Joint Stock Companies opened Europe's Age of Exploration & led to England's First Permanent Colony in America - American Minute with Bill Federer
After the Reformation, Protestant countries formed the first "joint–stock" companies.
A joint–stock company was much like modern-day crowd–sourcing or crowd–funding.
Any individual, such as a carpenter, blacksmith, baker, or mason, could invest in a ship sailing to the Far East in search of valuable spices.
When the ship returned full of nutmeg, cinnamon, tea, or other trade items, investors would receive part of the profit.
Ships would sometimes sink in storms or be captured by pirates. To cover these losses, insurance companies were formed.