Giving back is an important part of society, and whether it be financial or through my expertise, the action has always been a part of my life.

I recently learned about Givesurance. Emerging from 500 Startups in October of 2014, Givesurance provides users with the opportunity to receive up to 5% of their insurance payments back as donation credits to participating non-profit organizations like Books for Africa and Operation USA. With Americans spending close to two trillion dollars in insurance premiums each each, if all of the 113 million people in the US who already donate to charity received 5% of their premium back as a donation credit, an additional $100 billion would go towards charities.

Jennifer Rasiah is the entrepreneur behind Givesurance. Her personal story reveals why she chose to create a start-up with a heart.

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?

Being a Sri Lankan immigrant and surviving a civil war has contributed greatly to my leadership. Life has given me the strength to be autonomous and build my own foundation …  to overcome challenges and be better for doing so. I’ve learned how important it is to stay inspired and surround yourself with people who encourage you to be your best.

What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenure at Givesurance?

The highlights at Givesurance have been working with our partner charities, helping them spread the word and raise money for their organizations and those they benefit. To know that $25 in Givesurance donation credits could provide 100 meals to the underprivileged or 125 books for children in rural parts of Africa is why we began this business in the first place. As far as challenges go, we’re continually adding more insurance carriers to the 250 participating insurance companies currently working with our platform. Doing so requires us to license in new states, which can be very difficult. We’re focused on expanding beyond the 40 states we’re licensed in now, but with intense insurance regulations and various laws from state to state, it can be difficult at times.

How do you maintain a work/life balance?

I work on maintaining that balance, and think everyone should have one, but I can’t say I'm great at it. Luckily for me, my personal passion is my business, and I feel good doing the work we do.

What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?

The minority of women in business, venture capital and technology is an issue that’s been percolating for years. Surely not a secret anymore, many female advocacy groups have been created to bring equality to the business landscape and erase women’s feelings of being the minority. With the recent study from the Lean In Organization and the McKinsey group, we find women are less likely to advance in their roles — men have a 15 percent greater likelihood of advancing to a new role compared to a woman at the same level.

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?

David Kanel is one of my greatest mentors and he just happens to be me ever supporting husband! He has worked with me from the time Givesurance was in its concept phase until now. Ed Roman, one of my advisors, has spent many hours coaching and mentoring me, which has been extremely has been valuable for me and the company. Having both of these role models in my life has helped to maintain a vision for what I love and grow as an entrepreneur. You can’t do it alone, that’s for sure.

Which other female leaders do you admire and why?

Oprah Winfrey & Sheryl Sandberg. I’ve always related to Oprah. When I was young, she inspired me to know that where you came from is not where stay. I, too, grew up poor, but I never saw that as being a constant in my life. Even as a child, I believed in making life better for myself and making a difference in others’ lives. Sheryl Sandberg’s influence has also had an impact on me. The way she talks about the challenges female entrepreneurs face and how she shines light on what we’re going through …  I admire that!

What do you want Givesurance to accomplish in the next year?

We’re focusing on partnering with even more charities to generate awareness. If all U.S. households could get 5% of their insurance payment back as a donation credit, more than $100 billion would go toward charities. We want to spread the word to as many households as possible.

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