call-to-action. Starting with nothing, literally nothing since she quit her job to go intern at a nonprofit in Africa, Jessica shared how Kiva’s founding mission, “to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty”, grew as a response to the stories of the businessmen and women she met while serving.


Audience listening intently – myself included

From these stories, Jessica and fellow humanitarian Matt Flannery, who would later become Kiva’s first CEO, learned that some of these businesses only needed a small investment to start growing, and the microfinance project called Kiva was born!

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Jessica Jackley on stage with Roger Quinlan

What made her story so impactful was its total lack of the façade of the perfect start-up narrative. Jessica and her fellow co-founders made mistakes. They didn’t know what exactly they were doing. They rolled with the punches and evolved the plan as obstacles approached. What they did have was a targeted, defined goal – help these seven individuals get the money they needed to begin growing their businesses. It was this simple mission in 2005 that led to the Kiva Microfunds organization as we know it today, with over 1.3 million lenders serving 82 countries and projected to generate over $1 billion in loans within the next few years.

I left “Loans That Change Lives ~ SAP Talk with Kiva Co-Founder Jessica Jackley” empowered; rewarded with not only the opportunity to listen to an amazing speaker but, the encouragement that anything I wanted I really could make happen. An image that stuck with me for the rest of the day and hopefully will for the rest of my life was imbedded in a saying Jessica shared at the conclusion of her talk. While her version was much more eloquent than my rendition, it will serve it justice. The message was this – a path doesn’t form until people start taking it.Could there be a more inspirational message to kick off SAP’s Month of Service?

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Data Visualization of Kiva loan activity

from 2005 to 2011


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It has been my goal and passion over the years to share stories of the entrepreneurs I’ve met with honesty, integrity, and transparency.

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Photos by Rohit Kapoor

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