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
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.
While the central tenet is allied with those held by academics like Dambisa Moyo and William Easterly, who argue that development aid (not to be confused with humanitarian aid) is a hindrance more than a service, Jacqueline Novogratz’s ‘The Blue Sweater’ is a personal, reflective and deeply humane testament to the power of economic development in Sub-Saharan Africa. Partly a heartfelt reflection on her years in Rwanda, before and after the 1994 genocide and partly a lighthearted memoir of a young activist trying to find where she is welcome (and more amusingly, where she is not) in the world around her, this book is a warmly toned, inspiriting guide to making a difference in our communities.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful
Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?
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.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
Where does The Blue Sweater rank among all the audiobooks you???ve listened to so far?
I highly recommend this book; it's one of the best I've listened to in 2012. For honesty, I applaud Ms. Novogratz. She points out her mistakes along the path she followed, often into dangerous situations, because of a naive understanding of the culture she was attempting to change.
What does Jacqueline Novogratz bring to the story that you wouldn???t experience if you just read the book?
She is passionate about helping those in the 3rd world and that passion comes through wonderfully in her narration.
Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?
It gave me hope that young (and old) people who wish to help those in very different cultures will be willing to use Ms. Novogratz' experience as guidance in their endeavors.
Any additional comments?
Novogratz' gives lots of proof that most of the money we throw at eliminating poverty is essentially thrown to the wind. She also outlines how that waste can be transformed to actual, long-term help.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
This was one of the most inspiring books I have ever read. As an educator I hope to pass on her message to my students.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
I left this book feeling like I could do something real and tangible to change myself and contribute to a better world. What an amazing story and powerful set of teachings about helping the poor and caring for other people. I can't recommend highly enough.
I loved this book and the author's views on how to help and aid the poor through lending . The stories she tells are incredibly heartwrenching and thought provoking
Everyone should read this book. Especially those who live by the status quo - too many Americans take clean water & health & housing for granted & all they do is complain about their favorite football team or how much gas cost. Enough already.
I read this as supplement to an international studies class, but it was so compelling I would have read it voluntarily. Novogratz addresses the flaw in the current system of foreign aid and using her long compelling experience in the field suggests a superior long lasting system.
In addition to this niche topic she addresses in so many words the human condition and tells her first and second hand accounts of major world events she was tied to: Rwandan Genocide, 9/11, others.
This book is above all else an easily digestible story that forever one to question their beliefs and develop character.
I enjoyed the author's perspective on philanthropy and thought she did a great job narrating her book as well.
What did you love best about The Blue Sweater?
The honesty! It's so nice to hear about the mistakes and bumps that many people in the field try to hide. It makes her path and work seem more realistic, attainable, and inspiring. I wish I'd read this before I worked abroad and maybe I would have had a step up! I recommend it for everyone, but especially people going to work in developing countries. I also liked how diplomatic and uncynical she was, when that does not seem the trend in the field. Towards the end, it started to sound a bit more like an ad for the Acumen Fund, but even that wasn't unwelcome. I didn't have a full understanding of how the organization worked and this was the best possible package for finding out! With such the organization's great, but not necessarily intuitive (methodology-wise) work, I think she needed to put this out there. She was also an excellent reader with warmth in her voice-- very easy to listen to. And so likable... be my friend, Jacqueline!
Jacqueline is a master story teller. This book is motivating, educating and entertaining taking you to the colorful and raw world of Africa.
Everyone involved in social development should read this book. Jacqueline shows how to use failures as stepping stones rather than obstacles.