Jacqueline Novogratz has a heck of a story to tell with The Blue Sweater: Bridging the Gap Between Rich and Poor in an Interconnected World. Unfortunately, her delivery is often lacking and the writing becomes rather dreary and even self-serving at times.
There’s no question that Novogratz has her heart in the right place. As the CEO and founder of the Acumen Fund, she has dedicated her life to changing the game when it comes to poverty. Her input and ideas, especially in the field of micro-loans and financing, can and should be utilized in the fight against poverty in the developing world.
The idea of creating entrepreneurial ventures and providing access to basic services to those in poverty is a good one, to be sure. Far too long, the notion of charity has consisted of simply tossing money at a problem and wishing it to go away. The act of helping the poor gain ground for themselves is seen, at best, as a late addition.
Happily, Novogratz believes in the power of investing in enterprise among the world’s poorest people and her experience in international banking has served her well.
The Blue Sweater sets up Novogratz’s philosophies with the biographical literary device, launching stories and recollections from the author’s life. She is a quick learner and applies the various shards of guidance she receives to her experience. Novogratz speaks of the need to listen, often relating that the best advice she has ever received was to listen to what the people wanted instead of to assume to know what the problems and solutions are.
Unfortunately, the book can be rather dull as the author relates story after story from her time in Rwanda and other parts of Africa. While the lessons learned are fundamental, the author’s style of meticulous recollection leaves a lot to be desired. Novogratz is expressive, often excessively so, and the piece really drags as a narrative.