The Blue Sweater is the inspiring story of a woman who left a career in international banking to spend her life on a quest to understand global poverty and find powerful new ways of tackling it.
It all started back home in Virginia, with the blue sweater, a gift that quickly became her prized possession - until the day she outgrew it and gave it away to Goodwill. Eleven years later in Africa, she spotted a young boy wearing that very sweater, with her name still on the tag inside. That the sweater had made its trek all the way to Rwanda was ample evidence, she thought, of how we are all connected, how our actions - and inaction - touch people every day across the globe, people we may never know or meet.
From her first stumbling efforts as a young idealist venturing forth in Africa to the creation of the trailblazing organization she runs today, Novogratz tells gripping stories with unforgettable characters - women dancing in a Nairobi slum, unwed mothers starting a bakery, courageous survivors of the Rwandan genocide, entrepreneurs building services for the poor against impossible odds.
She shows, in ways both hilarious and heartbreaking, how traditional charity often fails, but how a new form of philanthropic investing called "patient capital" can help make people self-sufficient and can change millions of lives.
More than just an autobiography or a how-to guide to addressing poverty, The Blue Sweater is a call to action that challenges us to grant dignity to the poor and to rethink our engagement with the world.
What a joy to hear humanitarian and founder of the Acumen Fund Jacqueline Novogratz tell her story of how she evolved from a bright, young international banker to a remarkable philanthropist working to close the gaps between rich and poor across continents. Novogratz, now in her 40s, narrates her journey in The Blue Sweater with an awareness of her personal growth over the years. She approaches the beginning of her journey as a young women sent to Africa with great naiveté and excitement in her voice. As the story advances, leading up to her greatest accomplishment, the founding of the non-profit Acumen Fund to fight global poverty, her narration reflects the understanding and character development her experiences offered her.
The Blue Sweater is both autobiographical and informative, a memoir of someone with striking conviction to make a difference in the most depressed of economic climates. Novogratz is likable from the start, and her story becomes more inspiring as the chapters progress. To most of us, global poverty seems too big of an issue to even comprehend, much less to tackle from home. Novogratz brings the issue closer to the listener by exploring the inadequacies of our current approaches and offering solutions that she works to implement with the Acumen Fund. The Blue Sweater is an accessible listen for everyone, financially inclined or otherwise, and Novogratz never carries a tone of condescension. (She is just as quick to acknowledge her failures as her achievements.) Rather, she offers her story of discovery and eye-opening experiences as a call to arms.
Novogratz is a true citizen of the world, an idealist driven by her belief that we are all “interconnected”. The Blue Sweater is a riveting account of her journey towards the Acumen Fund; to hear Novogratz narrate her memoir is to embark upon that journey right alongside her. Suzanne Day
"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, editor at large, Time magazine; host, CNN's Fareed Zakaria GPS)
"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)
"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)
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A Heartfelt Testament
Inspiring, Honest Read. Highly Recommended
Yes. This is a beautiful, honest memoir, as well as a crash course on micro-lending and development for the poor. Novogratz is very good at describing her experiences, missteps, and successes without revision; she writes about what she learned, the people she met, the places she grew to love. I especially like the parts involving Rwanda. The audio quality is also good, and Novogratz is fun to listen to.