LA Venture: Serial Entrepreneur Jessica Jackley on Pursuing a Goal: ‘Just Take More Steps Anyway’

On this episode of the LA Venture podcast, Untapped Capital, Alltruists and Kiva founder Jessica Jackley talks about her experience supporting entrepreneurs across the world, and offers advice to founders on what to do when encountering doubt — from themselves or others.

“The pursuit of an opportunity, a vision, like an imaginary world that you want to make real. You’re running after this thing, you’re pursuing it without regard to what you have in front of you,” she said. “So there’s always going to be something wrong.”

Jackley’s journey as an entrepreneur started when she founded Kiva, a nonprofit that lends money to low-income entrepreneurs. She started the company and moved to East Africa where she heard stories of people starting businesses with just $100.

“I wasn’t asked to swoop in and help or save. I was asked strategic questions about where they could access loan capital, where they could access business training,” said Jackley. She added that the individuals she met through the service didn’t want handouts.

Kiva offered $200, $300 loans at no interest. That model helped build successful small businesses. Every year, they saw a raise on how many loans they could offer. The company has so far facilitated $1.5 billion in loans since the business started in 2005.

More recently, Jackley founded Untapped Capital and Alltruists. Untapped gave her opportunities to invest in unexpected companies and watch them rise, much like Kiva. Alltruists was born out of the pandemic.

“I really wanted to figure out a way, especially as we were on lockdown, like how do we not just have our lives be waiting for the doorbell to ring and another package is dropped off and we just consume it, right? What, what would it look like to reach back out into the world in a way that is helpful,” said Jackley.

She created a box subscription service that provides kids with activities that can benefit them and the world. The company’s last box focused on making a pollinator hotel for bees.

From her ventures, Jackley recognized when pursuing your dreams, something will always go wrong.

“There’s going to be days when you are told, or you’re telling yourself, ‘well, I’m not old enough’, ‘I’m too old’. ‘I don’t have enough experience’. ‘I have the wrong experience’, whatever,” said Jackley. “Just take more steps anyway towards that thing. Cause that’s what great entrepreneurs do.”

Hear more of the episode, in which Jackley talks about her goal to disrupt the volunteer economy and more.