Microsoft Chairman and co-founder Bill Gates offered his vision for a new kind of capitalism that calls for business to work with governments...
DAVOS, Switzerland — Microsoft Chairman and co-founder Bill Gates offered his vision for a new kind of capitalism that calls for business to work with governments and nonprofit groups to try to stem global poverty and spur more technological innovation for those oftentimes left behind.
“We have to find a way to make the aspects of capitalism that serve wealthier people serve poorer people as well. I like to call this idea creative capitalism,” he told an auditorium packed with corporate leaders, politicians and other attendees at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum.
In his speech, Gates, one of the world’s wealthiest men, outlined how business worldwide can expand the reach of market forces to offer the benefits of science and technology to all.
He also spoke of his desire to see the world improve, adding that the pace was not quick enough for him.
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“I’m an optimist, but I’m an impatient optimist,” he said to the standing-room-only crowd. “The world is not getting better fast enough, and it’s not getting better for everyone.”
To illustrate his push toward more social responsibility, he announced that Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft Corp. had teamed with Dell Inc., the Round Rock, Texas-based maker of personal computers, to sell a Red-branded PC.
The Red brand includes products from American Express, Apple Inc. and Giorgio Armani, among others, with a slice of the revenue going toward the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. It was first announced at the forum’s 2006 meeting by U2 singer Bono.
“Red products are available in three dozen countries. Over the last year and a half, they have generated $50 million for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria,” Gates said. “As a result, nearly 2 million people in Africa are receiving lifesaving drugs today.”
Gates is a crowd-favorite in Davos, but his appearances in recent years have focused not so much on commerce but on creating new opportunities for those in poverty, or pledging millions — and nearly billions — to improve the availability of vaccines to fighting malaria.
Gates, along with his wife, run the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which supports health care in poor countries and funds research on effective measures to deal with large global health problems. To date, the foundation has paid out $7.8 billion in grants for global health.
He is relinquishing his daily duties at Microsoft later this year to focus on philanthropy full time.
Gates is no stranger to the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting, having used the 2006 gathering to announce the tripling of his foundation’s funding for eradicating tuberculosis to a total of $900 million by 2015.