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Manifesto for a Moral Revolution: Practices to Build a Better World

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“Wise and optimistic…provides a benevolent tonic for those looking to rise above the troubled waters of the age and embrace the ‘beautiful struggle’ of rebuilding our broken world. An inspiringly hopeful book.” —Kirkus Reviews

“An urgent manifesto about what it means to stand with the poor, to see through clear eyes, and most of all, to do work worth doing.”

—Seth Godin, New York Times bestselling author

Intimately acquainted with the forces of poverty, war, environmental ravage, and corruption, founder and CEO of Acumen Jacqueline Novogratz has a history of disrupting traditional models of leadership in the face of brutal challenges. Just as her groundbreaking new book, Manifesto for a Moral Revolution: Practices to Build a Better World (on sale: May 5, 2020 | Henry Holt and Company), makes its way to readers, an international pandemic has thrown into sharp relief the gaping wounds of our era, from a broken health system to climate change and skyrocketing inequality and growing divisiveness. Our inadequate systems and institutions are slumping beneath a host of modern crises. Most urgently, moral leaders are proving a scarce commodity. In America and across the world, an anxious public is hungry for clear, conscientious guidance. The stakes are higher than ever.

But it is not, as this urgent new book proves, the occasion for despair. The founder of Acumen has not merely created a community of socially responsible entrepreneurs and investors dedicated to the eradication of poverty, she has accompanied these leaders through the process of building the skills, determination and moral imagination to successfully challenge the status quo. Around the world, Acumen has facilitated the rollout of essential services to more than 308 million low-income people, often in politically fraught environments, sometimes changing systems all together. A pioneer in her field, Novogratz possesses a rare ability to not only navigate sociopolitical obstacles, but also to encourage a generation of changemakers to do what’s right, not what’s easy. Here, she offers an indispensable guide to all who wish to take up the practice she spearheaded at Acumen: focus on solutions, and resist the urge of falling into the traps of ideology or trite assumption.

In 2001, when Novogratz founded Acumen, few had heard of impact investing or patient capital—an investment model that emphasizes long-term gains over quick returns, funding early-stage enterprises providing low-income consumers with access to healthcare, water, housing, alternative energy, or agricultural inputs. Nineteen years later, there’s been a seismic shift in how corporate boards and other stakeholders evaluate businesses, purpose, and sustainability; and a generation of employees is pushing for a more inclusive and sustainable model of capitalism. Our existing institutions have run their course, but we have yet to reimagine new ones to replace them in an interdependent world.

In Manifesto for a Moral Revolution, Novogratz draws on unforgettable stories from changemakers around the world and her own experiences to divulge the most common leadership mistakes and the mindset needed to rise above them. In lucid prose infused with empathy, she wrestles with complex ethical and moral quandaries. Tackling issues ranging from identity and measuring what matters to whether markets will support businesses that reject a profit-alone mentality in favor of one centered on the health and wellbeing of humans and the planet, Novogratz is a testament to the value of embracing discomfort and holding steadfast to principles. In these pages, she shows how today’s leaders, who often kick off their enterprises with grand ambitions and tight timetables, might navigate the historically challenging obstacles, which have stymied prior generations of investors. And for all who feel fearful in the face of our unique, pressing issues at home and abroad, she offers something more: hope.

Advance Praise for Manifesto for a Moral Revolution:

“Everyone who wants to have an impact on the world…would be wise to keep a copy of this new book by Jacqueline Novogratz at hand. The original yet basic strategic ideas…can be the difference between just hoping for change and actually creating it. Don’t listen to the naysayers—just read this book.”
—Arianna Huffington, Founder & CEO, Thrive Global

“A timely, personal and focused reminder that our orientation to the work is as important as the work itself. For the many who want to do good but have not quite thought about the mindsets that will allow them to do such good, this book is necessary.”
—DeRay McKesson, activist, organizer, podcaster, and author

“Don’t let the words ‘manifesto’ and ‘revolution’ fool you; this book is all about love, humility, and patience. With gorgeous writing, arresting stories, and deep insights into complex systems, Novogratz shows the power of listening …She offers a way to blend capitalism and social justice that will inspire people from across the political spectrum.”
—Jonathan Haidt, New York Times bestselling author of The Righteous Mind


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Juliette Delay