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The Blue Sweater: Bridging the Gap Between Rich and Poor in an Interconnected World

3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  3,787 ratings  ·  432 reviews

For the first 5,000 copies of The Blue Sweater purchased, a $15 donation per book will be made to Acumen Fund, a nonprofit that invests in transformative businesses to solve the problems of poverty.

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 w
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published March 3rd 2009 by Rodale Books
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Lit Bug
This is a thought-provoking, intense memoir by Novogratz as she recounts leaving her high-profile First World banking job in order to travel to the Third World to seek the causes and solutions of extreme poverty, eventually spending years in Rwanda, Pakistan and India, while intermittently taking up further training back in the USA.

It all started with the Blue Sweater that she gave away to Goodwill, a charitable institution – 11 years later, she spotted the same sweater on a little, poor boy in
I had high expectations for this book: I read it alongside Muhammad Yunus'"Banker to the Poor", thinking that Yunus could be the representative of the beginnings of micro-credit, and Novogratz of the more recent direction of the movement.

However, this book, in the end, is more autobiographical than informational. Novogratz has undoubtedly lived a fascinating life, but in the end much of the book felt more like fluff than substance.

My sense is that she'd have been better served by focusing more t
Ms. Novogratz is a big dreamer and a bigger doer. This book--which reads alternately like a novel, a memoir, a diary, or a lecture--chronicles her development from a 20-something idealist to a 40-something optimist, well-grounded and well-schooled in the ways of a complex world.

The author jump-started a bakery in Kigali where her friends and colleagues, in years to come, were both victims and perpretrators of the Rwandan genocide, was assaulted on the shores of Tanzania, climbed a volcano in Za
2.5 out of 5 stars.

This book reminded me a lot of Unbowed by Wangari Maathai--non-fiction, set in Africa, strong woman changing the world, but writing...not so great. Which is a real shame about the not so-great writing because the subject matter is important. Jacqueline Novogratz is inspiring, Acumen Fund sounds amazing, Novogratz's journey of discovery about herself, the world, and how to change it is interesting. But oooh, girlfriend needed to focus. She needed an editor to help her focus. A
Adam Gossman
I opened this book and could not put it down. It had everything: it was very well written, was the perfect mixture of story, factual data, memoir and one of those books that makes you want to sell all you own and go out to conquer the world.

I cannot recommend this one enough!
Emily Dy
The prologue opens with:

"They say a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. I took mine and fell flat on my face. As a young woman, I dreamed of changing the world. In my twenties, I went to africa to try and save the continent, only to learn that Africans neither wanted nor needed saving. Indeed, when I was there, I saw some of the worst that good intentions, traditional charity, and aid can produce...

I concluded that if I could only nudge the world a little bit, maybe that would
This book drew me in in the beginning with the author's desire to help impoverished women of the Third World obtain low-interest financing to begin profitable businesses. However, once she established herself as proficient in her field, her overseas trips dwindled and she began teaching and performing more executive-level jobs. The book doesn't intrigue me at that point. The first 1/3 of the book 4-4.5 stars, the last 2/3rds only a 2 as it was hard-going with the exception of a few trips intersp ...more
Nov 15, 2009 Cari rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone that wants to make a difference
Recommended to Cari by: It's required reading for my Intro to International Poli Sci cla
This book illustrates the problems with the charity and relief organisations of the 3rd (developing) world. The emphasis of this book is on the economic field, with especial stress put on the value of accountability and the value of a person doing something for themself, rather than having it done for them or given to them. The stories of people in this book cover from the mid 1980s through today, including the impact of the Rwandan genocide and the need for clean water, mosquito nets and access ...more
It always seems to me that with all the brilliant minds, money, technology, and energy devoted to conquering poverty, we should be able to make at least make a dent in it. This book explains why traditional charities have so frequently fallen short of the mark despite our best intentions. The author is an absolutely brilliant woman who chose 20+ years ago to leave a high-paying career in banking in NYC specifically because she wanted to change the world. She lived in Africa, India and Pakistan, ...more
I recommended this book to my book club with a bit of trepidation...would it dive too deeply into the technical intricacies of micro-finance? are these types of "save the world" stories really only my cup of tea? The book came highly recommended to me by two trusted sources, so recommend it I did. And in the end, I was deeply moved upon reading this book and found it was well received within the club, too, phew! Above all, I think it was Jacqueline's personal story and the raw honesty with which ...more
Elevate Difference
Would you give up a promising career in international banking to pursue a lifetime of attempting to understand and eradicate global property? Jacqueline Novogratz began her career as an international banker at Chase Manhattan Bank. As a member of the Credit Audit team for Chase Manhattan Bank, Novogratz was responsible for reviewing the quality of the bank’s loans in other countries, especially in troubled economies. As time went on, Novogratz began to explore the possibilities of working with t ...more
This is basically two books (sort of like "Under the Banner of Heaven"), and the 3-star rating has to be a balance of the 4 stars I'd have given the first half with the 2 stars I'd have given the second. The first half is a riveting story that I literally did not want to put down. The second half is just information on either how-to or how-we-did set up a fund to fund microenterprise. And that, frankly, was not that interesting. Sure there were some things in the second half that caught my inter ...more
The Blue Sweater is a first-person account of Jacqueline Novogratz' experiences, starting as an idealistic investment banker in Africa, and evolving to the founder of the Acumen Fund. She believes in "patient capital" -- investments that can take time to mature -- and in capturing the energy and information from markets to establish sustainable endeavors.

Novogratz has witnessed a lot.

The book's title comes from a great "coincidence" that highlighted her sense that our lives are profoundly conne
This is a terrific book. It made me feel good to know that there are such people as Jacqueline Novogratz (JN) in the world. If you liked "Three Cups of Tea," you'll also like this book. In one respect, it's better - the author doesn't get lost in the middle of the book; the narrative continues in a straightforward manner.

JN's desire, from a very young age, was to make a difference in the world. When she began a successful career in the financial world, she still longed for a job that would make
Heidi Cuppari
So far I’m in love with this book. Not only because I worked closely with Jacqueline for a couple years at Acumen Fund which on its own was a wonderful journey and learning experience, but because this a truly inspirational story about a woman who had a vision and was determined to learn how to approach poverty problems in a different way. She believed strongly that treating the poor like ‘customers’ and not ‘charity cases’ would grow local economies and give pride to people in their lives, and ...more
Excellent, very recent book by Jacqueline Novogratz, the CEO of the Acumen Fund, a non-profit devoted to making investments in effective and sustainable local solutions for tackling poverty. The first three quarters of the book details Novogratz's life story coming out of college that contributed to her founding of the Acumen Fund and the last quarter details what the Acumen Fund has done since in 2001.

Certain other books written by development "experts" have a pompous, "I knew this all along" t
This is a wonderful book! I really encourage everyone to read it. I am sure you will find it inspiring. The title comes from an amazing story of a sweater the author was given as a child that she improbably enough finds years later being worn by a small boy in Africa. That interconnectedness is the theme she carries through the book. Essentially a memoir of her working life (so far) Novogratz has done an amazing job of relating her successes and failures in international aid work in a way that i ...more
I read this book because I was instantly intrigued by the short story of the blue sweater that I read about inside the front cover. I had no idea the depths to which this book would go and the energy I would obtain from it! I learned so much from reading this that I now want to get an MBA after the Pharm D because I think I will really be able to make an impact with them both together. I really appreciated the way Jacqueline structured this book because she described in a good amount of detail t ...more
My main takeaway: Novogratz is a pretty amazing person. She seems pretty endlessly energetic, and unbelievably resilient. Trying to change global distribution and economic patterns is hard work, even if you don't throw in language difficulties, personal assaults, and brushes with genocide. I can imagine that if I were faced with one hundredth of the resistance, complication, bureaucracy, negativity, corruption, and depressing logistical difficulties that Novogratz has faced, I'd give up and walk ...more
I had the good fortune to attend in person a lecture at my workplace by the amazing Jacqueline Novogratz. She is the kind you want to keep listening to as her message is so full of hope and she has walked the talk. The overarching theme I take away from it is that the financially poor are no different from us in that they value dignity and choices over and above charity or "help". Furthermore, there is no one silver bullet way of healing the world - traditional charity, aid, self help free marke ...more
I think I really want to give this book 3.5 stars. I started it on a plane ride and when I got back from the trip, with it not yet finished, I set it down on the coffee table only to completely forget about it for a week or more. So obviously it didn't completely enthrall me. On the other hand, once I started reading it again, I did find the information very thought-provoking.
This book is about philanthropy, but not the kind that only makes the giver feel good. It talks about how to use philanth
Loved this! Though she is a friend/colleague I have known for over 10 years, I had not fully understood Jacqueline's early experiences in Africa working to empower women and their impact on her current work at Acumen Fund. Not only is the first half an incredible personal narrative about a 20-something trying to do good in the world, and how she learns from her mistakes, but I think this might follow 3 cups of tea as the next social entrepreneurship best seller! Kudos to Jacqueline. Acumen rocks ...more
Brad Blakey
May 31, 2011 Brad Blakey rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Those interested in microfinance/social issues
Recommended to Brad by: Saw it on a blog
Story of women who started this mircoenterprise organization.

Good read. I would recommend it if you are in the mood to think about global social issues and poverty. The author is an interesting lady with a thoughtful approach to poverty alleviation. She is against traditional charity that just donates money to poor, developing parts of the world. Instead, she believes in the "patient capital" approach which seeks out promising entrepreneaurs in developing countries who know their own markets/cu
Book Concierge
Novogratz had a solid middle-class upbringing but dreamed of doing more with her life. This book is about her journey to implement the principles she held dear. As she was about to graduate from the University of Virginia she felt at loose ends, not sure what or where she wanted to work, feeling she really wanted to take a year off to “tend bar and ski and figure out how I would change the world.” But to appease her mother she went on the round of interviews scheduled by the school for graduatin ...more
The subtitle for this book is "Bridging the Gap Between Rich and Poor in an Interconnected World." You can tell Jacqueline Novogratz has done that very thing with her life.

This book is a wonderful and spell binding story of the beginnings of the Acumen Fund and Ms. Novogratz's journey from International Banker to being a world leader in helping the poor. Not just giving them a hand out, but truly giving them a way to pull themselves out of poverty through entrepreneurship.

I've read several book
The Blue Sweater is a guidebook for what not to do in global aid. The author honestly tells her story of one failure after another. She deserves credit for admitting her errors and for continuing to try new things, but it is frustrating that she never takes a step back to ask what has worked in countries that have moved out of poverty. Instead she keeps reinventing the wheel and repeating proven mistakes (not listening to locals, etc.). This is especially frustrating because she does seem to hav ...more
I carried this book around for a while, I thought it would be interesting and I should read it but I also thought it was likely to be a touch strong on 'being worthy!' and therefore hard going.... So as I am often looking for some escapism I kept putting off actually starting it. How wrong I was, once started it took me three days to read and blew me away!

This is a beautifully constructed book that takes you through the personal life journey of Jackueline Novogratz and her approach to giving di
Although it's pretty clear from her, um, utilitarian prose style, Jacqueline Novogratz is not exactly a writer, she does tell a good story. And, frankly, I don't know if this is the kind of book which you ought to read hoping for aesthetic pleasure - there are plenty of those books "about Africa" already, and a lot of them are gross - because Novogratz's focus, and the focus of her memoir is so clearly on social progress and rectifying injustice. As I mentioned, it really is quite a good story - ...more
Sirpa Grierson
Not always the best writer, if I were judging for literary merit, but her stories are incredibly inspiring and eye-opening as they build a compelling case for how we can help alleviate poverty with innovative solutions. I'm interested in literacy of course, but often that is secondary to meeting basic physical needs. I like the fact that Jacqueline Novograd is a brilliant out-of-the-box thinker. She admits that she has failed at times, but has such commitment to making a difference and through A ...more
Mary Louise
Jacqueline Novogratz and Seth Godin gave review copies of this book to Triiibes members. What a blessing. When I am finished, I will pass it on to my favorite library at Bennington College in Vermont. Will you help me spread the word about this terrific book?

If you read one nonfiction book a year, make it this one. In an honest and fair narration of the current problems facing all charitable organizations that want to do good work, Novogratz will convince you that "patient capital" is the way t
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United Methodist ...: The Blue Sweater 3 11 Nov 01, 2014 12:03PM  
Shrinking Violet ...: May Book Group Discussion 1 13 Apr 22, 2013 06:21PM  
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