Jacqueline Novogratz, founder and CEO of Acumen Fund, describes how her firm is seeking to reinvent philanthropy. By following rigorous business principles, Novogratz has helped fund entrepreneurs developing solutions for clean water, sanitation, and malaria -- with the larger aim of eradicating poverty.
Jacqueline Novogratz is founder and CEO of Acumen Fund. Prior to starting Acumen, she worked at the Rockefeller Foundation, where she created and directed the Philanthropy Workshop and the Next Generation Leadership program.
Novogratz has also worked at the Joyce Mertz-Gilmore Foundation and has served as a consultant to UNICEF and the World Bank in various African countries. She helped found a micro-finance institution for women in Rwanda and began her career in international banking with Chase Manhattan Bank.
Novogratz holds an MBA from Stanford and a BA from the University of Virginia.
Voluntary, organized efforts intended for socially useful purposes. Philanthropic groups existed in the ancient civilizations of the Middle East, Greece, and Rome: an endowment supported Plato's Academy (c. 387 BC) for some 900 years; the Islamic waqf (religious endowment) dates to the 7th century AD; and the medieval Christian church administered trusts for benevolent purposes. Merchants in 17th- and 18th-century western Europe founded organizations for worthy causes. Starting in the late 19th century, large personal fortunes led to the creation of private foundations that bequeathed gifts totaling millions and then billions in support of the arts, education, medical research, public policy, social services, environmental causes, and other special interests. SeeAndrew Carnegie; B'nai B'rith; Bill Gates; George Peabody; Rockefeller Foundation; Straus family.
Mark, you can belittle people all you want but all it will do is turn them off to your arguments. No one ever won an argument through insults.
Your idea of freedom is puzzling. In our society, one must either work or starve. To suggest that all labor is voluntary is misleading at best; in many circumstances an individual has no good choices before them, only bad ones. And I have yet to find a convincing argument as to why an individual should be demeaned in order to survive. To put it another way: who deserves to work in a sweatshop, and why?
Your idea of justice is also troubling. Our system is at its very core unjust; some are born rich, some are born poor. Some are born able-bodied, some are born disabled. But we are also born beholden to the people around us. None of us learned how to talk on our own, or how to read and write on our own. None of us made every stitch of clothing we ever wore, or harvested the food for every meal we ever ate. In that sense, Balthazar is right: we are a collective. And no person succeeds on their own either; successful business have their employees, their investors, and even their customers to thank for that success. So no, all profits from a business are not wholly conjured from the market by the owner of said business. It's a team effort. And the fact is that sometimes some members of that team are not adequately compensated for their part in its success.
As for blaming Balthazar for his circumstances, I have to ask: what did Paris Hilton do to earn her station in life? Nothing. She was born rich. It is not her fault she is rich, nor is it a poor person's fault if they are born poor. To the degree where a person can control their own actions, they are responsible. But you imagine a utopia (yes, a utopia) where each individual is in total control of their destiny. Nothing could be further from the truth. We are each of us at the mercy of others, at the mercy of nature, at the mercy of blind chance. To imagine oneself as the master of one's destiny is to severely overestimate one's power and importance.
Moreover, not everyone suffers the same price for their failures. George W Bush made a number of critical errors during his career, leading to failed business ventures and thousands of dollars lost. Yet his famous, wealthy family kept bailing him out, and he was even able to become president of one of the most powerful countries in the world. Meanwhile, the average entrepreneur whose first business fails often does not get a second chance; no one will lend them more cash, the bills are mounting up, and they get stuck in some dead-end job just so they can make ends meet. How many of those individuals could also have been president, given the chance? Apparently, we as a society don't care. Which is a shame, because the next question is even more important: how many of those individuals could have cured cancer?
Ultimately Mark, your assumptions about reality and life would only make sense if every person was identical. If our bodies, our upbringings, and our starting capital were all the same, we would have a level playing field, and those who succeeded would have done so based on personal merit. But what sort of strange world would that be? There would be a 100% estate tax, as inheritance clearly has nothing to do with personal ability - it's merely luck that some are born into money. All schools, all towns, all buildings would be identical. Here in our reality, the opportunities, education, and home life are uneven, and they produce uneven results. A meritocracy we ain't!
And even in this mythic meritocracy, we would have to make allowances. For those who suffered life-long debilitating injuries because someone else rear-ended them on the highway, even though they were obeying all traffic laws and monitoring their surroundings. For those who were robbed (despite taking all reasonable precautions) and deprived of property at a crucial point in their business' unfolding. For those who bought property that turned out to be tainted by a carcinogen humanity had not yet learned how to detect. So to those who say that an individual gets what they deserve in life, I'm sorry, no - reality is not so neat. And without that basic assumption, there is no justification for poverty.
Your incoherent, rambling ideas sound like those heard at college Marxist rallies. Your arguements, envy and anger are tired. Corporations are not undemocratic. People vote to invest in them freely or not. Consumers vote to purchase goods and services or not. The free market, with voluntary cooperation and exchange is the essence of democratic life. The most vociferous supporters of a minimum wage are on the political left. You seem to believe that unskilled, uneducated workers are worth a lot more than the market of voluntary exchange warrants. The old Marxist Labor Theory of Value has been discredited, yet you cling to it with a puzzling ferocity. Tell me, Balthazar, how much does a high school kid deserve to peel potatoes or wash dishes at a restaurant? You seem to imply that the minimum wage is "legislated poverty," and that a "fair" wage ought to be paid. How much?
Your bizarre question regarding forced sabbaticals upon those at 45 makes no sense, as an analogy to what I have said or anything in this thread. I oppose government coercion of all kinds. I oppose minimum wage laws and most labor legislation because they interefe with free persons contracting voluntarily. This meddling hurts businesses, workers and societies. I believe a free person should be able to purchase whatever he wants from whomever he wants. PERIOD. I am against labor unions, guilds, government certifications for people to be engaged in a field and every violent, coercive, protectionist policy.
I am for FREEDOM of the individual. I do not think it is just to take the hard earned wealth of one person and give it to another person to whom it does not belong. PERIOD. I think our politics, fueled by the envy, jealousy and greed of weak, unmotivated, irresponsible people is dangerous. I think NO able bodied person should get government benefits. I think some people have, through their own bad choices and lack of character, a lack of skills, education, intelligence, and hard work ethic making them worth less than minimum wage for certain types of work. I think, as Freiderich Hayek did, that . . . "Collectivism is slavery." I think I owe you nothing and that you have a right only to what you have earned, invested and created on your own. I think we have a moral obligation to care for those who CANNOT care for themselves due to physical or mental illness. I believe government does NOTHING efficiently or well. I oppose unemployment insurance. I oppose universal suffrage. I think if you pay no Federal income taxes, you should not have the vote. I think if you are on government assistance, you should not have the vote. I think that those who criticize "unfettered capitalism" have no idea what they are talking about, since the last time anything even close to "unfettered capitalism" has been in effect was 19th century England. We are so far from a free market because of government meddling in our lives that claiming we need more regulation and government intrusion has ZERO credibility.
Balthazar, while I feel sad that you are going to live in a tent and sleeping bag, you must accept that you are responsible. My Mother told me when I was a boy that I would know I was a man when I realized that everything that happens to me is my own fault. Perhaps you should have been more responsible and saved throughout your life or learned to set priorities more prudently. Or perhaps you could have developed your God given potential by extra classes or training to increase your worth in the labor market. As you can see, the mirage of a government safety net is not a plan for one's future. "Social Security" is no substitute for saving and investing, even a little bit out of every paycheck. I have friends who earn $100K per year or more and they have saved NOTHING. Am I to feel sorry for them and be willing to support them in their old age after they squandered their earnings throughout their lives? On the other hand, I have a very close friend who dropped out of high school and began working full time at 17 years of age. He eventually got a GED. He has never had a credit card, owns his house outright and put two boys through college, with an annual income of $40 - $60K per year. He has a relatively large investment portfolio of $500,000+ and will retire at 65 with dignity, knowing he did it himself. His house is not a fancy one. It is not in the best part of town. He never had a car payment in his life. He is a FREE MAN.
Tell me, Balthazar, which society has produced a better standard of living for the common man than that created by free-market capitalism? Why should people vote to be shaken down by their fellow citizens who behave irresponsibly? Is it just to confiscate my wealth under penalty of a jail term (taxes) and give the money to you or someone else?
You do not wish to be free. You do not wish for me to be free. You want the government to violently control people and create some type of utopia. Hasn't this been tried to horrific effect enough?
After referencing "those with no skills, little education or new to the work force", Mark Sullivan argues, "Low wages are for entry level and unskilled workers."
Mark, what justification do you suggest exists in a vaunted democracy to support your hypothesis that wages of poverty are appropriate for "entry level and unskilled workers" or any citizen and such wages of poverty, and poverty itself, may be legislated?
Extending your casuistry, would you also argue for your vaunted democracy to also legislate that at age forty-five, because they have received sufficient benefits from employment based on experience, education and the generosity inherent in capitalism by that time in life, all such citizens use those benefits for survival (an unpaid sabbatical as it were) and have no employment for five years or would you propose that such legislation allow those citizen workers reaching age forty-five (sabbatical age) to find employment at wages of poverty for a period of ten years?
Such wage legislation as exists in America, Mark Sullivan, did not arise from the "Marxist types" for whom you hold such vitriol, it was written and enacted by and for capitalists.
Capitalism, Mark Sullivan, cares only about profit. Given the wage and labor laws, the environmental laws, the safety laws, and the social laws such as Social Security and Medicare, provide just one reason for any true capitalist to invest in American labor since capitalists must compete in a world market which provides cheaper labor and friendlier laws to capitalists, thus enhancing profit opportunity. Keep in mind banks are lending bailout money - to the American government.
In California, capitalists through their corporations are trying to get rid of environmental laws affecting them. They want an enactment delayed until unemployment is held at 5.5% for a year. Who is responsible for unemployment? Why the capitalists who own the jobs they take out of the American/California market. Hell could easily freeze over before capitalists in California would allow the enactment delay to lapse.
The right to do business, like personal rights, used to come with responsibilities. Those responsibilities attendant to the right to do business have been legislated out of existence by American capitalists.
How can a vaunted DEMOCRACY legislate poverty for any of its citizens?
Aside from individual poverty, what is the social return on that investment of legislated poverty?
Mark Sullivan, I know you do not have thought or experience based answers. You have dogma and an addictive habit for mammon. I have a lifetime of experience with capitalist employers which has rewarded me with the retirement pleasure of gross annual income l.t. $10k. I will no longer bother you or this board for intelligent responses as I am departing to live the remainder of my retirement in a tent and sleeping bag on BLM land, with no computer or web access.
Intelligent responses from capitalist apologists is like democracy in America or western civilization, a good idea.
You won't disappoint me.
Mark Sullivan suggests:"No one is coerced to work for anyone, except in collectivist states, whose philosphies probably have more in common with yours than those of free states."
Mark, all states are collectivist by definition and form. The only 'free state' is the attitude assumed by an individual.
A capitalist oligarchy is a collectivist state which benefits a few at the expense of the many. "… ay, we win the food we eat from out of the mouths of starving babes." H Rider Haggard, She
Mark Sullivan suggests, "It's the collectivist, Marxist types like yourself who have insisted on a minimum wage."
You make an ass of yourself with your assumptions. I have not insisted on a minimum wage. I have merely chronicled its existence as legislation in a society which claims holy democracy. How can a democracy legislate poverty for its citizens, Mark?
Mark Sullivan suggests, "No one is coerced to work for anyone, except in collectivist states, whose philosphies probably have more in common with yours than those of free states."
Since all states (societies) are collectivist, and the united states of America are capitalist oligarchies, one must survive within the constructs and constraints of the collectivist state or face isolation from the collectivist state (prison). To participate in a capitalist state the requirement is to have capital. That requirement is not a requirement of human attribute or ability. In the capitalist oligarchy, America, the capitalists have legislated laws which allow the legal payment of wages of poverty. If I am wrong in this, refute it with evidence of legislation to the contrary.
Mark Sullivan suggests, "Balthazar, the truth is that most libertarian/free market/capitalist types oppose the minimum wage due to the damage it does in discriminating against the unskilled and teen workers.'
Mark Sullivan, the truth is that legislated wages of poverty can discriminate against the educated and talented individual and the truth is that "libertarian/free market/capitalist types" tacitly support the existing legislation as they have made no legislative effort to change the existing legislation. In point of fact, the legislated wages of poverty were enacted by and for capitalists. Capitalism requires the subsidy of cheap labor, which debases human initiative and demeans individuals. That one is educated or talented does not give one without capital the ability to force a capitalist to pay more than that which is required by law.
Mark Sullivan suggests, "Employment is a contract, freely enetered into by one free citizen (the employee) and another free citizen (the employer)."
Mark Sullivan, your statement suggests that a corporation is a free citizen. Corporations are collectivist business structures which are undemocratic in their structure. Refute this with facts to the contrary if they exist.
To survive through the role of "employee" in America's capitalist (collectivist) state, one has the choice: wages of legislated poverty or no employment. That one is educated or talented does abrogate the legislated wage of poverty. There is no "freedom" legally available for the individual with no capital other than the capitalists' "take it or leave it" for survival. And the ability for the free, capable and talented individual with no capital to homestead one's own farm, for example, as a means of survival is prohibited by the collectivist social property laws of the capitalists.
Quite frankly Mark, if capitalism were what it is cracked up to be, in a democracy it would follow that capitalism would have to survive on its own merits, i.e. through individual ability and initiative arising from no capital, meaning that capital would not be heritable. There would be no "trust" babies. Also there would be no subsidies, tax breaks, loopholes or other sleights of legislative hand if capitalism were what it is cracked up to be.
Mark Sullivan suggests, "Very few people live on minimum wage for an extended period. Low wages are for entry level and unskilled workers."
Tens of millions of American families living in legislated poverty, legislation which is exacerbated by capitalist supported illegal immigration, and retirees legislatively denied capital opportunity such that they must survive with only Social Security for income in their old age, refute your altruism, Mark.
Legislated wages of poverty (any level of poverty, not just minimum wage) are a subsidy entitlement for capitalists and a tax on citizens and an assault on the social contract.
Mark Sullivan, do tell us by what authority a vaunted democracy can legislate poverty for any of its citizens.
Balthazar, the truth is that most libertarian/free market/capitalist types oppose the minimum wage due to the damage it does in discriminating against the unskilled and teen workers. It's the collectivist, Marxist types like yourself who have insisted on a minimum wage. Employment is a contract, freely enetered into by one free citizen (the employee) and another free citizen (the employer). No one is coerced to work for anyone, except in collectivist states, whose philosphies probably have more in common with yours than those of free states. The truth is, without the minimum wage laws, starting wages for many people would be far lower, and those with no skills, little education or new to the work force will still enter into employment contracts with employers, because no one sees the minimum wage as an eternal wage. Most people are ambitious and do not see themselves as victims. Very few people live on minimum wage for an extended period. Low wages are for entry level and unskilled workers.
I know I am wasting my breath because your Marxist beliefs will never square with the individual liberty that I advocate.
American Capitalism has invested in the social policy of legislated poverty.
Capitalists are legally permitted to pay wages of poverty.
How can a vaunted DEMOCRACY legislate poverty for its citizens?
What will be the return on that investment?