Jacqueline is not new to the TED stage. She lives with Chris Anderson, the curator of TED and also delivered a talk at the previous TEDGlobal in Oxford. Jacqueline is a pioneer in what she calls “market-based philanthropy.”
She went straight into sharing a story of 20 prostitutes in Kigali, Rwanda, who were running a bakery. They were already earning 3 to 4 times the national average but she felt they could do even better with some motivational sales training. A strange thing she observed is that when you have been living in poverty your whole life you are not used to being asked your opinion. And this was certainly the case with these women. And she also realised early on in her work in Africa that dignity is more important than wealth. After she did the training with the women there was not immediate reaction. They didn’t suddenly go out and start selling to the masses. Instead she had to lead by example. So she showed them how she did it and after that they started to improvise on their own. And the sales increased substantially.
The Acumen Fund, of which Jacqueline is the CEO, has raised over $20 million and created about 20,000 jobs since inception. “As people get healthier, they get wealthier” was another great quote from this conference. She made a plea with a very strong conviction that we must refuse tried assumptions, and get out of ideological boxes. We must demand accountability and start listening to ordinary people.