Microsoft (MSFT) – Get Microsoft Corporation Report founder and former CEO Bill Gates has seen his reputation take a lot of well-deserved (it appears) hits over the past couple of years. His divorce from his former wife Melinda unearthed all sorts of tawdry details about the one-time squeaky clean technology genius and that certainly harmed his standing.
People may not feel the same way about Gates as they once did, but he remains a billionaire running one of the largest charitable organizations on Earth, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Founded over 20 years ago, the foundation has a simple mission.
“We are a nonprofit fighting poverty, disease, and inequity around the world,” it explains on its website.
It’s an organization with a global reach that has provided nearly $6 billion in direct support for grantees. That means that Bill Gates still has a very powerful voice on the world stage, even if his standing has dropped with many people. Gates also still holds a significant stake in Microsoft and, even if he has no role at the company, people still associate him with his former brand.
That makes speaking out on the global conflict a personal financial risk (which explains why so few business leaders have directly condemned Russia’s action. Gates did not quite challenge Vladimir Putin to a fight like Tesla TSLA CEO Elon Musk did. His actions, however, are closer to what former Twitter TWTR and current Block (SQ) – Get Block Inc Class A Report CEO Jack Dorsey did.
Bill Gates Speaks Up for Ukraine
As a global humanitarian (you can be a humanitarian and a person who may not always do the right thing) Gates has to deal with governments around the world. It may seem easy to side against Putin and his invasion of Ukraine, but it still makes a powerful enemy as the Russian president has not shown he can take criticism all that well.
Gates also called out for support for the United Nations Refugee Agency UNHCR.
“In a crisis, we can always look for the helpers—the people who are putting their lives on the line to aid refugees and victims of the invasion—and support them. I’m proud to support the UN’s refugee agency and urge the global community to do the same,” he said.
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Gates only allows people he follows to comment on his Tweets.
A Humanitarian Crisis in Ukraine
Gates may not be able to beat Putin in a one-on-one fight (hard to know if Musk can either) but he’s using his platform to call attention to the humanitarian crisis happening in Ukraine.
Over 1.8 million Ukrainian refugees have fled into Poland, according to the U.N. Refugee Agency.
“The UN refugee agency is ‘extremely concerned’ about the worsening humanitarian situation in eastern Ukraine, particularly in the areas controlled by anti-government forces. UNHCR spokesman William Spindler said the lack of access to benefits and services previously provided by the central authorities has drastically worsened the plight of the civilian population in these areas,” the agency reported on its website.
“This has been further aggravated by restrictions to the movement of people and goods,” he told journalists in Geneva.
Spindler made those comments on March 10 and made it clear that more resources were needed.
“The fighting makes the delivery of humanitarian aid to the many civilians trapped in the conflict areas extremely difficult. The scarcity of basic supplies, including food, fuel, and medicines, has driven up prices of available supplies,” Spindler said.
You can donate to the UNHCR here.