Tag Archives: Acumen Fund

The Blue Sweater a book by Acumen Fund founder Jacqueline Novogratz

I had gotten a copy of Acumen Fund founder, Jacqueline Novogratz’s, book “The Blue Sweater” a couple of months ago and had kept promising myself that I would read it. Finally as I was leaving on a short trip to India, I threw it in my bag hoping to get to it during my visit. As the long 15 plus hour trip from Newark to Bombay stretched before me, I settled myself in as best as I could and opened the book expecting to read a few pages and then sleep as much as possible for the rest of the flight.

Once I started reading I was hooked. Before I knew it I had plowed through the entire volume. This is an extraordinary and powerful book. My personal interest in social entrepreneurship, particularly in solving issues in the developing world, had led me to peruse many books in the field – from the seminal one by David Bornstein to Jeff Sachs and Prof. Yunus. Each provided a perspective on development with solutions and suggestions. Yet somehow this book was different. Continue reading

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Jacqueline Novogratz – Legatum Lecture at MIT

We are a connected world said Jacqueline as she described the story of her blue sweater, also the title of her recently published book. Once discarded by her at Goodwill, it turned up 25 years later in Rwanda where she found it on a boy in the countryside.

Speaking at the Legatum Center’s Lecture series at MIT, she described the innovative work of Acumen fund and how it helps build social solutions through its venture philanthropy.

She prefaced her talk by some of her observations from her work helping to build enterprises around the world that she undertook since her time in Rwanda.

  • Dignity is more important than wealth for the human spirit.
  • Traditional models of charity won’t solve problems of poverty.
  • Markets can’t solve poverty. 100 Million people went back into poverty last year and that is what happens when you only rely on market forces to solve these problems.
  • What is needed is patient capital that will address these problems

Continue reading

An opportunity of a lifetime

An interesting side effect of the global recession on graduating college students – more are considering taking time to get engaged in public service. A recent article in the Boston Globe observes

Instead of going straight into a 100-hour-a-week job at an investment bank, they are pursuing less lucrative but potentially more satisfying opportunities in public service, enrolling in record numbers in the Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, and Teach for America.

In that article Harvard President, Drew Gilpin Faust observed.
“The path to Wall Street was so clearly defined, so if you weren’t sure what direction to go, this direction was filled with signposts and rewards,” Faust said in an interview. “But we are seeing two historic moments converge: this extraordinary financial crisis and this outpouring of interest in the public sphere.”

Faust said she hopes to tap alumni connections and join with other colleges to set up a recruitment process for public service that mirrors the way the corporate world woos students.

Sasha Dichter of the Acumen Fund ruminates in in his blog post The Other 690 : Continue reading

The New Philanthropy – New models for Social Impact

I had a great time attending the conference to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of my alma mater, IIT Bombay. The event was well attended with over 800 attendees and very well organized. It was fun catching up with some of my classmates after 30 plus years!

I had the pleasure of moderating a wonderful panel on “The New Philanthropy – New models for Social Impact” with four great speakers presenting a wide range of activities that their different organizations pursue in the social sector.  The panelists were

  • Shari Berenbach, Executive Director, Calvert Foundation
  • Omer Imtiazuddin, Health Portfolio Manager, Acumen Fund
  • Lisa Nitze, Vice President, Entrepreneur 2 Entrepreneur Program, Ashoka Global
  • Linda Segre, Managing Director, Operations & Initiatives, Google.org

I have written a more in-depth article for Lokvani, but some of the key points were: Continue reading

Innovative models for Social Change

Last year I had written a piece for a conference blog with the title “Innovative models for Social Change“. I think the theme and topic is still relevant and I have reproduced it below.

Next week, I will be moderating a panel that will be addressing this theme at the 50th Anniversary celebrations for my alma mater, the Indian Institute of Technology – Bombay (IITB for short) in New York. The panel is titled “The New Philanthropy – New models for Social Impact“. I am fortunate to have several of the innovative organizations that I mention in the post to be a part of my panel. The panel consists of:

It promises to be an engaging discussion and one, I hope, that will answer some of the questions raised in my post from last year. Continue reading