Friday, October 12, 2012

Novogratz and her Acumen Fund

One day, suggested I might like "The Blue Sweater: Bridging the Gap Between Rich and Poor in an Interconnected World" by Jacqueline Novogratz.  They were completely correct.  I liked it very much.  I listened to the audio book and so did Lynn, and I also bought it in print.  

Novogratz tells her own story of joining a banking firm out of college, moving into philanthropic banking and finance in developing parts of Africa and India.  She has had many adventures, actual movie stuff as well as conceptual ones as she learned the ropes of actually making a difference in people's lives.  After some 20 years of such work, she founded her own philanthropic Acumen Fund. The web site states 10 basic principles her organization learned.

The first one is
"Dignity is more important to the human spirit than wealth."

"Poverty" is not just about money. What keeps people from realizing their full potential is lack of choice and opportunity. It is this choice - this dignity - that human beings crave. Over the last ten years we have learned that working towards this fundamental idea of dignity is inherently more difficult, complex, and messy than working on solving a single technical problem. It demands letting go of the notion of solving problems for poor people. It requires listening to the poor as agents who want to change their own lives. Most importantly, it requires that we unfailingly, uncompromisingly address people's full humanity. This is where dignity starts for us all."

Novogratz has had plenty of experience of new gadgets or plans that were supposed to work miracles for people which did not make a difference, often because of limited understanding of the people and their culture

Principle #6 says:

Great technology alone is not the answer. We often say, "build it and they won't come."

Our office is littered with "the next great technology" - water filters, cookstoves, you name it - that have gone nowhere. Occasionally a new product-like the Rotavirus vaccine or the long-lasting anti-malarial bednet-can truly move the needle, especially for large-scale problems that require a single, public intervention. Usually, though, technology isn't enough.…

Just as we are slowly mapping how to raise people's spirits and lower our stress, we are slowly finding ways for all humans to have the basics of a good life.  One of the lessons Novogratz had to learn was that accountability matters.  Income flows, reputation, inventories and agreements have to be checked and validated consciously and responsibly, not haphazardly.  Teachers, officers and administrators contribute to lives by showing they care enough to track funds, hours and contracts and enforce the rules.

Main blog: Fear, Fun and Filoz
Main web site: Kirbyvariety

Popular Posts

Follow @olderkirby