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Bill Clinton on Philanthrocapitalism

“In Philanthrocapitalism, Matthew Bishop and Michael Green show the remarkable extent to which private wealth can advance public good by applying entrepreneurial skills, speed, and score-keeping to our most persistent challenges,” writes former President Bill Clinton in the foreword to the new paperback edition of Philanthrocaptalism. We are honoured, and grateful to him. In the rest of the foreword he explains why he has become such an enthusiastic fan of our book:

“In politics, most debates focus on two questions: What are you going to do? and How much money are you going to spend on it? Too little attention is given to what is often the most important question: How are you going to do it?

Bishop and Green document the relentless focus of the best social entrepreneurs on the How questions: How to keep HIV/AIDS and malaria from killing people? How to empower and educate the poor? How to reverse childhood obesity in the United States? How to fight climate change and increase economic opportunity? How to get other people working on these problems? How to turn good intentions into positive changes? How to do it faster and at lower cost than government alone can?

I often say my foundation is in the “How” business: We’re helping deliver AIDS medicines to adults and children, more than 2 million of them in the developing world, by changing the business model from high margin-low volume to high volume-low margin. We’re helping forty of the largest cities in the world reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by providing new technologies at volume discounts and offering new financing options. We’re supporting the efforts of thousands of schools to create healthier learning environments by reducing the caloric content of beverages and snack foods in vending machines and offering low cost, high impact options for improving the fitness of students and staff.

We’re using the same business-oriented approach to ensure money is spent efficiently and effectively to increase economic opportunity in Latin America, Africa, and U.S. cities. You can see the same approach taking hold throughout the world. Nobel Peace Prize-winner Muhammad Yunus pioneered with the Grameen Bank‘s microcredit loans, which have helped lift more than IOO million people out of poverty across the world. The Gates Foundation has used it to save countless lives from malaria, to search for better ways to prevent HIV/AIDS, and to improve education in poor communities in the United States.

I’ve tried to increase the momentum and impact of those in philanthrocapitalism through the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI). Since 2005, we’ve invited philanthropists, political leaders, business executives, leaders of nongovernmental organizations, college presidents and students, and citizen activists from around the world to meet in New York at the opening of the U.N. They discuss the big how questions, develop their own answers, and make specific commitments to implement them. To date, members have made more than 1,400 commitments valued at $46 billion that have already improved the lives of more than 200 million people in 150 countries. CGI is, in many ways, the laboratory in which the authors’ ideas about philanthrocapitalism are tested.

At its best, philanthrocapitalism reinforces and amplifies the time, money, skills, and gifts given every year by people who are not rich, and it informs and enhances government policies. As Bishop and Green clearly demonstrate, the twenty-first century has given people with wealth unprecedented opportunities, and commensurate responsibilities, to advance the public good.

This is an important book. Our interdependent world is too unequal, unstable, and, because of climate change, unsustainable. We have to transform it into one of shared responsibilities, shared opportunities, and a shared sense of community. Bishop and Green show us how to do it.”

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