Book Review: The Blue Sweater

Jacqueline Novogratz shares her story in the Blue Sweater, Bridging the Gap Between the Rich and Poor in an Interconnected World.

She begins with a story about a blue sweater, given by her Uncle Ed. Across the front she describes the sweater as having two zebras, snow-capped mountains their backdrop. The sweater was her favorite and she wrote her name on the tag. One day when she wore the sweater, a group of high school boys made fun of it. Her Mom drove her to Goodwill the same day to pass it on. As a twenty-five year old, she finds herself in Rwanda establishing an institution for microfinance. A young boy walked toward her on the road, wearing her sweater, verified by the labeled tag. The blue sweater became her story, to signify how deeply we are all connected.


Our actions-and inaction- touch people every day across the globe, people we may never know and never meet.


Ms. Novogratz began as a highly successful international banker with Chase.  Following her heart she traveled to Africa spending significant amounts of time in Rwanda and Kenya. She worked with a team to establish micro lending to the woman of Rwanda and Kenya, including strengthening a bakery business run by a large group of woman.


They say a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. I took mine and fell flat on my face.


She faced many hardships and long hours, including earning the respect of the African woman she worked alongside. These dear women make the book even more enjoyable to read, the countryside of Africa beautifully described and the resilient woman inspiring. After many years in Africa she decided to gain more management skills by studying at the Graduate School of Business at Stanford.  After graduation she developed a philantrophy workshop at the Rockfeller Fellowship. There she empowered and taught young leaders to make a difference.


At Stanford, her beloved professor John Gardner sharpened her vision and taught her the two most important skills for her to teach her own students.

  1. The most important skill needed to serve others is listening to them.
  2. After listening, focus on supporting others to do what they already do well rather than running programs yourself.

During her time leading the workshop, the Rwandan genocide took place. The last part of the book talks about her return to Rwanda and the fate and role the woman she had worked so closely with had played in that dark time of history.


She went on to establish the innovative Acumen Fund

She is a courageous woman and transparent in her own failings. With compassion she encourages us to action by granting dignity to the poor through microfinance.



Place yourself in the proximity of renewal.

You can read more about established micro finance organization Kiva

2 thoughts on “Book Review: The Blue Sweater

  1. Pingback: Girl Rising Book and Teacher Resources | about proximity

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