Jessica Jackley, co-founder of nonprofit microlending platform Kiva, has become a general partner at SparkLabs Global Ventures. Jackley was previously a venture partner at the firm, which focuses on seed-stage investments in the United States, Asia and Europe.
Jackley is also the chief impact officer at Aspiration, an online financial services firm that lets customers open bank accounts that give them a “sustainability score” based on the environmental impact of the companies they spend money at, and invest in fossil fuel-free funds.
In an email, Jackley told TechCrunch that she joined SparkLabs Global Ventures because “I was interested in joining a truly global fund; SparkLabs really does have a far-reaching presence, while maintaining a strong U.S. focus, too.” (The firm is part of a SparkLabs Group, a network of startup accelerators and funds.)
Her experience in social issues and finance will carry over to her investments, which will focus on fintech and sustainability-related startups.
Jackley said she is “intentionally casting a broad net,” though is eager to look at investments in Asia because recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic is happening more quickly there. In terms of fintech, she anticipates there will be more demand for digital platforms and virtual payment options after COVID-19, and financial services for underbanked populations.
Jackley added that she is also interested in online education, partly because of her experiences as a parent while sheltering in place during the pandemic.
“Of course biotech is more interesting to me now, but as a parent of four, trying to homeschool while working full time at home has made me quickly develop a deep love/hate relationship with several ed-tech platforms,” she said.
“I’m betting other parents reading this right now are nodding along (or punching a wall!)—so I’m eager to see how tech in that space adapts. It’ll be fascinating to see who comes up with new insights during this season, whether established companies or first-time entrepreneurs, or others in-between. Hoping for better, simpler solutions.”
In a statement, SparkLabs Global Ventures co-founder and general partner Bernard Moon said, “Getting to know Jessica over the past few years has been inspiring. Her passion for entrepreneurship, innovation and how it can positively impact people’s lives is the driver that led us to give her a leadership role with SparkLabs Global Ventures, especially as we enter a post-COVID-19 world.”