Young, idealistic, and well educated, Novogratz had an admirable goal: to change the world. She traveled to Rwanda, where she found a small boy wearing a sweater she recognized as her own -- one she'd given to Goodwill many years earlier. For Novogratz, that sweater served as a symbol of the interconnectedness of the rich and the poor -- a connection that wasn't working. What the poor wanted was an opportunity, not a handout. The voiceless needed donors to listen to their ideas, not tell them what to do.
Years later, Novogratz would channel her expertise as an international banker into an antipoverty campaign. She rallied a group of African women and founded a micro-finance bank dedicated to lending to female-owned and operated businesses. Expanding her work to India and Pakistan, her progress is slow but sure, bolstered by donors and development advisers from many sectors of society: a Pakistani doctor, a Rockefeller Foundation philanthropist, a kind professor, three African women whose dedication is interrupted by the Rwandan genocide, and a visionary Indian entrepreneur.
The Blue Sweater is a thoughtful and timely book. With the recent collapse of so many large financial institutions, small socially responsible lending is the wave of the future -- in a world, as Novogratz writes, "whose bottom line is more about change than strictly about profits." (Summer 2009 Selection)