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Jacqueline Novogratz on the Current State of Philanthropy by Rob Neal
March 26, 2009, 8:33 am
Filed under: Philanthropy

The McKinsey Quarterly has a two brief interviews with Jacqueline Novogratz of the Acumen Fund.

Before starting the Acumen Fund in 2001. Ms. Novogratz worked at the Rockefeller Foundation .  She also founded Duterimbere a micro-finance institution in Rwanda. She has just published a book about her experience in Rwanda titled, The Blue Sweater: Bridging the Gap between Rich and Poor in an Interconnected World. Ms. Novogratz has also given three TED lectures and serves on several boards.

The Acumen Fund is a nonprofit venture fund.  According to their website, they “…seek to prove that small amounts of philanthropic capital, combined with large doses of business acumen, can build thriving enterprises that serve vast numbers of the poor. Our investments focus on delivering affordable, critical goods and services – like health, water, housing and energy – through innovative, market-oriented approaches.

The first interview with Ms. Novogratz is about market-based philanthropy.  Here is an excerpt from the conversation:

“The Quarterly: The charitable community doesn’t understand well how to sell things to the poor does it?

Jacqueline Novogratz: No. In fact, I’ve been in many meeting over the last decades where marketing is seen as a dirty word, which is really unfortunate because we market ourselves, we market things that we do every day. And I was just in one of the toughest slums on the planet and really struck by how capitalist the slums are, how capitalist the farmers are, in the way that they interact with each other, even if it’s within a more social-oriented system.

And so I think in a way it’s demeaning not to think about marketing to the poor. I think it’s not caring enough about what they want, because it’s all about what you think is right for them. “

The second interview is about her book, The Blue Sweater.  In addition to a video interview, there is an excerpt from the book.

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