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Making Something from Nothing (For the Better)



I’ve often repeated some great advice my father shared with me, “The best way to prosper yourself is to prosper others.”  This advice goes hand in hand with a quote from Jessica Jackley’s Clay Water Brick: Finding Inspiration from Entrepreneurs Who Do the Most with the Least: “The greatest entrepreneurs succeed not because of what they possess but because of what they are determined to do.” 

This is the basis of Jackley’s book, which explores entrepreneurship from a philanthropic point of view.  When it comes to prospering others, Jackley had a vision for her business and had to fight hard, often against the odds and with ceaseless patience.  But she succeeded.  Her brainchild is Kiva, a nonprofit that offers microloans through online donations.   

Making a successful business out of nothing was difficult, but Jackley didn’t give up.  The principles of her book are inventive and in line with what we teach at Selling Energy, which is to use everything at your disposal and make a strong case for what you’re selling.  Sometimes you have nothing at all, and Jackley’s story is proof that you can still succeed.  When it comes to trying to make the world a better place – particularly through helping others – this is a required read. 

Here is the summary from Amazon: 

“In the tradition of Kabul Beauty School and Start Something That Matters comes an inspiring story of social entrepreneurship from the co-founder of Kiva, the first online micro lending platform for the working poor. Featuring lessons learned from successful businesses in the world’s poorest countries, Jessica Jackley’s Clay Water Brick will motivate readers to more deeply appreciate the incredible entrepreneurial potential that exists in every human being on this planet – especially themselves.

“The heart of entrepreneurship is never about what we have. It’s about what we do.”
“Meet Patrick, who had next to nothing and started a thriving business using just the ground beneath his feet . . .
“Blessing, who built her shop right in the middle of the road, refusing to take the chance that her customers might pass her by . . . 
“Constance, who cornered the banana market in her African village with her big personality and sense of mission.
“Patrick, Blessing, Constance, and many others are among the poorest of the world’s poor. And yet they each had crucial lessons to teach Jessica Jackley –lessons about resilience, creativity, perseverance, and, above all, entrepreneurship.
“For as long as she could remember, Jackley, the co-founder of the revolutionary micro lending site Kiva, had a singular and urgent ambition: to help alleviate global poverty. While in her twenties, she set off for Africa to finally meet the people she had long dreamed of helping. The insights of those she met changed her understanding. Today she believes that many of the most inspiring entrepreneurs in the world are not focused on high-tech ventures or making a lot of money; instead, they wake up every day and build better lives for themselves, their families, and their communities, regardless of the things they lack or the obstacles they encounter. As Jackley puts it, “The greatest entrepreneurs succeed not because of what they possess but because of what they are determined to do.
“In Clay Water Brick, Jackley challenges readers to embrace entrepreneurship as a powerful force for change in the world. She shares her own story of founding Kiva with little more than a laptop and a dream, and the stories and the lessons she has learned from those across the globe who are doing the most with the least.”

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Posted by Mark Jewell