Jacqueline Novogratz —
A Different Kind of Capitalism

The devastation of the Haiti earthquakes and the lack of infrastructure for responding to the disaster have deepened an ongoing debate over foreign aid, international development, and helping the poorest of the world's poor. Jacqueline Novogratz, whose Acumen Fund is reinventing that landscape with what it calls "patient capitalism," is charting a third way between investment for profit and aid for free.

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Guests

is the founder and CEO of the Acumen Fund. Her memoir is The Blue Sweater.

Pertinent Posts

Finding the line between doing good and crippling those one's trying to help — at home and abroad.

SoundSeen (our multimedia stories)

"Patient Capitalism in Context" with Chris Farrell

Our chief economics correspondent gives a helpful history of the origins of social investing, addresses some of the prevailing skepticism, and thinks of markets as "chat rooms" rather than just "listening devices."

Selected Readings

The Acumen Fellows Reading List

A striking collection of essays, speeches, and books from an eclectic range of perspectives — from Martin Luther King to Bill Gates, from Simón Bolívar to Wendell Berry and Ursula Le Guin — that Novogratz recommends to foster empathy, self-awareness, and a business mindset in the Acumen Fellows.

About the Image

1298, an ambulance service based in Mumbai, India, charges fees on a sliding price scale according to the medical care center the patient chooses.

Episode Sponsor

This sustainability feature is supported by the Kendeda Sustainability Fund of the Tides Foundation.

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Thank you for the interview with the founder of The Acumen Fund. This was the most encouraging discussion on global poverty I've heard since I first heard of micro-lending over 20 years ago. Congratulations to Speaking of Faith and The Acumen Fund for this wonderful show.

I have been a social entrepreneur for 19 years. It has never been financially lucrative but knowing that I have lifted over a hundred thousand families out of poverty is enough.

While I found your interview of the author and the founder of the Acumen Fund, Jacqueline Novogratz, truly inspiring, I found myself wondering throughout where the micro-business funds are for the working poor of the United States. We are falling through the cracks of aid distributed thru SBA loans, which consider a "small business" to have a minimum of 100 employees. As 50 year old recently divorced, starting over, operating out of my back pocket, small business owning women, I dare say if I had a 100 employees, I wouldn't need a loan.

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Thank you for the interview with the founder of The Acumen Fund. This was the most encouraging discussion on global poverty I've heard since I first heard of micro-lending over twenty years ago. Congratulations to Speaking of Faith and The Acumen Fund for this wonderful show.

While I found your interview of author and founder of the Acumen fund, Jacqueline Novogratz truly inspiring, I found myself wondering throughout, where the micro business funds are for the working poor of the United States? We are falling through the cracks of aid distributed thru SBA loans which consider a "small business" to have a minimum of 100 employees. As 50 yr old recently divorced, starting over, operating out of my back pocket, small business owning women, I dare say if I had a 100 employees, I wouldnt need a loan. Christina Smallidge Peace Leaf Tea www.peaceleaftea.com

Your introduction to the program with Jacqueline Novogratz was so inaccurate regarding the U.S. role after the Haitian earthquake is filled with inaccuracies. How did China and Israel get there first? Why didn't we have a second runway constructed in a matter of hours? Why didn't we have heavy equipment digging out survivors within hours and certainly within a day? I heard a BBC report on US military running out of food and water--as if they had no radios and helicopters to bring more. Instead, the soldiers left the people without food and water.

Another BBC report was a Haitian describing a US helicopter landing, and then taking off and dropping bits and pieces of food, treating the people in a most inhuman fashion.

Why did the US military prevent at least five planes from Doctors without Borders from landing with food and medical equipment?

Why was the US obsessed with so-called security while people who were buried alive died, and the survivors went without food, water, and tents?

Where are you getting your grossly inaccurage information that our effort has been in any way laudable?

I have been a social entrepreneur for nineteen years. it has never been financially lucrative but knowing that I have lifted over a hundred thousand families out of poverty is enough.

I really like what Jacqueline and the Acumen fund are doing. They seem to have a good idea. They take the good ideas of others and provide them with funding. The money comes from investors, or donors as she likes to call them, and funds projects that promote social change. The biggest difference here is that the investors aren't getting financial return, they're getting the reward of impacting social change.

Jacqueline brought up her past work in India. The idea came from someone who needed money for his idea to take off. Acumen was able to provide funding for the project which brought clean water to rural India. This service was something that banks didn't invest in before because it hadn't really been done before. Jacqueline mentioned that the belief may be that water comes from God. Why would they need to pay for it? WIth Acumen's help, the water plants were built and became a big success. They're projected to continue growing and providing clean water, all with the help from local banks which are now investing in this service.

This is foreign aid with a catch, they're aren't just giving them clean water, they're investing in infrastructure to bring these people water for a lifetime. The process changes the lives of the people who are impacted. This impact is how Jacqueline promotes her services and brings in more donors. This unique approach of charging the poor people can be questioned by some people, but Jacqueline mentions it success and brings up the failure of aid elsewhere. The top down giving to some of these countries just doesn't reach the right people. Governments need to start taking responsibility for their people.

Jacqueline works on many projects and has put $40 million toward ideas for social change. This private innovation can bring change to the low income people where change would have been hard to come by. Acumen provides donors the ability to see human potential. Jacqueline promotes a spiritual way of thinking to solve the biggest problems in this world. She mentions God and our connectedness as people as driving forces for some. Her hope is to continue this work or helping the lower income people of the world, not in just one location. She talks about how we're all being divided into two groups, the rich and the poor. Her hope is that all of this social change will spread, and people who have been impacted will pull the rest of their community with them. This could eventually lead right back to the US and people who have unmet needs.

After visiting Mexico and Costa Rica I saw children playing with rocks on the road. Then I had a dream to bring them toys. So, my next few trips over the years I ask my friends children if they had toys to share with children who had none. Of course they could not imagine that was possible. Miracles paved the way for me to fill my personal mission work. The most wonderful experience is to see the kids faces as you hand them one toy in remote villages or in an orphanage. My wish is to continue this heart felt vision. There would never enough toys to share with the children who still do not have one. Contributing to a happy childhood. Thanks.....Deborah

On your Sunday show (8/22/10, you spoke with Jacqueline Novagast, excuse the spelling. At the intro of your interview you asked about helping right here in American and it did not appear that she answered you.
As an African American and reading history books it seems that Europeans have a long history of going to foreign places and becoming the savor. Example, many activist have descended upon Haiti but where were they prior to the earth quake? Or back in the early years when Haitians were refused entry into the United States. It also seems like it takes these horrendous events for many to get involved.
If people are looking to help there are many towns here in American, right here in Georgia that could use help from people like Novagast. My brother works with a nonprofit in Metro Atlanta, that works with at-risk-youth but he can only do so much. Where are the Novagasts?

I want to heap as much praise as is humanly possible on Krista Tippet and this amazing program. There aren't enough superlatives in my vocabulary to express how inspirational and amazing On Being is. I find myself buying the recommended books, sharing and taping the podcasts for friends, and relating the experiences of the interviewees to everyone, and talking about this program as much as I can.

The interview with Jacqueline Novogratz has had a lasting impact, to the extent that I'm considering returning to Africa after 25 years. I've passed on The Blue Sweater to friends and wonder to myself why everyone is not dedicated to the service of others. It's just where I am in my life I suppose.

Krista is such an inspiration to me. I too am 49 and grew up Baptist in the south. I have long rejected the limits of Christianity, but have embraced a much more expansive Spirituality. Thank you Krista for making this program available. Best of Everything,Tim