For my third in this series on speakers you should cross town to see, let me introduce you to Jacqueline Novogratz.  Whenever I’m feeling discouraged about the state of the world, or the economy, I put on one of Jacqueline’s TED talks and get inspired again.  Jacqueline is the head of the Acumen Fund, an organization that funds businesses that are making the world a better place and making money at the same time. 

The Acumen Fund practices what Jacqueline calls “patient capitalism.” That means the Fund invests in its companies for 15 years or so, in order to give them a chance to get established and become profitable – and make the world better by finding ways to improve farming, deliver safe drinking water, and provide pollution-free energy to countries around the world. 

It’s an inspiring story, and Novogratz is an inspiring leader.  Her long view of capitalism means that she can say, “what we yearn for as human beings is to be visible to each other,” and you understand what is really guiding her actions and the work of the Acumen Fund. 

Her most recent talk on TED comes from a TEDwomen conference in December 2010, and the standing ovation she gets at the end is richly deserved.  Her stories will move you if you have a heart.  And hang in there to the 14-minute mark, because her story of Ruby, the 6-year old girl from the Civil Rights movement, will show you what courage and grace under extreme pressure looks like. 

Jacqueline comes across as a shy speaker, with some self-protective gestures, but her heartfelt passion overcomes that shyness and connects powerfully with her audience – and will connect with you if you let her in.  I recommend all 5 of her TED talks – and any conference where she’s speaking. 




  1. The title of Novogratz’s 2009 book The Blue Sweater: Bridging the Gap Between Rich and Poor in an Interconnected World is based on an encounter she had in high school that led to her giving away a favorite sweater to Goodwill, only to find the same sweater years later on a boy in Rwanda.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.