Jacqueline Novogratz is founder and CEO of Acumen Fund, a non-profit global venture capital fund that uses entrepreneurial approaches to solve the problems of global poverty. Acumen Fund has invested over $50 million of patient capital in 50 businesses that have impacted more than 40 million people in the past year alone. Any money returned to Acumen Fund is reinvested in enterprises serving the poor. Currently, Acumen has offices in New York, Mumbai, Karachi, Nairobi, and Accra.
Jacqueline was born in the U.S., the eldest of seven children (who all currently reside in New York City). Her father is a U.S. military veteran. She went to high school in suburban Virginia and attended college at the University of Virginia, where she studied Economics and International Relations. Novogratz has an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. The title of Novogratz’s 2009 book 'The Blue Sweater: Bridging the Gap Between Rich and Poor in an Interconnected World' is based on an encounter she had in high school that led to her giving away a favorite sweater to Goodwill, only to allegedly find exactly the same sweater with her name on the tag later on a boy in Rwanda, an encounter that may not really be true but rather a good example of poetic license. Even if allegedly finding the same sweater years later in Rwanda is not true, the book is still powerful.
Novogratz started her career at Chase Manhattan Bank as an international credit analyst. After three years, she left banking to explore how to make a bigger difference in the world. This led her to work throughout Africa as a consultant for the World Bank and for UNICEF. As a UNICEF consultant in Rwanda in the late 1980s, she helped found Duterimbere, Rwanda’s first microfinance institution. Novogratz also founded and directed The Philanthropy Workshop and The Next Generation Leadership programs at the Rockefeller Foundation before starting Acumen Fund in 2001. Under Novogratz's leadership, Acumen Fund has grown to serve 40 million people a year through its investments of patient capital in businesses that provide low-income people with critical goods and services. She also oversaw the creation of Acumen's year-long Fellowship program that aims to build the next generation of leadership for the social sector.
Novogratz currently serves on the advisory boards of Stanford Graduate School of Business and of Innovations (journal) published by MIT Press. She also serves on the Aspen Institute Board of Trustees and as a member of a World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Social Innovation. She is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
In 2010, Jacqueline Novogratz was honored as the 2010 Rensselaer Entrepreneur of the Year (EOY) for her work with Acumen as well as for her New York Times best seller 'The Blue Sweater: Bridging the Gap Between Rich and Poor in an Interconnected World', published in 2009. In early March 2010, she received an honorary degree from Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Such mark of recognition of her work in Kenya inspired her to establish a book club for The Blue Sweater, using the school's honorarium to create "The Blue Sweater Challenge." The program allows young organizers from the slums of Nairobi, Kenya, who have hosted both "The Blue Sweater book club" and a TEDx in the Kibera slum, to identify and award three local groups who are doing the most to effect positive social change in their communities.
In 2009, Novogratz published the New York Times bestseller 'The Blue Sweater: Bridging the Gap Between Rich and Poor in an Interconnected World'. The book is a firsthand account of her journey from international banker to social entrepreneur and founder of Acumen Fund. Since its publication, the book has been picked by the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and Peace College as common reading for all incoming freshmen.
Jacqueline Novogratz is married to Chris Anderson, the curator of TED. She has three daughters, Elizabeth, Anna, and Zoe (1986-2010). Her brothers are Michael Novogratz, the president of investment management firm Fortress Investment Group, and Robert Novogratz, a designer who has been profiled in the Bravo television show 9 by Design.
Awards and Fellowships
- University of Virginia Distinguished Alumna Award, 2013
- Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award, 2010
- Wofford College’s Sandor Teszler Award for Moral Courage and Service to Humankind in Spartanburg, SC, along with an honorary doctorate by the college, 2010
- Foreign Policy's Top 100 Global Thinkers, 2009
- Daily Beast's 25 Smartest People of the Decade, 2009
- CASE Leadership in Social Entrepreneurship Award, 2009
- AWNY’s Changing the Game Award, 2009
- Ernst & Young Metro New York Entrepreneur of the Year 2008
- Rockefeller Foundation Warren Weaver Fellow
- Aspen Institute Henry Crown Fellow
- Synergos Institute Senior Fellow
- Honorary Doctor of Science degree, University of Notre Dame
- Novogratz, Jacqueline (10 March 2010). "The Blue Sweater Challenge: Inspiring Social Change in Kenya". Huffington Post.
- http://provost.uncc.edu/read/ & http://store.peace.edu/peacecollegesummerreading-thebluesweaterbyjacquelinenovogratz.aspx
- Bromley, Anne. "From Accidental Banker to 'Patent Capital Leader'". UVa Today. University of Virginia. Retrieved 5/7/2013.
- University of Notre Dame. "Honorary Degree". Retrieved 20 June 2011.
- Acumen Fund Website
- The Blue Sweater
- Jacqueline Novogratz: Investing in Africa's own solutions, video, TED Conference, July 2005.
- Jacqueline Novogratz: Tackling poverty with "patient capital", video, TED Conference, June 2007 in Arusha, Tanzania.
- Jacqueline Novogratz: A third way to think about aid", video, TED Talk at the US State Department, June 2009 in Washington, D.C.
- Investing in the World's Poor Stanford Graduate School of Business, May 2007
- Philanthropy and Development in Emerging Markets, Business Week, March 2, 2009
- Hard Lessons Learnt in the War on Poverty, Financial Times, February 24, 2009
- Developing Entrepreneurship among the World's Poorest The McKinsey Quarterly, March 2009
- Jacqueline Novogratz and Deepak Chopra Podcast
- The Patient Capitalist The Economist, May 21, 2009
- Podcast Interview with Jacqueline Novogratz Social Innovation Conversations, April 6, 2009
- "Hard Choices: Jacqueline Novogratz," BusinessWeek, October 7, 2010