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We put Jacqueline Novogratz of the Acumen Fund on the cover of Inside Innovation some months ago as an example of the growing importance of social entrepreneurship and now Bill Gates has embraced the idea as well here at the World Economic Forum. The whole idea of philanthropy and corporate responsibility is morphing into the concept of promoting profitable enterprises that deliver housing, water, food, education, health and other basics to people at the Bottom of the Pyramid. Gates is coming late to this trend but the huge clout of the Gates Foundation with its billions of dollars will give the important movement an important push.
Gates calls his own vision of social entrepreneurship "creative capitalism" and had this to say to the packed Conference center hall Thursday night:
"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 listed several ways for corporations to "stretch the reach of market forces to bring the benefits of science and technology to everyone," and urged CEOs to have their top brains devote a part of their time to solving problems faced by the world's poor.
He cited the example of a partnership between the World Health Organization and an Indian pharmaceutical company to sell meningitis vaccines to poor people in African countries at a controlled price which is lower than competing vaccines.
The Acumen Fund is a non-profit venture capital firm. Sounds like something Bill should support.
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