Got A Business Idea But No Money?

(4 pm. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

We each want to live a life of purpose, but where to start? In this luminous, wide-ranging talk, Jacqueline Novogratz introduces us to people she’s met in her work in “patient capital” — people who have immersed themselves in a cause, a community, a passion for justice. These human stories carry powerful moments of inspiration.

In her new book, The Blue Sweater, she tells stories from the new philanthropy, which emphasizes sustainable bottom-up solutions over traditional top-down aid.

So, why should you listen to Novogratz? Her bio at explains:

One of the most innovative players shaping philanthropy today, Jacqueline Novogratz is redefining the way problems of poverty can be solved around the world.  Drawing on her past experience in banking, microfinance and traditional philanthropy, Novogratz has become a leading proponent for financing entrepreneurs and enterprises that can bring affordable clean water, housing and healthcare to poor people so that they no longer have to depend on the disappointing results and lack of accountability seen in traditional charity and old-fashioned aid.

The Acumen Fund, which she founded in 2001, has an ambitious plan: to create a blueprint for alleviating poverty using market-oriented approaches. Indeed, Acumen  has more in common with a venture capital fund than a typical nonprofit. Rather than handing out grants, Acumen invests in fledgling companies and organizations that bring critical — often life-altering — products and services to the world’s poor. Like VCs, Acumen offers not just money, but also infrastructure and management expertise. From drip-irrigation systems in India to malaria-preventing bed nets in Tanzania to a low-cost mortgage program in Pakistan, Acumen’s portfolio offers important case studies for entrepreneurial efforts aimed at the vastly underserved market of those making less than $4/day.

It’s a fascinating model that’s shaken up philanthropy and investment communities alike. Acumen Fund  manages more than $20 million in investments aimed at serving the poor. And most of their projects deliver stunning, inspiring results. Their success can be traced back to Novogratz herself, who possesses that rarest combination of business savvy and cultural sensitivity. In addition to seeking out sound business models, she places great importance on identifying solutions from within communities rather than imposing them from the outside. “People don’t want handouts,” Novogratz said at TEDGlobal 2005. “They want to make their own decisions, to solve their own problems.”

Jacqueline Novogratz: Inspiring a life of immersion

TEDWomen, filmed December 2010, posted February 2011


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    • Edger on February 17, 2011 at 03:02

  1. off to cook dinner be back later to comment and read in depth. Looks like a good one.  

  2. No, wait…

    I’m not.

    And where’s the evidence that any of this blather actually translates into results? I checked out a couple of links on the Wikipedia entry for “Acumen Fund” like this article from an offshoot of the Wall Street Journal, and of course all of Rupert Murdoch’s pets are always very positive about market-based solutions to whatever, including world-poverty, but all the “evidence” that it works came from… Jacqueline Novogratz, and a link to the Times was just a paragraph about Acumen’s investment in LifeSpring Hospitals, which provides maternity care to low-income women in India at “30-50% of market rates.”


    And how can poor women in India pay “30-50% of market rates,” where 80% of the population lives on less than $2 per day?

    Meanwhile, back in the USA, which isn’t exactly a paradise for the poor, the same women would get maternity care for… absolutely nothing from Medicaid.

    But when the world is full of beautiful capital ventures like LifeSpring Hospitals…

    We don’t need no stinking Medicaid!

    Right, Edger?

    This is a bullshit initiative designed to promote the absurd idea of “free-market” solutions to poverty in shit-holes like India, and (wink wink nudge nudge likewise in the USA), and an intelligent writer like Edger has absolutely no business giving this scam any sunshine.  

  3. Momcat says…

    You cited Kerala as communist. It is not.

    And that’s very surprising to me, since I actually lived in Kerala, and walked in and out of the CPI headquarters about once a week!

    But I’m only speaking from personal experience and life-long concern, and Momcat must have gotten her info from… somewhere else, and I don’t know where, because I would bet $10,000 against a nickel that she never heard of the LDF until right now.

    Left Democratic Front is one of the two major alliances that dominate the political life of the Indian state Kerala.

    This front is led by Communist Party of India

    (Marxist) (CPI(M)).

    Since 2006 LDF controls a majority of 99 seats (out of a total of 140 seats) in the state legislative assembly. After the 2006 Assembly Election, veteran CPI(M) [Communist Party of India] leader V.S. Achuthanandan is heading the LDF government in Kerala.

    Communist governor!

    Communist majority in the legislature!

    But what the heck do I know about India, and the futility of entrepreneurial “philanthropy” where 500,000,000 people live on less than $2 per day?

    All my so-called “knowledge” comes from personal experience, and reading sources that mostly don’t even appear online, like The Roots of Participatory Democracy: Democratic Communists in South Africa and Kerala, India…

    …and the deeper background in The communist parties in power and agrarian reforms in India by P. Eashvaraiah.

    And just to answer one last question, which wasn’t really a question…

    I have no idea where you got the $80 figure from…

    In a poor neighborhood on the outskirts of Hyderabad, India, Dr. Rama Devi is on a mission to convince young mothers to take advantage of the care available at new maternity hospitals instead of giving birth at home.

    Entire families, often including in-laws, live in the one-room homes where women usually give birth.

    A woman who comes to a LifeSpring Hospital will receive prenatal care there and will get regular post birth counseling and she can deliver her child for just $80.

    So according to a very favorable article from ABC, one of the very few sources that isn’t just Acumen celebrating itself, LifeSpring charges $80 to women in a very poor neighborhood where multi-generational families all live together in one room, and that’s what I call poor, even in India.

    And that’s the last comment I’m posting on Edger’s blog, in accord with his request!

    After recommending dozens of his diaries, and posting positive comments on almost all of them.

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