Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates called for a new “creative capitalism” on Thursday to help the world's 1 billion poorest who live on less than $1 a day.
Gates, one of the world's richest men, said he was not dumping the basic tenets of capitalism but argued that market forces must be better used to address the needs of those left behind by advances in technology and healthcare.
“We have to find a way to make the aspects of capitalism that serve wealthier people serve poorer people as well,” he told the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum. “I like to call this idea creative capitalism.”
The speech to top businessmen and politicians in Davos reflects Gates's growing focus on philanthropy. Gates built Microsoft into a formidable and sometimes controversial money machine, which has been accused in the past of abusing its market position.
But he will retire from full-time employment at Seattle-based Microsoft at the end of June to concentrate on his charitable organisation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The organisation, founded in 2000, supports projects to improve health, reduce poverty and increase access to technology.
Gates said the self-interest behind capitalism had driven multiple innovations but to harness it to the benefit of all required the system be refined.
Greater focus on recognition for improving the lives of others could provide a spur for companies to focus more on making money out of providing valuable products at affordable prices to the world's poor.
He urged multinationals to pledge the services of their top people to the work. “This kind of contribution is even more powerful than giving cash or offering employees time off to volunteer. It is a focused use of what your company does best,” he said.