Friday, April 17, 2009

Book Notes - The Blue Sweater

The Blue Sweater: Bridging the Gap Between Rich and Poor in an Interconnected World, Jacqueline Novogratz.

Amazing book. You normal readers of this blog will love this book. Not only does it include the vast story of the author's life and experiences between Wall Street, Africa, international development, and the Rwandan genocide, it's all framed with incredible optimism about personal growth, humanity and the future.

Chapter 8, "A New Learning Curve," was my favorite because it touched on important international development concepts such as:
+ agricultural inputs and production
+ tangible examples of microfinance successes.
+ why some development projects look good but fail.
+ philanthropy and innovation.
+ why technologies need to be transferable to be successful.

There were of course a few other amazing stories:
+ Charlotte who recovered from the Rwanda genocide, starting with only $3 and borrowing and earning enough to eventually own a restaurant that currently served 250 meals a day.
+ Pakistani microfinance company called Kashf; IDE India, distributing thousands of treadle pumps; A to Z Textiles, manufacturing 150K malaria bed nets per year, based in Tanzania; and Aravind Eye Hospital, which now examines more than 2.3 million patients a year, and on average 80 surgeries a day, with a future vision for telemedicine for low-income areas.
+ The Rwandan genocide and evil and good among all of us.
+ The growth of Acumen with an insider look at the values that drive it.

A few other ideas:
+ The world will not change with inspiration alone, rather it requires systems, accountability, and clear measures of what works and what doesn't. Our most effective leaders, therefore, will strengthen their knowledge of how to build organizations while also having the vision and heart to help people imagine that change is possible in their lives.

+ [Writing about the Acumen Fund fellows program] On the third day of the fellowship in New York, we take away their cell phones and wallets, give them only $5 and a New York City transit pass with two rides on it, and ask them to come back at the end of the day ready to share their perspectives and insights on how new York City's services for the poor might be better designed if low-income people were considered customers, not just charitable recipients.

+ I believe this next generation will change the world. Everywhere I go, I meet young people who are hungry and ready to contribute. University students and freshly minted MBAs from across the globe ask me what skills they'll need for meaningful work in serving the world. They should gain skills in the functional areas of business - marketing, design, distribution, finance - as well as in medicine, law, education and engineering, because we need more people with tangible skills to contribute to building solutions that work for the poor.
Like I've said to many of you readers that I know, if you want a significant role in solving global poverty, get educated in a tangible skill because just about all fields have or will have a role in the future in solving humanity's greatest problems.
+ Build a vision for the people and recognize that no single source of leadership will make it happen. This is our challenge for creating a future in which every human being can participate.

No comments:

Post a Comment