Addressing the World Economic Forum today, Microsoft chairman and world’s richest man Bill Gates said free-market forces have failed the world’s poor.
“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 in Davos, Switzerland, according to coverage from Reuters. “I like to call this idea creative capitalism.”
The Wall Street Journal today ran a front-page story on Gates’ speech, having been given an advance copy and an interview last week. More after the jump.
Update, 1:20 p.m.: Microsoft has posted a transcript of Gates’ speech. Tell us what you think of his vision for “creative capitalism” in the comments section.
According to the Journal, Gates is proposing “businesses that focus on building products and services for the poor. ‘Such a system would have a twin mission: making profits and also improving lives for those who don’t fully benefit from market forces,’ he plans to say.”
That sounds similar to the social capitalism espoused by microcredit pioneer and Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus, who spoke recently with Seattle Times reporter Kristi Heim.
Some of Gates’ other proposals, outlined in the Journal story: Businesses should assign their most talented employees to issues of the world’s poor. Governments should create incentives to encourage businesses to address those issues.
Gates is nearing the end of his transition toward full-time work on philanthropy. His last day at Microsoft as a full-time employee is expected in July. He will retain the title of Microsoft chairman as he focuses his attention on the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.