Jacqueline Novogratz to Receive Notre Dame Award for Pioneering Work in International Human Development

Author: Farooq Tirmizi and Elizabeth Rankin


Social entrepreneur Jacqueline Novogratz will receive this year’s Notre Dame Award for International Human Development and Solidarity in recognition of her pioneering work to combine best practices from the worlds of business, aid, and charity in the service of human development.

University President Rev. John I. Jenkins, CSC, will present the award in a campus ceremony at 4 pm on Thursday, October 31 as part of this year’s Notre Dame Forumon  “Women in Leadership.” The ceremony, with remarks by Novogratz, will be held in the Hesburgh Center for International Studies Auditorium and is open to the public with limited seating. Live streaming will be available here.

“Jacqueline Novogratz has consistently endeavored to understand and illuminate the true causes of poverty and has sought the most effective ways to unleash human creativity and potential,” Jenkins said. “Her work and achievements in the service of others resonate deeply with the values that are at the heart of the mission of the University of Notre Dame.”

The founder and CEO of Acumen, a nonprofit global venture fund, Novogratz has brought together free markets and philanthropy, investing charitable donations in businesses that provide essential services to the world’s poor while creating thousands of jobs. Acumen takes pride in being mindful of both financial and social returns on its investments.

Novogratz views people living in poverty not as passive victims in need of charity but as individuals with inherent dignity and the right to make choices for themselves.

“Novogratz’s focus on empowering the people she serves and on practical problem-solving that combines elements from diverse fields reflects the kind of innovative approach towards human development that is at the core of our work,” said Paolo Carozza, director of the Kellogg Institute for International Studies, whose Ford Family Program in Human Development Studies and Solidarity presents the annual Notre Dame Award.

Acumen tackles poverty by investing philanthropic capital—in the form of equity or loans, not grants—in ventures that yield both financial and social returns. Since its founding in 2001, the fund has invested over $80 million in Africa and South Asia in companies focused on delivering affordable healthcare, water, housing, and energy to the poor. These companies have created over 58,000 jobs and provided services to approximately 100 million people.

A graduate of Stanford Business School, Novogratz left a budding career on Wall Street to promote microfinance for poor women in the developing world. Her bestselling memoir, The Blue Sweater: Bridging the Gap Between the Rich and the Poor in an Interconnected World, tells the story of the journey that inspired her to found Acumen.

Presented by the Kellogg Institute’s Ford Program, the Notre Dame Award for Human Development and Solidarity recognizes substantial contributions to international human development through research, practice, public service, or philanthropy. Recipients are honored for standing in solidarity with those in deepest need, supporting them to become agents of their own change.  Previous recipients includeAmartya Sen and Partners In Health.

While on campus, Novogratz will speak on “Human Capital and Human-Centered Development in an Interconnected World,” at a public discussion cosponsored by the Building Bridges Mentoring Program of the Office of Multicultural Students and Services; the Kellogg Institute for International Studies; and the Burgess Lecture series of the Mendoza College of Business.  Open to the public, the event will take place at 7:30 pm on Thursday, October 31 in Mendoza’s Jordan Auditorium.

Contact:  Steve Reifenberg, Kellogg Institute Executive Director (574) 631-0517 or sreifenb@nd.edu