What do you get when the world's richest man joins with one of the world's most powerful and connected negotiators?
An association of titans that rivals the world's governments' commitment and ability to stamp out AIDS and other global health risks.
And this in the wake of Warren Buffett giving away the bulk of his fortune -- some $30-odd billion -- to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in a gesture of unprecedented charity.
It seems everywhere you look, companies as varied as Starbucks
Are we in the midst of a new era of corporate philanthropy? Is it the ferocity of Mother Nature over the past couple of years fueling this generosity? The reluctance and/or inability of governments to step up to the plate and get the job done? Or is it a new way of thinking about the distribution of wealth and resources on a planet that is projected to have a population of more than 7.5 billion by 2020?
Whatever the reason, the partnering of Microsoft's
What each Bill brings to the table
Gates, with his foundation beefed up (to put it mildly) by Buffett's donation, is in a position to make an immense impact by underwriting health programs for things such as childhood vaccines, preventing AIDS, and combating the age-old threats of malaria and tuberculosis around the world. Vaccine companies such as Sanofi-Aventis
Clinton may not have $60 billion to work with, but he has something Gates does not -- political contacts and negotiation skills to persuade local governments to take a more active role in improving the health of the world's poorest citizens. And while Gates does his work in the private sector, Clinton has the potential to galvanize and unite not only governments, but also activists and the pharmaceutical industry, in a common cause. The impact the partnership could have is tremendous -- the beginning of the first "super NGO."
"It's not an exaggeration to say the two Bills are leading the world in the fight against AIDS," says Trevor Neilson, former spokesman for both President Clinton and the Gates Foundation.
So, what exactly do the two propose to do together? Consider a project that the Gates Foundation undertook with Merck
And that's where Clinton steps in.
So far, Gates and Clinton have little in the way of a formal arrangement, but next month they will solidify their partnership with a high-profile joint appearance at the International AIDS Conference in Toronto. And this week, the two Bills traveled and spoke together in Africa about AIDS.
It remains to be seen exactly how closely the two Bills will work together and what they will be able to accomplish, but the current trend toward high-profile megaphilanthropy among corporate, political, and entertainment giants (think Angelina Jolie and Bono) can only bring a surge of desperately needed help to the global community.
From Billanthropy to Foolanthropy
At The Motley Fool, we've had our own philanthropic endeavor (with a cute name) for nine years running now. In keeping with the spirit of expanding our own corporate giving, the Fool has coupled with Hilton Family Hotels this year in our annual charity drive, Foolanthropy. Although we may not have $60 billion to throw around, we have raised an impressive sum, with the help of our generous readers, for charities ranging from the Humane Society of Louisiana, Mercy Corps, and Heifer International to Habitat for Humanity, Doctors Without Borders, and First Book.
What type of investor are you? Microsoft is a Motley Fool Inside Value pick, and Merck and GlaxoSmithKline are Income Investor selections. Starbucks and Whole Foods are Stock Advisor picks, and Dell is both a Stock Advisor and an Inside Value pick. Take the newsletter that best fits your investing style for a free 30-day spin.