social change | January 16, 2013

Changing The Poverty Rhetoric: Social Change Speaker Jessica Jackley [VIDEO]

Growing up, Jessica Jackley says that any story about the poor made her feel like solving the problem of poverty was impossible. Further, none of the pitches she was given about how to help those in need really spoke to her. As she explains in a new keynote, she felt that she was given "very strange call[s] to action." On the one hand you were provided with staggering statistics about the fact that half of the world's population lives on around a dollar a day. Then, you would be told: "don't worry about it, just donate the cost of a cup of coffee and it will all work out."  The traditional calls to eradicate poverty would say that you could do a little, and then move on with your life.

However, Jackley wanted to be an important part of someone else's life rather than a faceless donator. She didn't want to just give a few bucks here and there. She wanted to change the world—and she wanted to do it in connection with other people. Which is exactly why she founded KIVA. "We need to be building tools and participating in projects that allow us to respond with respect and remind us what we have in common," she explains. Her microfinance model at KIVA allows lenders to see the borrower turn their loan into something meaningful. The loaner forges a deeper connection with a person in another part of the world and becomes tuned in to their story. KIVA has become wildly successful and has given out over $300 million dollars in micro loans to entrepreneurs trying to lift themselves out of poverty.  And these success stories—about men and women helping others to change their lives—are the ones Jackley hopes will be told to inspire people in the future.