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.
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The Blue Sweater
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The subject is important and proximate. While the book is an excellent adventure into 'making the world a better place' it also points to far more important subjects: how to make philanthropy more impactful and how not-for-profits have to rethink the methods in order to have the impact they intend. All of us are philanthropists in some fashion from buying Girl Scout cookies to large scale donations. We give with the hope and intention that our donations make a positive and long lasting impact. But as this book points out, giving is often misguided because the manner that it is carried out falls short of the intent. Jacqueline recouints example after personal example of how blind giving is not the answer to bettering the world. The method must be strategic and the involvement active, not passive. Only then can the philanthropy have the intended impact - and in fact, goes beyond the original plan to have an exponential impact.
If you sit on a philanthropic board, participate in a service club or donate your time to an organization please read this book and challenge your team to rethink and restrategize its intention, methods, outcome and meaure of the philanthrophy.
Jacqueline's recount of her adventure is delightful. While her accomplishments are impressive, I also appreciated the honest and candid manner that recounts the failures of the process and in her own journey. I've purchased this book for several friends who are philanthropists and board members, and also for young adults who are planning their course of impact on the world.