The World Economic Forum is held every year for top leaders, thinkers and businessmen around the world to meet in Davos, Switzerland. The topics and discussions are over a range of ideas, but they all focus on making and shaping the world into a better place for everyone and achieving  poverty’s end. Bill Gates has been a regular attendee at these meeting and his newsletter that was released by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation lays out the three myths about poverty that do more harm than good.

The first myth is that poor countries are doomed to stay poor. Gates cited China as a prime example of this. He cites the transformation places like Mexico City have undergone from 1980 to 2011 as an example of how poor countries have the ability to truly transform themselves. Bill Gates goes on to note that seven of the 10 fastest growing economies of the past half-decade have been in Africa.

Gates go on to say optimistically that by 2035  he believes that there will not be any country that is consider “poor” by the current World Bank standards. He see countries either being in the “lower-middle income or rich” category, he sees poverty’s End.

Bill Gates’ second myth is that foreign aid is a big waste. He cites the eradication of polio as an example of aid working. Today, there are only three countries that have never been polio-free: Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Nigeria. There is now a global effort to eradicate the disease completely by 2018, which will not only save the lives of scores of people, but also save about $2 billion dollars per year in preventative treatments.

Bill Gates’ third myth is that saving and prolonging life leads to overpopulation. He cites Thailand in the 1960’s as an example. Child mortality rates began to decrease, then in the 1970’s the government invested in a strong family planning program. Now Thailand’s child mortality rate is as low as the United States and Thai women are only having about two kids each.

The message is that if child mortality is high, then families will have more children in case a fair amount of them die. But if one invests in a strong family planning program and lower child morality, families will have fewer children because they are living longer.

Gates’ foundation does amazing things every year, and by issuing this information to the public he is helping to educate and make sure that people and governments have their facts straight.

– Arthur Fuller

Sources: The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Bloomberg
Photo: The Butterfly Project

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

King is arguably one of America’s most influential civil rights activists of all times.  He was able to achieve significant political change through his non-violent protests and demonstrations, which advocated for equality between all races.  In 1964, King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work towards social justice and he selflessly donated all of the prize money of $54,123 to the civil rights movement.  He is best known for his “I Have a Dream” speech, which has inspired humanitarians all over the world.

Harriet Tubman

Tubman was an African-American who overcame slavery just so that she could save others from the same fate.  Tubman was born into slavery in Maryland in 1822 and was often beaten by her master until she was able to escape to Philadelphia in 1849. Even after escaping such a difficult life, she risked it all to return to Maryland, as well as multiple other states, in order to rescue others.  Throughout her life, she led 13 different missions that rescued 70 slaves by using the Underground Railroad.  She also spied on the Confederacy during the Civil War for the Union.

Bill Gates

Gates, Chairman and CEO of Microsoft, is one of the richest men in the world and virtually has been since 1995, but many people do not realize his immense wealth is nearly $80 billion. Exactly how much Gates has pledged is not known, but he has donated at least $29 billion of his fortune to charitable causes. He donates to multiple causes, but is very devoted to eradicating malaria and as part of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; multiple awards have been presented to him because of his humanitarian efforts.

Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa was a devout Catholic trained by the Sisters of Loreto who started her career of serving others by traveling to India.  There, she worked as a teacher, and having observed the extreme poverty existing in India, she started a new order called The Missionaries of Charity.  The main goal of this order was to look after the people that nobody else was looking after.  She spent 45 years of her life helping others and received the Nobel Peace Prize for actively helping the poor in every way possible.

Mahatma Gandhi

Gandhi moved from India to England to study law after the death of his father in 1888.  There, he studied not only law, but also two religious texts: the Hindu Bhagavad Gita and the Bible.  He remained committed to both scriptures for the entirety of his life because the Bhagavad Gita awakened a sense of pride for India in him and the teachings of humility and forgiveness from the Bible inspired him to lead India to independence from Great Britain.

For 30 years he advocated for peaceful protests and demonstrations to lead the British to relinquish India from their hold.  He was also a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize owing to his efforts and philosophy that inspired movements for freedom and civil rights around the world.

Kenneth W. Kliesner

Sources: Biography Online, ATI, Biography Online, Better Get a Website, Biography Online

As one of the richest men on the planet, a philanthropist extraordinaire with his own multi-million dollar fund and a proponent for the human race, billionaire Bill Gates shouldn’t only be perceived as the father of Microsoft — he’s a prominent source of inspiration and hope.

Following are five advocative quotes by the legendary man, certain to motivate and incite toward action:

1. “I believe that if you show people the problems and you show them the solutions they will be moved to act.”

2. “I’m a great believer that any tool that enhances communication has profound effects in terms of how people can learn from each other, and how they can achieve the kind of freedoms that they’re interested in.”

3. “People always fear change. People feared electricity when it was invented, didn’t they? People feared coal, they feared gas-powered engines… There will always be ignorance, and ignorance leads to fear. But with time, people will come to accept their silicon masters.”

4. “At Microsoft there are lots of brilliant ideas but the image is that they all come from the top – I’m afraid that’s not quite right.”

5. “The general idea of the rich helping the poor, I think, is important.”

What’s truly important to keep in mind here is that Mr. Gates, no matter how successful, is only human—much like everyone else. Due to his accomplishments, there probably isn’t a single person unfamiliar with his name in the modern day world.

However, Bill Gates himself pays attention to those in need; he donates money and funds research that is helping to alleviate global poverty.

These hand-picked quotes are only a sample of the reflective thoughts he produces; the encouraging simple truths they present should function as incentives for hard work.

– Natalia Isaeva

Sources: BrainyQuote, The Gates Notes
Photo: CNN

As the gap between the rich and poor grows, business moguls and laymen alike attempt to make heads or tails of the fate of the global economy. This week, two economists offered their perspectives: one charting the bleak demise of a growing poverty class, the other predicting a silver lining for the rise of economic development.

Business Insider picked up a chart created by Branko Milanovic and tweeted by James Plunkett Wednesday morning that tracks the growing divide between the rich and poor between 1988 and 2008.


The chart shows that while the poorest groups experienced a slight period of economic growth, the decline of the middle class has melted into the poverty line, while the elite continues to grow and dominate economic prosperity.

On the side of hope, Bill Gates predicts in the Gates Foundation 2014 annual letter that in two decades, the existence of poor countries will vanish. Gates believes the most impoverished nations benefit from neighboring countries’ advancements in technology and health care and will join a reemerging middle class.

“Nearly 90 percent will have a higher income than India does today,” Gates says in his letter.

Based on noted growth and improvements over the past several decades, Gates envisions a world in which the global economy conditions only improve.

“Today, more and more countries are turning toward strong sustained development, and more will follow. Seven of the 10 fastest-growing economies of the past half-decade are in Africa.”

While some countries only need to experience a slight boost in income for this possibility, other counties are far from progressive. Countries trapped in war and politics, Gates concedes, will fail to see the same lift from poverty that he predicts millions will see in the near future.

In the second part of Gate’s letter, he debunks the myth that foreign aid is wasteful.

“To get a rough figure, I added up all the money spent by donors on health-related aid since 1980. Then I divided by the number of children’s deaths that have been prevented in that same time. It comes to less than $5,000 per child saved… keep in mind that U.S. government agencies typically value the life of an American at several million dollars.”

Gate continues, “Also remember that healthy children do more than merely survive. They go to school and eventually work, and over time they make their countries more self-sufficient. This is why I say aid is such a bargain.”

Gates stance on foreign aid answers the question that lies between the bleak reality of Milanovic’s chart and the bright future in Gates’ prediction. By boosting impoverished communities into productivity, these nations can rejoin the global economy, which lifts the lower class and benefits the globalized market as a whole.

Despite the myth that aid breeds dependence, aid and support in fact create self-sufficiency, which is why international superpowers must reevaluate their cuts in funding to saving more lives and help nations grow.

Laura Brewer

Sources: Gates Foundation, Business Insider
Photo: Global Research Report

Below is a list of four impassioned humanitarian leaders who are fighting to make the world a better place.

1. George Soros

George Soros has given billions of dollars over the years to humanitarian organizations. He is the financier and founder of the Open Society Foundation, an international foundation that promotes the expansion of human rights and democracy throughout the third world.

Founded in 1998, the group funds and has helped institute health and educational programs while also being driven to provide “greater fairness in political, legal and economic systems” throughout the world. The program touts initiatives such as the Burma Project, which promotes freedom of expression, as well as helping suppressed minority and political groups communicate their human right grievances in the political repressive nation of Burma.

The foundations has various programs throughout countless countries promoting freedom of expression and basic human rights.

2. Jon Hunstman

Jon Hunstman Sr. began his humanitarian activities after being diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1993. Founder of the successful Huntsman Corporation, his donations have accounted for billions of dollars. He founded the Hunstman Cancer institute, a non-profit research company that builds hospitals and develops new cancer fighting techniques.

The Hunstman Corporation regularly donates money to education institutions as well.

For example, the foundation donated 26 million dollars to Utah State University to help expand the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business. They donated another 2 million dollars to enact the Hunstman Awards for Excellence in Education that reward exceptional school teachers and volunteers.

The foundation believes a strong domestic educational system will help enact significant positive change in America.

3. Tegla Laroupe

Female Kenyan runner Tegla Laroupe came to prominence in 2003 after winning 2 interntional half-marathons, attaining multiple world marathon records, and countless other titles. After retiring from marathon running, she devoted all her time to affect change in devastated communities throughout the world.

In 2003, she established the Tegla Lorupe Peace Foundation, an organization based around helping housing projects and educating children orphaned by political violence. The foundation has built schools throughout Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda and Southern Sudan.

The organization raises money through various programs, such as the Peace Races. The Moroto-Uganda Peace Race was held in the Moroto district of Uganda and helped raise money for orphaned children in the volatile region plagued by an unstable political situation and “banditry.”

4. Bill Gates

Bill Gates, founder of computer software powerhouse Microsoft, has spent his days of retirement giving back. He founded the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which spends most of their efforts fighting poverty and health risks such as malaria. The organization tackles grave crises through 4 major program initiatives.

The Global Development Division deals with food insecurity throughout impoverished communities, as well as sanitation and housing. The Global Health Division, furthermore, promotes technological and scientific studies such as vaccines and medical treatments throughout the developing world.

Their foundation also tackles domestic issues through the United States Division through supporting higher level education and high school.

The Global Policy & Advocacy Division is, in fact, the strategic portion of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which works to help advance their policies through national and international frameworks.

Joseph Abay

Sources: Open Society Foundations (OSF), Huntsman Corporation, Tegla Loroupe Peace Foundation, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Photo: Channels

“In this season of giving, we are inspired by the millions of people across the globe who give what they can in meaningful and significant ways,” said Melinda Gates. “The Giving Pledge is rooted in this spirit and hopes to inspire people to tackle problems that are inherently difficult and diverse in an effort to address the pressing social issues they care about most.”

Started in 2010, The Giving Pledge asks the wealthiest people in the world to pledge most of their money to philanthropic and charitable organizations. Started by Bill and Melinda Gates, along with Warren Buffett, arguably the wealthiest people in the world, these billionaires are determined to make a difference.  In order to be part of the Giving Pledge, people must fulfill two requirements. You must be worth at least one billion dollars, and you must be willing to give at least half of that one billion away to charity.

Fortunately, Gates and Buffet have definitely put their money where their mouth is. Bill and Melinda Gates have pledged well over the 50% requirement, pledging a whopping 95% of their wealth to charity. Warren Buffett has certainly reigned supreme, pledging 99% of his wealth to philanthropy and charitable organizations, stating  that,“…incremental wealth, adding to the wealth they have now, has no real utility to them – but that wealth has incredible utility to other people. It can educate children, it can vaccinate children, it can do all kinds of things.”

This way of thinking is what the Gates and Buffet hope that most, if not all, wealthy citizens of the world believe. Fortunately, as of today, over 120 billionaires have agreed to take the pledge. The pledging billionaires are not only citizens of the United States of America, but also come from Australia, Germany, India, Malaysia, South Africa, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom.

Many of these pledging billionaires give well over the 50% requirement and give to organizations such as, education, health, medical research, social services, and environmental issues.  Bill Gates believes that change for the sick and weary can happen, and states that, “The Giving Pledge brings people together to exchange ideas about how to be as effective as possible and smarter in our giving.”

– Amy Robinson

Sources: Forbes, The Giving Pledge, CBS
Photo: CNN Money

Philanthropist and Microsoft Co-Founder Bill Gates has been focusing much of his attention on developing and delivering a cure for malaria in impoverished areas of the world. Other tech-gurus have also recently turned their eyes into using their abilities to fight a greater cause – delivering Internet connectivity to these remote and poverty-stricken regions. While Gates obviously believes that it is important to help these disconnected nations engage with the developed world, he told the Financial Times that he finds this priority to be, in fact, a “joke.”

“I certainly love the (information technology) thing,” said Gates, “but when we want to improve lives, you’ve got to deal with more basic things like child survival, child nutrition.” And of course, Gates indeed has a good point. Perhaps connecting the world through technology is important, but is it as important as ridding the world of malaria and other diseases? Should the talents of others be wasted on connectivity and not on health and wellness?

Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, is one of those who is looking to make the internet available to billions from all corners of the world. He believes that the next wave of connectivity will be driven by mobile broadband networks sending densely compressed data delivered by extremely efficient servers. Furthermore, Google’s Project Loon seeks to bring broadband to developing countries by floating transmitters on balloons.

“Take this malaria vaccine, (this) weird thing that I’m thinking of. Hmm, which is more important, connectivity or malaria vaccine? If you think connectivity is the key thing, that’s great. I don’t,” said Gates.

Gates has not been shy about his disapproval for the priority being placed on such programs. Moreover, he continues to try to help the world in his own way, the way he believes to be truly important. Founded in 1997, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation works to alleviate extreme poverty and health crises in developing countries. It seems that Bill is indeed taking this goal to heart.

– Sonia Aviv

  Sources: RedOrbit, The Huffington Post, Business Insider

In an interview with CBS’ Charlie Rose, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates discussed the importance of innovation in agriculture. At first, Rose and Gates discussed Gates’ annual letter, including a call to the United States and other developed countries to further agricultural research. However, the conversation took an unexpected turn to a related topic that Gates finds fascinating: fertilizer.

Developing nations continue to face food shortages due to many causes, including climate change. Demand for food is constantly rising and the price of food is increasing as a result. Gates believes that the problems surrounding food-production goals can be alleviated if more investment is made in agricultural research, which includes research in fertilizer.

Fertilizers improve the growth of plants, and are made up of substances consisting of chemical elements such as manure. Fertilizers provide crops with the essential nutrients they need to fight off pests, disease, and the elements. However, insects and disease are only one issue that affects crops. Another major concern for crop sustainability is soil condition, which is drastically affected by changing weather. Fertilizers enhance the soil by allowing the soil to hold more water and nutrients, where forces like rain and wind would usually create unstable soil not suitable for sustained growth.

It appears that Gates’ fascination with fertilizer has developed since his interview with Charlie Rose. On November 12, 2013, Gates wrote an essay that appeared on saying, “I am a little obsessed with fertilizer. I mean I’m fascinated with its role, not with using it.” Fertilizer plays an important role in the lives of people all over the world. Specifically, 40% of the world benefits from crop output that fertilizer has made possible. Gates compares the innovative development of fertilizer to the creation of synthetic ammonia and polio vaccines.

One of the ways that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has advanced research in fertilizer is through supporting a joint project by the Swiss Aquatic Research Institute and the South African Water Utility. The project involves developing urine from conventional sewer-based sanitation and central wastewater treatment systems as a commercial fertilizer and is set to be complete by 2014.

– Daren Gottlieb
Sources: EAWAG, Wired, Southwest Farm Press, The Green Book
Photo: BBC

Not only is Microsoft Founder and former CEO Bill Gates the richest man in the United States, he is also one of the most philanthropic people in the world. With his net worth at the end of 2012 set at $67 billion, he could easily kick off his shoes and relax worry free for the rest of his life on some tropical island in the middle of the ocean, but instead, he is focused on solving many of the world’s hardest issues.

Since 2008, Bill Gates has stepped away from the well-oiled machine called Microsoft and devoted his time, energy, and resources to The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which he founded with his wife in 1997. The foundation has the mission to “unlock the possibility inside every individual.” They aim to do this by spending billions of dollars into projects such as improving healthcare, restricting the effects of preventable diseases in third world countries, and trying to rid the world of poverty.

Through the foundation, Bill Gates attempts to tackle the very difficult problems in the world and in the United States. Some of the ways that the foundation works is by funding grants for innovative projects, such as removing the barriers in education production, improving crop production in historically poorer countries, and making health care more efficient and cost effective.

Bill Gates not only advocates for philanthropic spending from his peers; he also actually lives what he preaches. The foundation, with the help of Bill Gates’ contribution along with many others, has been successful in building over $37 billion in assets in total for the year 2012.

What makes this foundation unique is the lack of fear when it comes to failure. The organization recognizes that in some projects, they will fail. But they believe that the “essential role of philanthropy is to make bets on promising solutions that governments and businesses can’t afford to make.” The organization is willing to take chances on organizations that share the same mission, even if it may not be able to deliver, which is an investment many other organizations are not able to make.

In 2012, the organization gave over $3 billion in grants throughout the world. This money went to many different organizations, governments, and societies that have the same initiatives as the Gateses; to tackle extreme poverty, rid the world of preventable diseases, and improve education domestically and internationally.

Bill Gates is a dynamic example one man’s capable influence towards the world’s improvement. His gleaming example gives hope to the once hopeless. The world needs more individuals like Bill Gates.

– Travis Whinery

Sources: Gates Foundation, Gates Foundation, Gates Foundation, Huffington Post, The Economist
Photo: The Guardian

Movies that Matter, Jeff Skoll

Highlight Quote: “One is the gap in opportunity – this gap that President Clinton last night called uneven, unfair and unsustainable – and, out of that, comes poverty and illiteracy and disease and all these evils that we see around us. But perhaps the other, bigger gap is what we call the hope gap. And someone, at some point, came up with this very bad idea that an ordinary individual couldn’t make a difference in the world. And I think that’s just a horrible thing. And so chapter one really begins today, with all of us, because within each of us is the power to equal those opportunity gaps and to close the hope gaps.”

Many TED talks focus on the real, the practical and the pragmatic – on harnessing the abstract powers of good and common sense of humanity in a real life way. Yet many of these talks can leave us, as ordinary citizens feeling somewhat inadequate and unable to make an impact. Jeff Skoll, producer of films including An Inconvenient Truth, Murderball, North Country, Good Night and Good Luck, and Syriana, gives us a talk about how he, as an ordinary citizen, worked his way slowly to Hollywood. Once there, he was able to make a difference by inspiring and spreading awareness through films.

Mosquitos, Malaria and Education, Bill Gates

Highlight Quote: “But I – I’m optimistic. I think people are beginning to recognize how important this is, and it really can make a difference for millions of lives, if we get it right. I only had time to frame those two problems. There’s a lot more problems like that — AIDS, pneumonia – I can just see you’re getting excited, just at the very name of these things. And the skill sets required to tackle these things are very broad. You know, the system doesn’t naturally make it happen. Governments don’t naturally pick these things in the right way. The private sector doesn’t naturally put its resources into these things.”

Perhaps the world’s most recognizable philanthropist, Bill Gates is characteristically shrewd, practical, clear, forward thinking and unexpectedly funny. By asking us to consider how to solve two big problems: malaria and education – Gates shows us how businesslike thinking and determination can solve widespread social problems. In only 18 minutes, Gates gives us a TED talk that is small in stature but big in ideas.

Aid versus Trade, Ngozi Okongo-Iweala

Highlight Quote: “But we are talking about “Africa: the Next Chapter” because we are looking at the old and the present chapter – that we’re looking at, and saying it’s not such a good thing. The picture I showed you before, and this picture, of drought, death and disease is what we usually see. What we want to look at is “Africa: the Next Chapter,” and that’s this: a healthy, smiling, beautiful African. And I think it’s worth remembering what we’ve heard through the conference right from the first day, where I heard that all the important statistics have been given – about where we are now, about how the continent is doing much better. And the importance of that is that we have a platform to build on.”

In 2007, Okongo-Iweala, the former finance minister of Nigeria and director at the World Bank, had the unenviable task of summarizing four days of TED talks. In 22 minutes, she draws from personal experience, global leaders, real-life examples and observations to illustrate the lessons from the conference regarding effective aid, morality, and the pitfalls in the current methods of development assistance.

Cheetahs vs. Hippos, George Ayitteh

Highlight Quote: “Africa is more than a tragedy, in more ways than one. There’s another enduring tragedy, and that tragedy is that there are so many people, so many governments, so many organizations who want to help the people in Africa. They don’t understand. Now, we’re not saying don’t help Africa. Helping Africa is noble. But helping Africa has been turned into a theater of the absurd. It’s like the blind leading the clueless.”

Many ask the question, why is Africa still in the state it is, with so much money being poured into it and so much work being done by so many different organizations? In this talk, Ayitteh addresses some of the problems in development; some coming from Africa itself and others with foreign sources – and more importantly, how to address them. Ayitteh’s talk can be applied to a number of other scenarios and teach us that aid is a practice that needs close monitoring and attention in order to be effective.

– Farahnaz Mohammed