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The Blue Sweater: Bridging the Gap Between Rich and Poor in an Interconnected World Paperback – February 16, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Novogratz combined her twin passions for banking and philanthropy after she left a lucrative corporate banking position to work with women's groups in microfinance, the pioneering banking strategy that won Muhammad Yunus a Nobel Peace Prize in 2006. Her work merging market systems with development and social empowerment led her to create the Acumen Fund for entrepreneurs in developing nations, which she describes as the opposite of old-fashioned charity. Novogratz also focuses on her own developmental path as she charts her evolving views of capitalism and how she will change the world. Unfortunately, she stumbles when she strays into biographical territory, relying on clichés to bolster her professional decisions through a personal lens. The book is most interesting when it touches on the difficult decisions that Novogratz and her team must make about financial empowerment—should they charge interest on loans to poor women? can working women find acceptance in a patriarchal society?—but these dilemmas are facilely glossed, keeping the book in an uncomfortable limbo between a personal narrative and a primer on globalization. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
Acumen Fund founder Novogratz blends two narratives in this memoir about her years fighting global poverty. In one thread, she recounts her early experiences in Africa developing microfinance organizations to assist women. Many of her reminiscences focus on relationships with the local women in government who were key to her success as well as the personal trials she encountered matching her Western vision with their ideas about the future. She also writes about later work in India and Pakistan. The other thread focuses on her return to Rwanda after the genocide. Although her inside view of global poverty initiatives and politics at the most basic level makes for interesting reading, her personal story intrudes in a manner that some readers may find self-serving. Her reflections on the genocide also detract from the economic discussion in India and Pakistan, rendering the book more Rwanda-centric (and thus more political) than she may have intended. In the end, Novogratz does provide enough information on microfinance to make readers curious to learn more. --Colleen Mondor --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Top customer reviews
The book is so much more than that. The author delves into the soul of the problem and the people that are tackling it. With vivid descriptions that put you right in a hut in Kigali or a field in India, she explores the human side of poverty, commerce, creativity, tragedy and joy. Stories of people overcoming genocide in Rwanda to see their visions survive. These could be distractions but she weaves them into the book's central premise - that the way to fight poverty is. It simply through well intentioned even generous charity. It is through treating the poor as people, as peers and giving them the respect and tools they need to shape their own destiny to own their own dignity. To help them join markets where they have the same capacity to innovate, deliver and create prosperity for their families, communities and nations.
That is a message delivered less effectively in many books and bone dry business texts. How rare to receive it in such an inspiring and captivating life story.
Although some sections of the book seemed to drag on, I did not read it as a novel, but I read it to learn fom her research and experiences so I could be more informed about what truly helps people and what does not.
The last half of the book is better than the first half because it is here she brings it all together so you can see the result of all her learning.
I love her story with all of her struggles along the way. She had to learn the importance and power of listening and to put herself in other people's shoes. She was willing to learn from her own mistakes and the mistakes of others too.
The result of all her struggles, her successes and failures is The Acumen Fund.
The Acumen Fund helps in the fight to eliminate poverty with dignity and accountability, to create sustainable businesses that provide basic services, providing jobs and solutions that work long term, such as making and distributing mosquito bed nets, distributing clean water and drip irrigation for farmers. Because it is not charity, the local people are involved in the businesses of production and distribution and the customers take good care of it because they have to pay for it. After providing these solutions for the people, they go back and measure the impact to know if they need to make any changes.
This book showed me why Charity does not work by itself. Charity should only be a short term solution used in emergency situations.
I understand now why some developing countries have said that tourism has greatly harmed them, creating beggars and thieves where people used to work to provide for their families. Charity can have that same result.
Most recent customer reviews
That being said, I'm amazed this book has received any praise.Read more