By Heather Johns
LEWISBURG, Pa. — Bucknell University alumna Jessica Jackley, Class of 2000, is a finalist for the TIME 100 list of the most influential people in the world for 2009.
Jackley is co-founder of Kiva, an online peer-to-peer microfinancing company that allows people to make loans to start-up businesses around the world.
Kiva, which means unity and agreement in Swahili, allows donors to make loans to entrepreneurs around the globe. Jackley's interest in applying business principles to address global poverty inspired her to launch the company in 2005.
Recognition 'surreal,' 'an honor'
Other TIME 100 finalists include Barack Obama, the Dalai Lama, and Pope Benedict XVI. "Being a TIME 100 finalist feels very surreal," said Jackley.
"Kiva is so much bigger than just me, so it's a huge honor to represent the organization in this way." | | View Jackley's TIME magazine entry .
In 2008, Bucknell University honored Jackley for her work with Kiva by presenting her with the Distinguished Citizenship Young Alumni Award. The award is given to alumni of the previous 15 years for distinctive professional accomplishments, service to alma mater and selfless and caring work to benefit society.
The Kiva experience
For many in the Kiva community, lending to those in need is more than an investment. "I think lenders sort of fall in love with the experience," said Jackley.
"As lenders participate over time and begin to make their second and third loans, or even their 500th loan, they have an increasing appreciation for their experience with Kiva," Jackley said. "They lend to more and more people and hear about the awesome, positive changes in the lives of the entrepreneurs they've supported. Lenders can see clearly how they are a very real part of a larger movement.
"I hope this exposure will help continue to convince people that they can have an impact — that they can create positive change in someone else's life, even someone living on the other side of the planet — and that this is an undeniably real, immediate and easy thing to do," said Jackley. "I hope people who have never heard of Kiva, or who have heard of it and haven't been sold on the idea, will see us on this list with so many other amazing people and organizations and finally think, 'OK, maybe this is worth paying attention to.'"
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