In 2005, a year before Muhammad Yunus won the Nobel Peace Prize for the pioneering microfinance work of Grameen Bank, Jessica Jackley co-founded a peer-to-peer microlending platform called Kiva.

Instead of collecting donations, Kiva asked individuals to lend money, interest-free, to aspiring entrepreneurs in developing countries. The approach upended conventional notions of charity, “the poor,” and global development. In the decade since, Kiva has facilitated more than $730 million in loans to entrepreneurs in 83 countries.

Jackley went on to launch a crowdfunding platform in 2009, years before crowdfunding had entered the public lexicon. Though that company folded in 2012, citing restrictive government regulations, it helped pave the way for the passage of the Jumpstart Our Business (JOBS) Act, which eased the rules and allowed crowdfunding to become the ubiquitous fundraising tool it is today. Jackley is currently an independent consultant and investor with the Collaborative Fund.

Her new book, Clay Water Brick: Finding Inspiration from Entrepreneurs Who Do the Most with the Least, chronicles her journey from a young do-gooder in Sunday school to an internationally recognized leader in business and international development. The book also profiles several of the creative, ambitious entrepreneurs that inspired Jackley along the way.

In your book, you share how the Bible verse “the poor you will always have with you” (Matt. 26:11) haunted you when you were a child. How do you think about Jesus’ words today?

I know now that the story behind it is more than what I imagined as a child. I used to imagine a long line of poor people following me around everywhere, which terrified me. ...

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