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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 out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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 out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
What first struck me was that this book is much less about the developing world (to say nothing of the Acumen Fund) than it is about Novogratz herself. The author is not a gifted writer, as others have pointed out, and the constant attempts at vivid descriptions of scenes of Africa and India become very tiresome. They also lend to the strong theme of the author's utter naivete. Novogratz seems to be constantly shocked or surprised when something she tries doesn't work, and nevertheless repeats the same self-sure pattern of presumption on her next "project."
I was an innocent abroad once too. The developing world, especially Africa, has a steep learning curve... but it's one that the author, from her luxury accommodations in the capital, jet-setting between countries as an overpaid ADB "consultant," hobnobbing with expat (read: white) elites in tennis clubs and fancy restaurants where local Kenyans/Rwandans/Tanzanians/etc. are nonexistent, never seems to overcome. She's exactly the type of foreign "expert" which she skewers early in the book (and whom exasperates the rest of us in this field). My eyes became sore from so much rolling, hearing her wax eloquent about local people and cultures to which she clearly has little true exposure or understanding of.
I give it two stars because many of the lessons she discusses - about accountability, the power of business in bettering people's lives, instilling a sense of dignity through economic security - are sound. I just wish she would talk more about business and less about, say, how shocked - just shocked! - she was when she was mugged while jogging alone in Tanzania, or about how she feels about the Rwandan genocide.
In fact, with very little gripping highlights, this book was a struggle to finish.
Other reviewers have mentioned and I'll echo it here. This author is not a gifted writer. While they feel the story is worthy of more stars because of the subject, I have a hard time giving it more than a three star rating.
What the author has to say is important and worthy of hearing but this book seemed to be lacking in passion, carry through and seemed to leave you in limbo at times.
The stories she tells about the people of Africa, the people she knew and worked with are the most telling and fascinating. The stories of Rwanda are heart breaking and worth reading. In fact, that is the her forte- telling the stories of others.
It is when she tries to tell about her experiences or her determination to help that the book seems to develop into an ego boost for the author. When she tries to tell the details about the business it becomes more of a text book for businesses. When she share her stories though about other women, that is where the power lies. I wish she would do more of that.
Again, the message is wonderful and the book has worthy points. Some of the stories are fascinating. Overall though, this book simply isn't the most worthy messenger for the messages
But during Novogratz's journey in Africa and India, it is the people she has touched that have made all the difference. Most importantly, the women and children who have had gone through the ultimate test of survival. Their stories make THE BLUE SWEATER a worthy read.
In addition, Novogratz's personal experience and philosophy towards teaching leadership has made all of her endeavors possible as well as the people she attempts to help to find constructive ways to help themselves. Not only does one have to have an open mind, one of the prerequisites is to have human empathy is to put one's feet in one's shoes. This book goes beyond food for thought.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
That being said, I'm amazed this book has received any praise.Read more