Pathways to Peace speaker asks students to help her change the world


Social entrepreneur says micro-lending can help ease poverty Jessica Jackley, the co-founder of the…

Georgia (Feb 12, 2013)Social entrepreneur says micro-lending can help ease poverty

Jessica Jackley, the co-founder of the micro-lending website Kiva, asked students at Kennesaw State University to help her change the world.

“Help me make the world a place that is more collaborative,” Jackley said to an audience that packed into the Stillwell Theater on Feb. 12.

Jackley, this year’s Pathways to Peace lecturer, spoke about her journey to find a way to improve the lives of the world’s poor. It started when she was a little girl in Sunday school and learned she needed to share what she had with the poor. But she was also told “the poor will always be with you.”

It was frightening thought for a youngster. As she grew, alleviating poverty became a more distant proposition. Exhortations on late night TV that for the price of a cup of coffee she could help someone made it seem like a transaction to alleviate guilt.

But when she heard Muhammad Yunus, the founder of the Grameen Bank, speak at Stanford Business School in 2003 about lending small amounts of money to basket weavers in Bangladesh, Jackley was set on her path.

She quit her job and traveled to East Africa to interview small business owners who had received grants to help their enterprises grow.

From there Jackley helped create Kiva, the nonprofit which connects lenders with small business people around the world. To kick off the website, she uploaded photos of the people who needed the loans – a proposition that took hours to do because of the slow Internet connection.  Since its founding in 2005, the nonprofit has provided nearly $400 million in loans to people in 216 countries and boats a 98 percent repayment rate.

As a social entrepreneur, Jackley said she looks “for the things that we can create together that might have value to as many people as possible.”

Jackley hopes that micro-lending will help create different relationships among people, beyond the traditional donor-beneficiary one.

“I don’t think that leads to a world of peace or that it leads to a world of equality,” she said. “A loan is a relationship, an exchange, that is built around equality: $25 goes in and goes to you. You use it for something awesome. You give it back to me and we’re even. We are equal. I think and I hope that it’s going to change the way we think about each other.”

Pathways to Peace is an annual celebration promoting discussion of activities that significantly and meaningfully impact lasting peace across the globe. Sponsors include the American Democracy Project, Coles College of Business, the Peace Studies Program in Kennesaw State’s Interdisciplinary Studies Department and the Office of the President. Previous speakers were Pulitzer Prize winner Nicholas Kristof and Nobel Laureate Jody Williams.

-Yolanda Rodriguez


A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit