Jacqueline Novogratz, Founder and CEO of Acumen

Jacqueline Novogratz
Acumen Founder and CEO

Jacqueline’s work began in 1986 when she quit her job on Wall Street to co-found Rwanda’s first microfinance institution, Duterimbere. The experience inspired her to write the bestseller, The Blue Sweater: Bridging the Gap between Rich and Poor, and create Acumen. Indeed, when she founded Acumen in 2001, few had heard of the words impact investing. Fifteen years later, under Jacqueline’s leadership, Acumen has invested $110 million to build more than 102 social enterprises in countries like Uganda, Kenya, Ghana, Pakistan, India, Colombia, the U.S. and others. These companies have created and supported 60,000 jobs, leveraged an additional $522 million, and brought basic services like affordable education, health care, clean water, energy and sanitation to more than 200 million people. In 2015, Fast Company named Acumen one of the world’s Top 10 Most Innovative Not-for-Profits. Prior to Acumen, Jacqueline founded and directed The Philanthropy Workshop and The Next Generation Leadership programs at the Rockefeller Foundation.

Jacqueline serves on the Aspen Institute Board of Trustees and the board of IDEO.org, and sits on the Advisory Councils of the Harvard Business School Social Enterprise Initiative, the Oxford Said Global Leadership Council, the Pakistan Business Council’s Centre of Excellence in Responsible Business (CERB), and Social Enterprise at the University of Virginia.

She is a frequent speaker at forums including TED and the Aspen Ideas Festival. Her best-selling memoir The Blue Sweater chronicles her quest to understand poverty and challenges readers to grant dignity to the poor and to rethink their engagement with the world. In 2017, Forbes listed Jacqueline as one of the World’s 100 Greatest Living Business Minds.

She holds an MBA from Stanford and a BA in Economics/International Relations from the University of Virginia.

The Blue Sweater

The Blue Sweater shares the story of Jacqueline’s quest to understand global poverty and to find powerful new ways to tackle it. From her first stumbling efforts as a young idealist in West and East Africa to the creation of Acumen, Jacqueline brings us insightful stories and unforgettable characters — from women dancing in a Nairobi slum, to unwed mothers starting a bakery, to courageous survivors of the Rwandan genocide, to entrepreneurs building services for the poor against impossible odds. 

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