Jessica Jackley, employed by Stanford Business School, invited Matt Flannery to attend a 2003 lecture on microfinance given by Grameen Bank's Muhammad Yunus. The concept of microfinance was still very new, but it served as a "call to action" for Jessica. Soon after, she began working as a consultant for the Village Enterprise Fund, a nonprofit that worked to help fund start-ups in East Africa.
On one visit to Africa, Flannery and Jackley spent time interviewing local entrepreneurs about the problems they faced during the initial phase of their ventures, and learned the greatest obstacle to success was a lack of access to start-up capital. Upon return to the United States, Kiva.org was born - a plan for a microloan enterprise.
Kiva, which means "unity" in Swahili, establishes microfinance institutions, social businesses, schools and non-profit organizations around the world, called "Field Partners", to help further the ideas of people all over the world.