Global Thought Leaders: Jessica Jackley Wants Your Small Business to Thrive

Photo of Jessica Jackley

Photo of Jessica Jackley

The DailyWorth Global Thought Leader series features exclusive interviews with remarkable entrepreneurs and activists who are striving to improve women’s lives around the world.

Jessica Jackley is an entrepreneur dedicated to entrepreneurs. She has co-founded two companies that creatively help aspiring and established small-business owners raise capital.

The first, non-profit, founded in 2005, connects everyday folks with entrepreneurs around the world, enabling small (but collectively great) loans to help businesses start and thrive.

Recent loans have gone to a woman in the Philippines looking to purchase piglets for hog-raising as well as a group of Zimbabwean peanut butter makers. To date, the web site has generated $257 million in loans, which can be as small as $25. Lenders don’t earn interest on their loans, but 99% of them are paid back.

In 2009, Jackley co-founded ProFounder, a resource for U.S.-based entrepreneurs that’s a sort of DIY business start-up kit online—not only helping entrepreneurs think through their business model, but helping raise funding through investments (not donations or loans) from family, friends and others.

Jackley’s businesses make funding more accessible, but it’s the stories behind the businesses that drive her. “The capital is much less important than the relationships that are built or strengthened…when people share their resources and express a belief in someone else’s potential to do great things,” she says.

And that person doing great things could be you, Jackley notes, offering this advice:

“It’s enough to take one step in the direction of your interest and know that you want to keep taking steps forward,” she says. “Just start—because someone times you can only find the second step after you’ve taken the first one.

Baby Steps: If you could start any business you wanted, what would it be?