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The Blue Sweater

Bridging the Gap Between Rich and Poor in an Interconnected World

By Jacqueline Novogratz
12-minute read
The Blue Sweater: Bridging the Gap Between Rich and Poor in an Interconnected World by Jacqueline Novogratz

The Blue Sweater is an autobiographical look at the author’s travels in Africa and how they helped her understand the failures of traditional charity. These blinks also outline why a new type of philanthropic investing, called “patient capital,” developed by the author, may be part of the answer.

  • Anyone interested in social entrepreneurship   
  • Anyone who wants to work in developing countries and is wondering what to expect
  • Anyone interested in helping developing countries rise out of poverty

Jacqueline Novogratz is a former Wall Street banker who later went on to found and head Acumen Fund, a non-profit venture capital firm that invests in sustainable enterprises with the goal of lifting people out of poverty.

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The Blue Sweater

Bridging the Gap Between Rich and Poor in an Interconnected World

By Jacqueline Novogratz
  • Read in 12 minutes
  • Contains 7 key ideas
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The Blue Sweater: Bridging the Gap Between Rich and Poor in an Interconnected World by Jacqueline Novogratz
Synopsis

The Blue Sweater is an autobiographical look at the author’s travels in Africa and how they helped her understand the failures of traditional charity. These blinks also outline why a new type of philanthropic investing, called “patient capital,” developed by the author, may be part of the answer.

Key idea 1 of 7

Local women play a vital role in eliminating poverty in developing countries.

Anyone who has watched the news knows the devastations of poverty in the developing world. People in the West have tried to lift the developing world out of poverty with various approaches like government aid and charitable organizations, yet, time after time, they have failed. Why?

Often, aid and charity is not directed to the right people – women. In the developing world, it is women who generally decide how a family should spend its money, which makes them the most responsible spenders in their communities. Giving them the aid is most likely to yield effective results.

Novogratz came to this conclusion when she wanted to help the poor in Rwanda. She had helped found a micro-credit company called Duterimbere, which makes very small loans to poor people who wouldn’t qualify for traditional bank loans. Soon she found that many women in developing countries were taking out loans to expand their tiny enterprises, mostly involving selling vegetables like tomatoes and onions.

Duterimbere turned out to be very successful, and its success was largely because it let local women, rather than so-called experts, decide where money should be spent. This method went against the prevailing aid industry logic that dictated that experts should direct aid, with locals getting little say.

Although these micro loans effectively helped poor communities rise out of poverty, Duterimbere was faced with the problem that a lot of women were not paying them back.

Novogratz found a solution in making borrowers more accountable.

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