March 24, 2009
The Blue Sweater
Last week, Acumen Fund CEO Jacqueline Novogratz held a book reading in San Francisco as part of the launch of The Blue Sweater, her new book, which is now available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Half.com.
The Blue Sweater takes us on a journey, through one inspiring personal memoir after another. She read us an excerpt from an experience she had in the eighties where she helped a group of unwed mothers start a bakery.
In the book, she reveals how traditional charity often fails. A key mission of Acumen Fund is to use entrepreneurial approaches to solve the problems of global poverty. It's a combination approach: "small amounts of philanthropic capital combined with large doses of business acumen, can build thriving enterprises that serve vast numbers of the poor."
Why they feel charity alone isn't the answer: "poor people seek dignity, not dependence." Frankly, everyone seeks dignity and all too often, we don't get it.
She tells us "why the blue sweater?" I was obviously curious as were others. When she was around ten, she wore a sweater with zebras on it well into high school before she finally parted with the garment. Years later, when she as in her mid-twenties, she spotted a zebra sweater on a little boy in Africa.
With emotion, she tells us how she ran over to check the label and sure enough, it was her very own zebra sweater she wore as a child. "It's an example," she says, "of our own interconnectedness. Those of us who have lived in the developing world all have a blue sweater story -- where something we have done has impacted someone's life and we don't learn how until much later on."
She's right. We all have our blue sweater stories even if we haven't lived in the developing world. Having an impact on others in an unselfish loving way is ultimately why we're here. Giving back to the world is what really feeds us at the end of the day and often, its the smallest of "gives" that have the most impact.
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