Thursday, September 23, 2010

"Richest man in the world" tries philanthropy

Bill Gates is no longer the richest man in the world, don't worry about him though. Carlos Slim has made billions in Latin America through tele-com, banking and construction. Slim is now putting some of his money into philanthropic efforts to improve education and health. He has found that doing good has its own set of unique challenges and has had to change or even scale back efforts.

From the Business of Giving blog at the Seattle Times, author Sandi Doughton introduces us to the newest philanthropist.

The fledgling Carlos Slim Health Institute has pulled back from its original, ambitious goal of targeting all of Latin America, a representative said at the Consortium of Universities for Global Health meeting in Seattle this week.

"Now, we're working largely in Mexico and Central America," said Victoria Márquez-Mees.

It's not clear how much Slim is devoting to health projects, but he has pledged a total of $6 billion for all three of his foundations, including ones targeting education and economic development. Forbes estimated his net worth at $53.5 billion, compared to $53 billion for Gates and $47 billion for Warren Buffett.

Among Slim's health priorities are improving maternal and child health, reducing the burden of chronic diseases and bringing innovation to primary health care, Márquez-Mees said. As a man who made much of his money in telecommunications, Slim is pushing the use of wireless and mobile technology to bring health care to remote areas.

The institute is also funding genomic research on diabetes, cancer and kidney disease, focusing exclusively on Latin Americans.

The question of who will benefit is one that the institute asks about every proposal, Márquez-Mees said.

Education is a major focus to promote healthy lifestyles.

"We're trying to get away from doctors and help people understand how they can take of their health without the use of a doctor," she said.

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