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What Acumen Fund's Jacqueline Novogratz Said At Parsons

Posted by: Bruce Nussbaum on April 8, 2009

We had “crashers” at the Design-At-The-Edge class on Monday, including the hugely talented Allan Chochinov from Core77. Over 100 folks turned out to see and hear Jacqueline Novogratz discuss her experiences in Africa and Asia developing her unique formula of a non-profit venture capital fund to finance local entrepreneurs in water, housing, bed nets for malaria, and other enterprises that increase the well-being of consumers at the BOP, bottom of the pyramid.

One of the students in the class Erin Stumpf posted her view of the presentation on the class Google site. Here is her view:

“Jacqueline Novogratz’s speech struck a good balance between informative and truly inspiring. Her story of the Blue Sweater and the people she met and had strong connnections with was very moving. The point in the discussion I found to be most interesting was how she was measuring her programs impact not on the actual dollar return, but on how much it helped the people and communites flurish and get out of poverty. She said that a new hybrid language needs to be developed in order for financial people and donors to be on the same page when talking about returns to their investments.

Another aspect of the lecture that was especially interesting was how Jacqueline said that in order to get people in developing countries out of poverty, we must develop products and processes for them that are innovative and that meet their needs. We cannot just donate money and food as charity - we must understand their cultures, how they live and why in order to develop tools for them. There is a market of 4 billion people in emerging countries we can and should consider ‘designing’ for, in turn helping to increase their quality of life.

The idea of helping get people out of poverty in emerging countries by first and foremost understanding their needs and desires is an excellent position to start with when designing new and improved products and services for them.”

Erin nailed it.

I’ve included an earlier TED Talk on this post by Jacqueline (see above). We videotaped her and all but one of the speakers at my Design-At-The-Edge class and they’ll be available on iTunes in the near future.



Want to stop talking about innovation and learn how to make it work for you? Bruce Nussbaum takes you deep into the latest thinking about innovation and design with daily scoops, provocative perspectives and case studies. Nussbaum is at the center of a global conversation on the growing discipline of innovation and the deepening field of design thinking. Read him to discover what social networking works—and what doesn’t. Discover where service innovation is going and how experience design is shaping up. Learn which schools are graduating the most creative talent and which consulting firms are the hottest. And get his take on what the smartest companies are doing in the U.S., Asia and Europe, far ahead of the pack.

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