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Live from Abu Dhabi Connect the World takes you on a journey across continents, investigating the stories that are changing our world.

Wednesday's Connector: Jacqueline Novogratz

May 3rd, 2010
02:23 PM ET

Jacqueline Novogratz is the founder and CEO of a non-profit global hedge fund which fights to tackle global poverty issues around the world.

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/05/03/nova.art.gettyimages.jpg
caption="Jacqueline Novogratz is your Connector of the Day."]

Called the Acumen Fund, Novogratz created the global venture in 2001 with help from the Rockefeller Foundation, Cisco Systems and three individual donors.

Today, the Acumen Fund has contributors ranging from Bill and Melinda Gates to Google.

Headquartered in New York, Acumen has a goal of raising nearly $100 million and helping the lives of more than 50 million people around the world.

So far, the fund has raised more than $30 million and helped to support 26 enterprises in countries like Pakistan, South Africa and Kenya.

The Acumen Fund has five different portfolios which include water, health, housing, energy and agriculture.

Before founding Acumen, Novogratz founded the Philanthropy Workshop and The Next Generation Leadership programs at the Rockefeller Foundation.

She also started a micro-finance institution in Rwanda to help local businesses and entrepreneurs.

We interviewed Novogratz back in May and we're bringing her back on tonight's show because she was one of your most popular videos of 2010 so far.

Her interview was the third most popular, but be sure to tune in on Thursday and Friday to see the number two and number one most popular videos of the year so far.

soundoff (35 Responses)
  1. Jurgen R. Brul

    Hello Jacqueline Novogratz and CNN friends,

    I would like an answer from Jacqueline Novogratz to the following questions:
    – What needs to be done to create Businesses to Fight Poverty?
    – What needs to be done to Fight Poverty in order to stay Healthy?
    – What is your opinion on Children, especially the ones who are living in crisis and under the poverty line?
    – How can we motive our Children to become Good businesswoman or good Businessman in Our World?
    – What needs to be done Now to create Healthy water in the Gulf of Mexico?
    – What needs to be done to create Consumer Affordable Friendly Energy in order to Fight Poverty?
    – What can we expect from you in 2010?
    – How are you inspiring people all over the world to make our world a Better Healthier and Beautiful Place?

    I am awaiting Jacqueline Novogratz’s replies.

    Jurgen R. Brul
    Hometown: Paramaribo
    Country: Suriname

    May 3, 2010 at 2:51 pm |
  2. Hammad Khan

    Um I am all for giving to Charity but what I find odd is that there goal is to raise $100 million dollar and to help $50 million people. Now I am no math wise but doesn't that amount to $2 million per person? Get the feeling someone is making a whole lot of administration fees! If I am wrong my apologies but I get the feeling I am not wrong on this one.

    May 3, 2010 at 3:19 pm |
  3. tm

    Would love ur thoughts on the recent 1 million t-shirts discussion that took place on twitter and aid blogs. (PS. I think the Time Mag guy in Nairobi is writing a piece on it)

    May 3, 2010 at 3:30 pm |
  4. Jean-Michel Ferat

    Dear Ms. Novogratz,

    It is indisputable that fraud and corruption are a major hinderance to effective and sustainable development in the third world. I know this firsthand having investigated graft in the third world for well over a decade. How does Acumen address these risks to help ensure that its program funds are used for their intended purpose?

    Jean-Michel Ferat
    Forensic Analytics International

    May 3, 2010 at 3:30 pm |
  5. James Murimi

    whereas a magic bullet to fight poverty doesnt exist, Have you explored the role of indeigenouse knowledge and passion in helping the poor uplift their lives? with rampant governance issues, we know no much change has been brought by aid. In business analysts advaice us passion is most powerful in keeping one going. I have ideas and experiments I have carried out and I am convinced the ppor have their own ability and passion and we need to get closer to them to find it out before we fund great monumental projects. I have been there and done it and would urge anyone of good will to emphasize the potential of the poor to emanicipate themselves. the means of productionand enabling environment will spur the most lazy to rise above poverty.
    James (Kenyan)

    May 3, 2010 at 4:03 pm |
  6. Kevin Luande

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    I would like to tell the whole world, if you have ears you should know, how many times do you need to be told that aid has failed? Just look at Africa, the biggest aid recipient in the world and there is your answer. The more money pumped in to Africa, the more is being pumped in to the west, I think for this reason and the fact that aid employs quite a number of people in the west, has made aid alive!
    lets think of other alternative, micro-finance, investments, etc, other wise Africa will be doomed to eternal poverty.

    Dar es salaam

    May 3, 2010 at 4:24 pm |
  7. nelly asaba

    Hi Jacqueline, I think investing is a better, more active and lasting approach. Aid money has to deal with local inequality and corruption for its success. Investing in the right areas that affects and involve the needs of the local community will do better.
    You can't imagine how those who most aid money was aimed for are void of aid.
    Jacqueline, i will like to know your outreach strategy and also how you get progress feedback.
    This is such a wonderful endeavor Jacqueline and Grace and Peace to you as you carry on with love and oneness of the heart.
    I am writing from Cameroon.

    May 3, 2010 at 4:45 pm |
  8. Bert Furtwangle

    Hammad Khan

    Correct, you are no math wise 🙂

    Try your math again.

    May 3, 2010 at 4:47 pm |
  9. Felicien Mwumvaneza

    If aid is to be given in perpetuity
    then something must be terribly wrong.

    May 3, 2010 at 4:53 pm |

    Jacqueline Novogratz is doing a fantastic job selflessly and passionately and it is quite apparent thta she will reach her goals not only in raising the necessary funds but to take this up to a higher level.
    from belgrade,serbia

    May 3, 2010 at 5:11 pm |
  11. T. Lee

    Aid in the form of cash – doesn't work – because

    (a) there is no control over how it is used and combined with no real accountability, it is more often squandered than used effectively

    (b) it is most often high-jacked by politicians and others to line their own pockets. Millions and Billions of dollars in aid given around the world now sits in Swiss bank accounts for countryt leaders, etc., and done nothing for the masses who needed repair of their infrastructure and other assistance from cash-aid that never "trickled down" to them.

    What works – is technical aid AUGUMENTED by financial resources that are set up with monitoring/accountable oversight. In other words – "give someone a fish and you feed them for a day. TEACH them how to fish and they feed THEMSELVES for a lifetime".

    May 3, 2010 at 6:40 pm |
  12. Theo Cosmora


    So happy this fundamental question had made it to the mainstream. The answer is simple as shown by this analogy.

    If you give someone fish, they must come back to you for more fish. You have disempowered them by creating dependency. No one wins. Best example? Africa!

    But if you invest a little time and resource in a) teaching them how to fish, b) giving them a fishing boat and c) assist in developing markets for the fish they catch – you empower them. And you can actually share in the profits the fish they catch generates. Everyone wins. Best example? Muhammad Yunus and the Grameen Bank

    Theo Cosmora

    May 3, 2010 at 7:19 pm |
  13. Boni

    Well it inspiring to see the work you do in alleviating poverty in third world countries.Am from Kenya in a town called Naivasha.When we go big flower grow companies do big business with Europe.How can poor woman complete with such mega exporters in Global economies.And how do they get the funds?

    May 3, 2010 at 8:28 pm |
  14. Robin Hood

    Ms. Jacqueline Novogratz,
    I believe we have share a common passion and compassion towards Humanitarian causes and would like to ask your help spreading our common mission.

    I have created a Humanitarian Volunteer Documentary Social Network’ at http://www.thinkwinwin.com. Thinkwinwin is a nonprofit Social Network for Volunteers around the world to publish their stories, in Video & Photo Documentary format, about the contribution the Humanitarian effort they volunteer to serve

    I would greatly appreciate, and so would all the causes documented on thinkwinwin.com by volunteers, if you would mention thinkwinwin.com when you are promoting your hedge fund and humanitarian causes around the world.

    Thank you and good luck.
    Robin Hood

    May 3, 2010 at 8:32 pm |
  15. Boni

    Well it inspiring to see the work you do in alleviating poverty in third world countries.Am from Kenya in a town called Naivasha.When we go big flower grow companies do big business with Europe.How can poor woman complete with such mega exporters in Global economies.And how do they get the funds? Boni Founder of LOH Girls Home and school, Naivasha. Resident Mn US

    May 3, 2010 at 8:34 pm |
  16. Ross

    Hi Jacqueline,

    I want to contribute 35.6 million dollars (USD) which I inherited from my late father, in order to help 17.8 million people out of poverty. If you will just deposit 12,000 USD into my attorneys handling so that the transaction can be effected smoothly, we can be on the way to helping. Thank you from Lagos,

    AQ Khan

    May 3, 2010 at 10:28 pm |
  17. SK, Frankfurt, Germany

    Two separate questions:
    1) From the perspective of a donor:
    How useful do you consider microloan initiatives such as kiva.org to be? If I want to make as much of an impact as possible with a finite amount of money I can afford to donate, is it better placed in the hands of individuals (who might or might not pay me back and who might or maybe not employee workers in the future, thereby spreading the effect of my investment) or should one better donate money to larger charities (let's take the Red Cross as an example, or USAid, UNICEF or operations of similar size), which, due to their size and experience, have much more knowledge than the inidivdual donor as to where money is needed and how to use it without too much overhead costs.

    2) concerning your way of operations
    How does your non-profit hedge fund operate? Is it a regular hedge fund which happens to donate the profits or is the investment directed to third world enterprises (without the expectation of making a profit)? Are you essentially a business angel specialising in developing countries? And if so, which criteria do you use to select goals for investment? Is it right to assume that such an approach bypasses small companies or self-employed persons in favor of somewhat larger companies (which happen to show up on an investor's radar screen) which in turn have a large number of employees? Does this model (as opposed to kiva.org, for example) favour employment over self-help ?

    Thanks a lot


    P.S.: Is Acumen hiring? Maybe need an Oxford MBA from Latin America?

    Thanks a lot

    May 3, 2010 at 10:46 pm |
  18. Rg

    "Um I am all for giving to Charity but what I find odd is that there goal is to raise $100 million dollar and to help $50 million people. Now I am no math wise but doesn't that amount to $2 million per person? Get the feeling someone is making a whole lot of administration fees! If I am wrong my apologies but I get the feeling I am not wrong on this one."

    wow. seriously? it comes out to $2 a person.
    50 mil * 2 = 100 mil

    May 3, 2010 at 11:13 pm |
  19. Mark McKenzie

    From my experience in the Caribbean, Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe I sincerely believe both AID and investments are unboubtedly boht important and necessary. However, I find that administrative cost of charities reduces the amount of aid channel via charities. In the case of investments there are serious obstacles/barriers to investments. My question should we have a more effective monitoring and accountable system for aid to ensure that aid is produce real value added in the form of truly impacting the lives of the people in the recipient countries.

    May 4, 2010 at 1:37 am |
  20. Sarah Gingrich

    In the aftermath of the February earthquake and tsunami here in Chile, I've had the indelible images of hardship and need deeply impressed upon me. People who were once self sufficient have suddenly, and violently, lost everything; their homes, trades, and communities. I have interviewed many families in such situations and have come away each time amazed at the resiliency of Chilean people. They are not hopeless. Many expressed that "I've lost everything, but I still have my hands; I can still work". Balance that with the fact that they are living in tiny shelters hastily constructed without insulation nor windows with winter fast-approaching, and still cooking over wood fires outside. Chile is a rich nation, and is not accustomed to being on the receiving end of aid, and I think some of that national pride has lent strength to its people. But, too there is, and always will be, the need for immediate help. How can I, as a human being, lay down warm in my bed when I know there are Chileans living in tents, some with young children? We must be both wise and compassionate.
    -missionary in Puerto Montt, Chile

    May 4, 2010 at 4:12 am |
  21. Nancy

    Ms. Novogratz,
    By any chance do you know if the moneys donated to the Red Cross on behalf of the Haiti earthquake actually have been dispensed specifically to Haitian authourities and/or non-profits?

    I ask the question because I remember what the Red Cross did a few short years ago in another another crisis (perhaps 9/11). It initially used the moneys to pay its own bills and to have on hand for a future crisis.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:17 am |
  22. Joe

    Give a man a fish, he eats for a day. Teach him how to fish, he eats for the rest of his life. Raising the money only seems like first, albeit extremely difficult, challenge to making some real long-term, sustainable progress in third-world countries. First, investing in agriculture and education projects, then moving on to giving them the means to establish their own ventures, is the way to go. Independence from anyone's aid as smoothly and quickly as possible should be the ultimate goal...this is just my opinion, of course.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:42 am |
  23. Patrick Gage

    Government to government aid does not work, that is if it's goal is to alleviate poverty. Firstly, it is collected and distributed by an inefficient bureaucracy which then passes it on to a consortium of greedy contractors. They in turn are tasked with assisting ineffecient and quite likely corrupt government officials. Pounds or dollars collected in the West become pennies in the developing world, and few, if any, of the poor will benefit from those pennies.
    Effiicient aid bypasses both bureaucracies. Farmers want seed, water, fertilizer, and tools. Governments provide shiny new agricultural colleges, that never enroll a farmer, trained statisticians so they can better quantify poverty and ask for more aid, extension agents that have never raised a crop, they train health workers who emigrate to the West, and so on.
    The private sector needs to connect with the private sector in developing countries.

    May 4, 2010 at 5:52 am |
  24. Geoff

    Re does African Aid donations work??
    As I have 11 years of quality time, experience and knowledge in most parts of poverty stricken Africa, I say its 50 / 50 .
    Why, because you see some programs working but there are others that waste money by buying big expensive toyota cars , big expensive houses for their expat managers to live a luxury life in. This costs a small fortune and could be spent much better on the things that count in Africa for the people. I wont except that the expat managers have to have this as I am one of them. As westerners, one can live quite well without all the luxury trimmings . !
    This is not what people want when they donate their hard ernt money.!!!
    There is still far to much wasting and not correct use of monies meant for aid by aid companies for their expat managers and people.
    I still live and work in Africa and long to see better use here.
    I am in a training , management , mentoring role in Africa.

    May 4, 2010 at 6:37 am |
  25. JW

    As somone who lives and works in Africa I think you are on the right track. Investment particularly the sort that can bypass corrupt governments to establish real credible enterprises that generate decent jobs are teh best way to lift people from poverty.. Microfinance has it place and can be very constructive at certain levels. Unfortuantely it tends to only raise standards of living slightly. It has also fueled a lot of borrowing for consumer purchases of foreign goods like cars, motorcycles and televsions that do not not produce improvements in livlihoods and shackle very poor people with debt.

    Ultimately mainstream investment is need to diversify developing country economies away from subsistence agriculture. This is happening slowly in Africa but could be much greater if investors would start thinking of Africa as a market and not just as a charity case or a source of cheap lnbor and resources. Mo Ibrahim of celtel has made a fortune in Africa selling mobile phone servicies in time increments of as little as 25 cents. In the process he has spawned millions of small businesses selling airtime, phones, accessories and repairs across five of the poorest countries in Africa. When competitors saw thsi they piled on doing more of the same. This is teh kind of vison and investment that is needed. One need only look to the dramatic ascendency of China as economic power... Why? because investor saw the potential as aplace to sell stuff...

    May 4, 2010 at 6:54 am |
  26. Steve

    I'll save you all alot of trouble, making cash donations is a complete waste of your hard earned money. Most of it will be used in administration fees and or will be stolen by greedy, corrupt leaders of the country in which you are gerously donating. the best thing you can do is help directly yourself if possible. Personaly I feel we should be helping our own in the USA first so that in the future we can help others more effectively.

    May 4, 2010 at 7:37 am |
  27. kwesim

    all this is nonsense taking away resposibility from ther resperctive goverments does not help anybody. What is needed is somple stop subsidising agric products so that product from these countries can be sold competively in the west.
    stop dumping excess agric products in the third word destroying the local agric economy.

    May 4, 2010 at 7:53 am |
  28. Yaga

    I have to agree with the comment made by Kevin Luande.

    Additionally, I have to add, there is absolutely nothing that happens here (and it would be safe to say in the whole of Africa) without bribery and corruption. It swollows up most of the funds. There is no law and order to fight this, as it happens at the upper echelons of power (the very force behind law and order) just as much as down the ranks.

    Further, the people of Africa seem to have gotten used to "aid" in terms of food, water...... not to think on their feet and make things happen for themselves.

    Financial aid is not the way forward for this continent. Aid needs to come in the form of investing in changing the macro-environment so that it will change the way of life, change the mind set, educate them in order for them to make a better Africa.

    Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania.

    May 4, 2010 at 9:09 am |
  29. Hatem Jabsheh

    I believe one inherent flaw in the non profit world is transparency. That is why the organization I helped found has decided to implement XBRL technology which enables the real time dissemination of financial data of the organization which will ensures full financial transparency. Once this is done, organizations will be much more effective and scrutinized as to their on the ground impact. I also believe that aid alone is not the answer, rather, one has to create the tools for empowerment of the individual. Only they, the impoverished/oppressed etc... know what the solution is and we have to listen to them and create the tools for them to succeed.
    Hatem W. Jabsheh
    From Jordan

    May 4, 2010 at 10:01 am |
  30. gonsalves p.

    What is the average percentage that goes into the administration of Acumen vis a vis that which actually reaches the needy at the grassroots?

    May 4, 2010 at 10:29 am |
  31. evgeni

    aid for africa usually results in a cheaper alternative to local products, putting local farmers etc out of business since their prices are higher due to the fact they need to be able to repay the loans they took out to buy the fertiliser and the seeds or other resources
    because they usually can't repay these loans, they end up having to sell their land to some company for a tuppence
    the african farmer will spend half a year producing coffee or mais for this company earning barely enough to feed his family or plant something for himself
    when there's no work on the land he will be forced to beg in a nearby city
    aid for africa usually results in a lot of trips, meetings and token events for some rich kids and middle-aged do-gooders who made a nice fortune from business or banking
    look at all the aid that's been given to africa,the last thirty or forty years
    how many billions do you need to help one continent
    aid is a system perpetuated by and for all those thousands of people who work for various institutions,
    aid has become a business
    if nothing has changed after forty years and billions of dollars, one can safely assume
    that clearly this form of aid doesn't work

    May 4, 2010 at 10:33 am |
  32. Michaela Brenneis

    Hi Jacqueline,
    hi Becky!

    How are micro-finance institutions founded? Are there banks in the background? Are it companies that provide both credits and "hardware" such as equipment, material, infrastructure? Is it easy of rather difficult to found such a micro-credit institution?

    Thanks a lot for your answer!

    Michaela Brenneis
    Vienna/Austria, Europe

    May 4, 2010 at 2:51 pm |
  33. Estefanie Lozano

    Is there a regulation as to how much a CEO of a non-profit like this can earn? Are the donors monitoring that kind of thing?
    I'm 27 years old and I want to help the poor but I also want to have a financially good life myself and make my dreams come true, for which I need money also!
    Where is the balance?
    Estefanie Lozano
    Guadalajara, Mexico

    May 4, 2010 at 3:40 pm |
  34. Isabel Maxwell

    Hi jacqueline! Isabel Maxwell here from Israel Venture Network, pioneering and expanding the social ventures sector in Israel.....

    I imagine that you would agree with Greg Dees' argument for an innovation-based, rather than nonprofit income generation-focused, definition of social entrepreneurship. But if so, what practical advice do you have for SEs starting out, who still need that vital income generation part....

    I hope I am not too late for this question to reach you!
    Warm regards


    May 4, 2010 at 11:28 pm |
  35. jafanier

    I appreciated your efforts therefore I send somuch thanks.

    May 13, 2010 at 10:14 am |