Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft and one of the worlds wealthiest individuals, introduced Harvard graduates June 7 to a new "Creative Capitalism," and encouraged them to build a concept of reward and profit that encourages governments and businesses to do the right thing.
Gates, in a prepared address at Harvards 356th Commencement, focused on the inequities of the world and challenged students to find new ways that would encourage business leaders and governments to apply the wealth of discoveries and technology at our disposal to the people and places it fails to reach.
"We can make market forces work better for the poor if we can develop a more creative capitalism—if we can stretch the reach of market forces so that more people can make a profit, or at least make a living, serving people who are suffering from the worst inequities," he said.
Gates also said we can press governments around the world to spend taxpayer money in ways that better reflect the values of the people who pay the taxes.
"If we can find approaches that meet the needs of the poor in ways that generate profits for business and votes for politicians, we will have found a sustainable way to reduce inequity in the world. This task is open-ended. It can never be finished. But a conscious effort to answer this challenge will change the world."
Gates also declared that the spread of the global information network to emerging markets and underserved regions of the world is an imperative to sustain humanitys demand for innovation and discovery.
"The magical thing about this network is…it also dramatically increases the number of brilliant minds we can have working together on the same problem…" he said. "But, for every person in the world who has access to this technology, five people dont. That means many creative minds are left out of this discussion—smart people with practical intelligence and relevant experience who dont have the technology to hone their talents or contribute their ideas to the world."
Gates, who will leave his post as chairman of Microsoft next year to head up his philanthropic organization, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, has made raising the quality of life in the developing world a priority in his post-Software guru life.
Former President Bill Clinton addressed graduates June 6 at Harvard Class Day, an event and an address typically reserved for humor and satire. Clinton challenged graduates to focus on the common bonds of humanity and cooperation among people, nations and politics.
Gates, who attended Harvard, finally received a Harvard degree—an honorary Doctor of Laws degree—31 years after he left Harvard with fellow classmate Paul Allen to devote himself to building Microsoft, the company he and Allen founded in 1975.
He poked fun at his own brief stay at the university, citing his new role at the foundation and his departure from Microsoft.
"Ill be changing my job next year … and it will be nice to finally have a college degree on my resume… I applaud the graduates today for taking a much more direct route to your degrees."