We started our philanthropy because we wanted to advance equity around the world, helping to ensure that everyone has the chance to live a productive life, and to leave the next generation of humanity with a planet that is far better than the one afforded to us.
We are determined to help people negatively affected by technological change through educational advancement, economic empowerment, and social innovation. With a population approaching 8 billion, the world is changing. From resource crises such as access to affordable education to the poverty that inevitably ensues from rising income gaps, rarely has there been a time in history for new ways of thinking been more glaring.
In the beginning, the Internet was supposed to be the great equalizer, a source of information that allowed the poorest segments of society to gain access to the same resources that most enjoyed. For example, the information super highway was a way for smaller businesses to sell their local goods in the global markets previously accessible only to their larger counterparts, allowing everyone to participate without the crippling expense of advertising. Today, the promise of a “free” Internet has never been more stratified based on ethnicity, education, and income due to rising gaps in access, distribution, and use. In the United States for instance, three-quarters of households with incomes over $75,000 have a computer, compared to one-third of households with incomes between $25,000 and $35,000, and one-sixth with incomes below $15,000 on a per capita/basis. As a result, the United States has lost 17 million offline (physical) retail businesses due to a lack of affordable web infrastructure for many small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs), even as consumer demand for goods and services are at an all-time high. These merchants supply over 20 million jobs, fueling families, and sustaining hundreds of communities across the world. Solving this retail technology challenge will require some innovative thinking.
We believe there is a real opportunity for technology to have a greater socio-economic impact on the world. The old paradigm of technology as a means to prosperity in the digital economy is simply inadequate to the task. What we need instead are innovative socially-driven technology solutions that create sustainable economic growth to improve universal access, distribution, and usage of new retail-technologies through public-private sector partnerships, and namely among groups working to address rigid structural barriers to equity at the grassroots level.
We have partnered with UNICEF, a leading humanitarian development agency, to enrich the lives of working children and their families in their communities through social improvements as a result of our retail-technologies, the foundation of most economies throughout the world.
We have pledged 5% of our profits to demonstrate that we can make a difference in people’s lives, within our communities, and across the globe. By making this promise, we hope this inspires other multi-national corporations, national companies and small-to-medium sized businesses to implement social initiatives that leverage the strengths of their retail-technologies to enrich people’s lives.