Saturday, February 25, 2017

Dear Warren: Bill and Melinda Gates’ Annual Letter

     For a long time, letters have been used for correspondence and information sharing and for this year, Bill and Melinda Gates’ annual letter was addressed to Warren Buffett.

     Warren Buffet is the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, the third richest person in the world with a net worth of $60.8 billion and a dear friend of Bill and Melinda Gates who pledge to give back 99% of his wealth to society. The annual letter discusses the progress and changes that took place in the last 25 years and how the donations of philanthropists like Buffett had greatly changed and is continuously changing the world.

     Bill Gates, the richest person in the world according to Forbes Magazine together with her wife Melinda believe in the value that the best investment any of us can ever make is in the lives of others.

     In a world full of selfish people, we are blessed to have someone like Bill and Melinda who devote their effort, wealth and most especially their time to find cure to the world’s diseases and challenges. Bill Gates hailed as one of the most influential person of the 21st century and the brilliant man who pioneered an industry and created an empire because of his wise business decisions left his job at Microsoft to fully devote his time on the Gates’ foundation to help the world’s poorest.

     The annual letter revolves around important numbers; numbers that Bill and Melinda watch closely to guide their work and to measure their progress. Let me share to you the important numbers mentioned in the letter in a nutshell:

  • 122 Million- Bill and Melinda’s favorite number because there were 122 million children lives saved since 1990. 122 million children would have died if mortality rate had stayed where they were in 1990. According to Bill and Melinda, saving children lives is the best deal in philanthropy. 

  • 86%- percentage of children worldwide who receive basic vaccine, the highest percentage in history. As mentioned in the letter by Melinda, vaccines are the biggest reason for the drop in childhood deaths and for every dollar spent on childhood immunizations, you get $44 in economic benefits. 

  • 1 Million- Number of babies who die on the day they were born. Bill mentioned that last year, about one million infants died on the day they were born and a total of more than 2.5 million died in their first month of life. 

  • 45%- percentage of child deaths that are linked in malnutrition. According to Bill, “Malnutrition destroys the most human potential on the planet. Kids who are stunted are not just below their global peers in height; they’re behind their peers in cognitive development, and that will limit these children their whole lives. Nutrition is the biggest missed opportunity in global health. It could unleash waves of human potential—yet only 1 percent of foreign aid goes to basic nutrition.”   

  • 300 Million- Number of women in the developing world who use modern contraceptives. According to Melinda, contraceptives are one of the greatest antipoverty innovations in history. On the other hand, Bill mentioned that no country in the last 50 years has emerged from poverty without expanding access to contraceptives. 

  • 75 Million- Number of women in self-help groups in India. According to Bill, poverty is sexist and the male dominance in the poorest societies is mind-blowing. Additionally, Melinda wrote that as a society becomes better off, a woman’s position in that society improves. All lives have equal value is not just a principle; it’s a strategy. 
  • 1%- Percentage of people surveyed who knew that extreme poverty has been cut in half since 1990. According to Melinda, optimism is a huge asset and that optimism isn’t a belief that things will automatically get better; it’s a conviction that we can make things better.   

  • 0- the most magical number that Bill and Melinda know. It is the number they’re striving toward every day at the foundation. Zero malaria. Zero TB. Zero HIV. Zero malnutrition. Zero preventable deaths. Zero difference between the health of a poor kid and every other kid. 

     After reading the letter, a lot of information will probably be stuck with you and for me the most moving part of the letter is what Bill Gates wrote and it goes like this, “The children in Africa were dying because they were poor. To us, it was the most unjust thing in the world.” Bill and Melinda with their net worth of $75 billion could choose any path they want but instead they chose the path where they can share their heart, talent, time and wealth and undoubtedly the world became a better place because of that. Imagine the richest person shedding tears after hearing the stories of prostitutes, Bill Gates can stay at his mansion and live there blissfully but instead he met some prostitutes and listened to their moving stories.

     Through the Gates Foundation, Bill and Melinda had not simply pledged to use their resources to tackle some of humanity’s greatest challenges but together they devoted their own energy, talent and most especially their time and because of that a lot of billionaires were inspired and have pledged to give back to society. We can make this world a better place if we work hand in hand to overcome all the challenges that this world throw at us. Like Bill and Melinda, let us fill our hearts with love and kindness and let us do our best to give back to society.


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