Bill Gates reflects on philanthropy in post-Microsoft career
Published Saturday, September 17, 2016 9:00AM EDT
Microsoft founder Bill Gates says there are some surprising similarities between his former position as the head of one of the world's most influential technology companies, and his current role as one of the world's most well-known philanthropists. However, he admits that his current pursuits are often more challenging, as it can be extremely difficult to rally foreign governments to his cause of eradicating diseases such as tuberculosis, malaria and AIDS.
Gates spoke at length about some of the biggest challenges he faces in his philanthropic endeavours, during a wide-ranging interview with CTV National News Chief Anchor and Senior Editor Lisa LaFlamme. The billionaire stepped back from his Microsoft duties a decade ago to work with his wife at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, in hopes of using their wealth to improve healthcare infrastructure in developing countries.
"It's been a steep learning curve," Gates said of his transition from tech mogul to philanthropist. Gates said he's had to learn to deal with a lot of setbacks and difficult situations, particularly in politically unstable countries where it can be hard to deliver aid to the ailing citizens who need it. "You have to be willing to see that sometimes the governments in these poor countries don't come through. You have to think about that as a constraint," Gates said.
However, Gates says he's still been able to push through some of the philanthropic goals of the Global Fund, which is partially supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, using some of the skills he developed at Microsoft. "The skillset is surprisingly similar," he said. "It's the same type of struggle. Here, we're fighting disease and we have to align everybody and get people partnered," Gates said. "With Microsoft, (it was about) making sure people wrote to the Windows platform and (establishing) partnerships… There's some similarities."
Gates says part of the struggle has been to get world governments and industry leaders on board with his charitable efforts. However, he says he's seen positive signs from the world's wealthiest individuals, who are starting to demonstrate "smarter philanthropy." He also hailed those who have joined him in committing to The Giving Pledge, a non-binding promise from the world's wealthiest families to give away the majority of their fortunes for charitable causes. Elon Musk, Warren Buffett and Mark Zuckerberg are among the more than 150 individuals who have committed to the pledge.
"We've made it a very worldwide thing," Gates said.
The Canadian government recently committed $785 million over five years to help Gates' efforts to wipe out AIDS, TB and malaria by 2030. And while Gates admits that those disease probably won't be down to "zero" by 2030, he still wants to bring infection and death rates "way down" through his efforts.
Gates is scheduled to be in Montreal Saturday for Global Citizen: A Concert to End AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The show will include performances by Grimes, Metric, Usher, Half Moon Run and Charlotte Cardin. It will be broadcast live to Bell Fibe TV subscribers on TV1, channel 1158, beginning at 7 p.m. ET on Saturday.