Views & Reviews Review of the Week

A capital gain for the world’s poor?

BMJ 2009; 338 doi: (Published 28 April 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;338:b1774
  1. Trish Groves, deputy editor, BMJ
  1. tgroves{at}

    The world’s biggest philanthropist wants other capitalists to follow his lead. But experts are quick to pick holes in Bill Gates’s idea, finds Trish Groves

    At the World Economic Forum in Davos in January 2008 Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, argued that many global problems are just too big for philanthropists or governments to solve alone. A new system called creative capitalism is the best way, he said, for “governments, businesses, and nonprofits to 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.” Such work can, for instance, let the world’s poorest buy vital drugs and useful computers and can free up patents for treatments for neglected diseases.

    Is this a no-brainer? Not necessarily. So two political journalists, Michael Kinsley (who’s married to the former chief executive officer of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) and Conor Clarke, invited around 40 economists, policymakers, and analysts to debate the concept on a private website and thereby contribute to a self creating book, Creative …

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