Today in the Journal, Robert Guth reports that Bill Gates called for a revision of capitalism at the World Economic Forum 2008 in Davos, Switzerland, what Bill referred to as "creative capitalism" in his speech today...
"In a speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the software tycoon plans to call for a "creative capitalism" that uses market forces to address poor-country needs that he feels are being ignored...
"Three weeks ago, on a flight home from a New Zealand vacation, Mr. Gates took out a yellow pad of paper and listed ideas about why capitalism, while so good for so many, is failing much of the world. He refined those thoughts into the speech he will give today at the annual Davos conference of world leaders in business, politics and nonprofit organizations.
"Among the fixes he plans to call for: Companies should create 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."
Amazing what insights can bubble up on the way home from a family vacation.
"This week's Economist had a section on corporate responsibility, and it put the problem very nicely. It said it's the interaction between a company's principles and its commercial competence that shape the kind of business it will be.
"The challenge here is to design a system where market incentives, including profits and recognition, drive those principles to do more for the poor.
"I like to call this idea creative capitalism, an approach where governments, businesses, and nonprofits work together to stretch the reach of market forces so that more people can make a profit, or gain recognition, doing work that eases the world's inequities."
Bill also spoke about how the RED Campaign started off in Davos a couple of years ago, stemming from a late-night talk with rocker Bono. As Bill said, if you allow consumers to associate with a cause they feel passionately about --while buying a great product -- they will.
Again, the full speech from Davos can be found on the Microsoft site here, titled "A New Approach to Capitalism in the 21st Century"
Also of interest: Video of The Journal's Rob Guth interview with Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates. (Jan. 23, 2008)