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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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“This is a wonderful book by a remarkable woman. It's a story about doing enormous good while having some extraordinary experiences and even adventures. It touches the heart and the mind. I recommend it to anyone who wants to learn about what's really going on in the world out there.” —Fareed Zakaria, Author of The Post-American World and editor of Newsweek International
“The decency of Jacqueline Novogratz shines through these pages and so does her strength. The stories she shares about the people she has met show the nobility of the human spirit and the breadth of the desire to stop suffering, to feed the hungry, to care for the sick, to empower the poor - in short, to make the world a better place. The Blue Sweater is a book of hope written by a practical idealist who won't take "no" for an answer when it comes to building a better world. Jacqueline breathes new life into the phrase "a life of meaning" and she is living one everyday even as she asks us to join her.” —Senator Bill Bradley
“The Blue Sweater will inspire people around the world by seeing the difference one person can make in taking on challenges with courage, curiosity, drive and a great sense of possibility. It is a story for all of us, regardless of the country in which we were born.” —Mary Robinson, Chair of Realizing Rights: The Ethical Globalization Initiative
“Jacqueline's book and her work represent an entirely new way to look at things, a vivid opportunity for change and most of all, an obligation to spread the word about the way the world has evolved. We need to wake up and listen to what she has to say. Hurry!” —Seth Godin, author of Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us and Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable
“Jacqueline is a national treasure. Her pioneering work at Acumen Fund is positively influencing a whole generation of donors and recipients.” —Seth Berkley, President and founder of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative
“A captivating first-person account of a young woman's quest to close the gap between rich and poor. If one person can change the world, this is your window into how it's done.” —Chee Pearlman, former Editor in Chief, I.D. Magazine
“If you believe in the worth and capacity of individual initiative and in group commitment, or if you believe that our lives can be transformed by the events we live through, then you must read this book.” —Daniel Toole, UNICEF Regional Director for South Asia
About the Author
JACQUELINE NOVOGRATZ is founder and CEO of Acumen Fund, a nonprofit venture capital firm for the poor that invests in sustainable enterprises in the developing world.
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She discovers a financial truth: If you give someone something the polite response is 'thank you' with no critique attached. If you loan someone money or sell someone something they will give you honest feedback. Aid is not always the best answer to all forms of poverty. There are circumstances in which payment is not possible but when possible if a person can pay even a small amount they feel empowered.
Novogratz's work does not end with the book. The New York based Acumen Fund is a conduit for angel investors in businesses all over the world which have the potential to scale to 1 million clients. Great read. Great organization.
Do you have a blue sweater experience?
Blue Sweater is story of Jacqueline's journey on the road of change. What challenges & hardships she felt and how she conquered over those challenges with new perspective, gave us a valuable insight into a life and experiences of a social entrepreneur. Jacqueline left a high paying wall street to work in developing and poor nations of Africa. Though she was having noble intentions and raging passion to change the world for good but world had a whole lot different colors and spices in store for her. She went from country to country, started a women microfinance organization in Rwanda, worked with African governments, led teams at Rockefeller foundations and went on to build one of the most successful social entrepreneurial company called `Acumen Fund'.
Interesting points and Take-aways from this amazing book -
' How we all are connected?
Sometimes we can't even imagine how our daily actions and activities are affecting others in the world. We saw one example of blue sweater that traveled across continents. This was a tangible example. But the way we consume light, water and energy and how that in turn affect our less fortunate brothers and sisters, is definitely something to think about. We're not an insolated system but a part of a global one. Her Blue sweater's journey across the world tells the same.
'Importance of building trust and relationships
With instances of food poisoning, fear of being under a voodoo spell and getting mugged, Jacqueline faced many great roadblocks in the road of doing well. Though her intentions were noble, but she learned over a period how she has to build trust in order to get her intentions across to people. After few years, some women in the community were impressed by the persistence and gave her a platform to execute her vision. It hits home the point of establishing trust first and then executing noble plans.
'Listening and Adapting
Good intellect, noble intention and passion were needed to solve the untouched problems. But to make sure that right problems are solved and solution designed are truly what needed, listening becomes the most important skill. Author explained in couple of instances like bakery paint instance and being told that growth should be at Rwanda's pace and not at her own though her intentions were pure. Those things really suggest that people trying to change the world change need to themselves first and then they can make a real difference. They listen and they adapt the process though ultimate goal is still the same. It was a change of from her vision to Rwanda's vision.
'Breaking the norms
Social taboos are high in less educated communities and they can indeed break the momentum of progress in any nation. Those are one of the main speed breakers on the road to change. But understanding that those norms are deep rooted into the very thread of the society and thus can't be easily changed without taking some resistance from the masses, played an important role into her personal and professional life.
Where governments, universal organizations such as Red Cross, UNICEF were failing, Duterimbere and such organizations were the answers. Understanding that people in these countries know how to solve their problem and don't need charity but just need an opportunity. Big flows of aid create corruption and mismanagement. And scattered efforts don't make big impact but collective efforts with an established accountability structure in form of organizations and microenterprises are the answers to some of biggest national and community problems.
'Social Entrepreneurship is not about just numbers
"Duterimbere" has done well in areas that are beyond numbers. Just not providing financial support to women, it brought a social change and had a much bigger impact on the society that its financial sheets may not show. Women opening their bank accounts without husband's signature, running banks and holding major positions in business, all these are also sign of much greater impact that this institution had in the mindset of its people. Aware youth who talks about international politics and discusses current technology, all are indirect benefits of this bank.
The Blue Sweater: Bridging the gap between rich and poor in an interconnected world by Jacqueline Novogratz is about the many issues we face around the world with the focus starting in Africa. Poverty, disease and death are the major issues that the world deals with everyday. Through the eyes of Novogratz, her experiences that she has encountered make you want to help in any way possible. She has been able to help many people with housing and teaching them how to receive financial support in order to create new business to have a better life without all the struggles.
This life changing experience she lives through was the beginning of micro-financing and the Acumen Fund. Novogratz's shared many stories about the struggles of the people in Africa and goes on to remind us all not to give up hope, that we will all still make mistakes and to learn from all this.
As a high school teacher working in a low-socioeconomic area, I do hear stories of the struggles of families here in the San Joaquin area. When they ask what I think, I share some of the stories that Novogratz has mentioned in her book.
Some very interesting and helpful information that goes along with this book is that the Acumen Fund recommends using a teaching guide. I have shared this book and the teaching guide with the English department and recommended that they look into implementing this into some of their reading assignments or to pass on to other the classes.
I do recommend this book to everyone