Creative Capitalism?


If you feel that capitalism could create something better, or that it’s just fine as it is, then check out the Creative Capitalism discussion here. Contributors include: Nancy Birdsall, Esther Duflo, Bill Easterly, Michael Kremer, and Martin Wolf among many others.

The site expands on Bill Gates’ talk about creative capitalism in his 2007 Harvard commencement speech, and at the last World Economic Forum. In Time, he says:

“Capitalism has improved the lives of billions of people — something that’s easy to forget at a time of great economic uncertainty. But it has left out billions more. They have great needs, but they can’t express those needs in ways that matter to markets. So they are stuck in poverty, suffer from preventable diseases and never have a chance to make the most of their lives”

Many of those are the chronically poor. Read the 2008-2009 Chronic Poverty Report here. We recommend increased social protection: put money into the hands of the poor through measures like contingent cash transfers. Then they have more resources with which to shape the markets and societies in which they make their livelihoods and their lives. But watch out for the counter-attack by some of the world’s wealthy who don’t want the poor to challenge their political power: not everyone is as generous as Bill Gates.


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4 Responses to “Creative Capitalism?”

  1. arjunchandra Says:

    Generosity has nothing to do with philanthropy in my humble opinion. Not wanting to get into a debate on terminology, everything that we do (create/destroy) has an interest behind it at the most basic level. The ones who realise a need to make poverty history because it will ultimately benefit them, do so (imagine the loss of a billion resources/human brains, which is the only hope we have to do what we want to do i.e. have fun doing something). The ones who cannot do the math, try to do it within a cocooned mindset (i.e. IMHO, the capacity of the human brain to think about stuff not affecting them directly decreases exponentially with the distance from this cocoon of cooperation), and come up with a biased answer, making them ‘richer and richer’ which means the poor get poorer. So, it is not about giving money away when you see people dying, but creating a sustainable means for them to cooperate with each other (including yourself) and finding ways to get them to hop on and ultimately create more, is what I call philanthropy. In short, be creative and get help/create jobs. The rest sorts itself out?

  2. Emeka Chiakwelu Says:

    Bill Gates: Creative capitalism is the wave of the future ? 01/27/08
    “I like to call this idea creative capitalism.”
    -Bill Gates
    When Bill Gates the founder of Microsoft and the world richest person speaks, everybody listen – presidents, bureaucrats, CEOs, and who is who. So when he calls for creative capitalism at Davos during the gathering of the world political and financial elites under auspice of the World Economic Forum everybody was taking about this new concept he was propounding. All Bill Gates was saying is the application of free-enterprise and market forces to ease suffering among the poor and the economic outsiders. Gates is not abandoning capitalism, rather look for ways to use the tool of capitalism to ameliorate hardship to the billions of suffering masses across our globe. Creative capitalism can be precisely referred to as a positive social responsibility of businesses. When businesses especially those transnational corporations become good neighbors by partaking in solving the problems of their environments and giving back to the community, they can be become a greater good in establishing a mutual benefit relationship. When corporations are solely concerned about their bottom lines and are devoted on taking and taking, then this exploitative capitalism does bring antagonism and schism among the parties. Nothing is wrong nor prerogative about capitalism and profit-making, the idea of creative capitalism is to put a humane face on capitalism. This is good because the acceptance of capitalism will be guaranteed and its longevity will be boldly pronounced especially in the emerging markets.
    The application of creative capitalism can be a force in tackling some instabilities in some restive regions of the world. Take for instance the case of Niger Delta, those big oil companies do not necessarily have to wait for the ineffective native government to act, they can aid in solving problems by acting responsible and provide technology, jobs, schools and amenities to the locals. “We have to find a way to make the aspects of capitalism that serve wealthier people serve poorer people as well,” Gates told an auditorium packed with corporate leaders and politicians at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum.
    Gates enumerated how business worldwide can expand the reach of capitalism to offer the benefits of science and technology to the least of us. This is very noble of Bill Gates but he has to do more convincing to the capitalist and investor whose ultimate motivation seems to be the bottom line. My suggestion to Mr. Gates is to nurture a school of thought that will amplify and foster this new brand of capitalism. The school of thought will gather men and women of goodwill with capitalistic disposition and yet willing to look beyond humongous profit in order to better our collective humanity. This can be doable. With urgency in his voice, Gates said “If we’re going to find a sustainable way to help those who can’t pay, we have to use self-interest and caring – capitalism and philanthropy – to direct attention to people who have been left behind, such a system would have a twin mission: making profits and also improving lives for those who don’t fully benefit from market forces.” Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which supports health care in developing countries and provide research funds on effective measures to deal with the world health problems from grassroots and local community perspectives are the true examples of creative capitalism.

    Africa Political and Economic Strategic Center (Afripol) is foremost a public policy center whose fundamental objective is to broaden the parameters of public policy debates in Africa. To advocate, promote and encourage free enterprise, democracy, human rights, conflict resolutions, transparency and probity in Africa.

  3. Dave Richards Says:

    First, I like your blog. Great work!

    I watched Bill’s speech on Creative Capitalism from Davos. I’m of two minds of what I think. First, I think that trying to dress up token forms of corporate philanthropy as game-changing seems disingenuous when they’re usually about corporate image building. But on the other hand, I don’t think we should dismiss any contribution to providing a hand-up of opportunity to those who have been structurally kept in the scourge of de-humanizing poverty. And Bill is a good example of someone who is choosing to direct his power and wealth much beyond a token measure.

  4. Tony Addison Says:

    Glad you like the blog Dave. I think with so many problems in the world we need the raw creative talent of folk like Bill Gates focused on these big issues – the work of his foundation on health care in Bangladesh has been inspiring.

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