Por Bernando Kliksberg (para Safe Democracy)

Bernardo Kliksberg comments on the recent mega-donation of guru of finance Warren Buffet of over 85 per cent of his fortune to humanitarian causes, and of Bill Gates‘ decision to leave his company and dedicate himself fulltime to his foundation. Kliksberg believes that it is no coincidence that the most successful businessmen of our time are fighting to uphold corporate responsibility. These leaders are giving a message for all businessmen to be conscientious of their place in the world, and of the impact that their actions have upon others. And while Buffet and Gates cannot change the world with one decision, they can begin to make a difference in the lives of many people.

Bernardo Kliksberg is one of the foremost world experts on the fight against poverty. From Washington he directs the Inter-American Initiative on Social Capital, Ethics, and Development sponsored by the IADB. He is a special advisor to the UN, UNESCO, UNICEF and other international organizations, as well as being the author of numerous books published worldwide, the most recent an international best seller “More Ethics, More Development”.

THE NEWS OF HIS DECISION ASTOUNDED BUSINESS MAGNETS AROUND THE WORLD. Guru of finance Warren Buffet (whose assets total about 44,000 million dollars) donated 85 per cent of his fortune to humanitarian causes. The majority of Buffet’s donation went to the Gates Foundation, enabling the patrimony of Microsoft President Bill Gates’ foundation to reach 60,000 million dollars. The annual budget for the United Nations is only about 11,700 million dollars.

The Gates Foundation was created only four years ago by Bill Gates and his wife Melinda and has been leading the battle against illnesses that affect poor people around the world, primarily in Africa.

Normally philanthropists demand that their donations carry their name. But as Murria points out, Buffet has taken a new path. He gave his massive fortune to the foundation of another man and did not even ask for his name on the door. And he has insisted that the money be used as soon as necessary and not saved up for generations to immortalize his legacy.

Buffet is 75 years old; Gates, 50. He asked that the money be spent during the lifetime of Bill and Melinda Gates.

The mega-donation arrived only a few days after the wizard of technology, Bill Gates, announced that he was leaving Microsoft in 2008 in order to dedicate himself to his foundation.

Both Buffet and Gates believe that it is essential to uphold corporate responsibility and are spending their fortunes and their time in finding solutions for the problems of the world.

Their decisions will not change the planet. Even by spending 3 billions dollars a year, the aid would only amount to about one dollar for every one of the 3 billion people living in poverty that make up half of the world’s population. Deeper more effective transformations will be much slower moving. But changes can be made. With careful planning, the lives of many people can be saved by forming coalitions with governments, international organisms, and civil society. Gates is well on the path.

A million people a year die of malaria, the majority of them children. With only two dollars a year, these children could afford mosquito nets to save their lives.

The AIDS epidemic affects over 25 million Africans. It has cut down life expectancy in Africa to 46 years old. If the proper medicine were available, many lives could be saved. And if there were proactive educative campaigns on prevention and contraception throughout Africa, infection rates would drop. Malaria and AIDS are two of the issues that the World Health Organization, the Gates Foundation, governments and social activists are working to solve.

And the time has come for all of the businessmen of the world to follow the example that these leaders are setting.

Recent reports by the UN have revealed that over 100,000 people die of hunger every day. Every five seconds a child under ten years old dies of starvation, and every four minutes a person loses his sight because of a lack of vitamin A.

The time has also come for Latin American businessmen to take on their responsibilities. According to the Pan American Health Organization about 190,000 children die every year in Latin America, and 23,000 mothers die during pregnancy or in childbirth of preventable causes related to poverty.

The richest most successful men in the world have begun to set the example.

Will Latin American businessmen follow it? Will the rich begin to integrate themselves into the fight for the public good? Will what Gates and Buffet have started become the lungs and mouth of those who live on this planet and have no voice?

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