Image via CrunchBase
When a south London secondary school asked for an inspiring guest speaker to talk to their pupils, they didn’t expect Bill Gates to turn up.
Mr. Gates received a rapturous welcome from a hall full of south London teenagers.
His break in computing, he said, was when he was asked to fix the school timetable that baffled the teachers. “I was known as a computer nut. I’d stay on it night and day,” he said.
He told pupils how he’d dropped out of Harvard “still dreaming of a personal computer” and had begun on the road to become the Microsoft mogul.
“If I hadn’t given my money away, I would now have more money than anyone else on the planet,” he said casually. No big deal.
His philanthropy is on an epic scale. He is planning to eradicate diseases in his lifetime that have plagued humanity for thousands of years.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has already given $26 billion to fund health, development and education projects. Mr. Gates is working full-time on donating the income from an endowment worth $33.5 billion.
He told the schoolchildren how his foundation was working to get rid of every case of polio, a scourge which paralyses hundreds and thousands of people each year.
There’s a list of twelve diseases he wants to target, and he said that what had surprised him was that these illnesses had not been stopped already. “I was stunned how little resources had gone into this,” he said.
His foundation’s work is carried out with a “hard-nosed mathematical” approach, he says, calculating the impact in terms of “dollars per year of life saved”.
He is applying the same attention to detail that made him such a business success into the business of saving lives.
Mr. Gates took questions from the students and children who joined via video-link from Libya, Russia, Uganda and Kenya as part of the BBC program World Have Your Say. They asked about discrimination against homosexuals, disability, and, in the case of Uganda, the difficulty of living in a community with HIV/Aids.
“When I was your age, I didn’t know much about poverty,” he told them, describing his school as “super nice” and a place where he was the kid who was good at math.
Now he is immersed in tackling the worst diseases in the poorest communities in the world. “The goal is equity. If we don’t have these diseases, why should people in Africa or Asia?”
One of the girls in the audience, speaking afterwards, was particularly impressed that he had worked hard to earn the money that he had now decided to give.
Unprompted, another pupil described his decision to give his fortune away as “really inspiring”.
Via the BBC.