Jacqueline Novogratz, who will receive the Notre Dame Award for International Human Development and Solidarity on October 31, is the founder and CEO of Acumen, a nonprofit global venture capital fund. The fund takes a market-oriented approach to promote human development by providing “patient capital,” a pioneering form of financing that combines features of venture capital and traditional philanthropy to bring critical products and services to areas of the world that are most in need.
Since its establishment in 2001, Acumen has invested over $80 million in Africa and South Asia in 75 companies focused on delivering affordable healthcare, water, housing, and energy to people living in poverty. These companies have created and supported over 58,000 jobs and provided basic services to more than 100 million people.
Novogratz chronicled her quest to understand poverty in a best-selling memoir The Blue Sweater: Bridging the Gap Between Rich and Poor in an Interconnected World, which challenges readers to rethink their engagement with the poor around the world.
Before founding Acumen, Novogratz founded and directed the Philanthropy Workshop and the Next Generation Leadership programs at the Rockefeller Foundation. In the late 1980s, she worked in Rwanda as a consultant for the World Bank and UNICEF and helped cofound Duterimbere, the country’s first microfinance institution. She began her career in 1983 as an international credit analyst at Chase Manhattan Bank.
The recipient of an honorary degree from the University of Notre Dame (2011), Novogratz sits on the advisory boards of Sonen Capital, the Harvard Business School Social Enterprise Initiative, and the Stanford Institute for Innovation in Developing Economies (SEED). She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council for Social Innovation and also serves on the Aspen Institute Board of Trustees and the State Department’s Foreign Affairs Policy Board.
Her innovative ideas have led Novogratz to be featured in Foreign Policy’s list of Top 100 Global Thinkers and The Daily Beast’s 25 Smartest People of the Decade. She is a frequent speaker at forums including the Clinton Global Initiative and the Aspen Ideas Festival. She holds an MBA from Stanford University.