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The Blue Sweater    by Jacqueline Novogratz order for
Blue Sweater
by Jacqueline Novogratz
Order:  USA  Can
Rodale, 2009 (2009)
Hardcover, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Deb Kincaid

The book's title, The Blue Sweater, refers to the time Novogratz (then an international banker) met a young boy in Kigali, Rwanda wearing the same blue sweater she had donated to Goodwill more than a decade earlier. Her name tag was still inside. The author realized, 'Our actions - and inaction - touch people every day across the globe.' Desiring to know 'what came between poverty and wealth' in these impoverished countries, she began to ask questions, and she listened. What she learned inspired the founding of Acumen Fund in 1991, which funds projects and organizations helping the world's poorest.

During her time in the countries of Brazil, Rwanda, Gambia, India, Pakistan, Tanzania and more, she encountered resentment from local economic leaders, had to cope with the psychology of poverty, and was frustrated by social restrictions acting as barriers to success. She was threatened, poisoned, assaulted, and a victim of theft on more than one occasion. Plus, nearly all the good she had accomplished in Rwanda was undone by the subsequent genocide - but not all. She persevered.

Novogratz admired the supportive strength of the women, witnessed the tremendous capacity for forgiveness demonstrated by the post-genocide Rwandan people, and recognized the drive and imagination evident for success in business, if only given the opportunity. And she built from there.

Utilizing capitalist principles, successful collaborations resulted. One example is Dr. Venkataswamy of Madurai, India, whose clinic is a resource for cataract surgery, surgical training, and telemedicine. Other collaboration centered on communication services, irrigation systems, and homeownership for the poor.

Though often sounding like an infomercial touting the wonders of capitalism, The Blue Sweater nonetheless well characterizes Novogratz' passion for helping the poor economically and politically through creative economics, and for baring her unabashed affection and respect for those far less fortunate than herself.

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