Investing in ending poverty: Jacqueline Novogratz on

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We’re beginning the second week of the TED media team’s annual break and our highlights from the archives with a thought-provoking talk from 2005.

In her first talk at TED, Jacqueline Novogratz, founder and CEO of Acumen Fund urges us to get better at answering the tough questions of the world and says that aid, while appreciated, just doesn’t cut it. She begins her talk by telling the story of a blue sweater that she donated to Goodwill as a child, and over a decade later found on a little boy running through the hills of Kigali. Coincidentally, earlier this year, Novogratz released a book titled The Blue Sweater: Bridging the Gap Between Rich and Poor in an Interconnected World that puts into writing her encounter in Kigali and explains how her realizations in that moment ultimately caused her to devote her career to addressing tough global questions and to found Acumen Fund.

Acumen Fund uses philanthropic capital to begin and stimulate businesses that serve and employ the poor, from water systems to micro-insurance to textile manufacturing. It has invested $40 million in over 35 companies serving 25 million in the developing world, with offices in New York, Pakistan, India and Kenya. The fund and its work are continuing to grow, with the help of its brand new Student Leaders Workshops for college students interested in social enterprise development and the Fellows Program, developed in 2007 to recruit talented and passionate young people who are given the opportunity to build leadership skills and gain international experience while providing management support for the budding businesses. Maybe they’ll also have their “blue sweater moment” in a rice paddy in India or on a factory floor in Kenya. We could use a few more people who, like Novogratz, work hard at answering the tough questions.

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