At the Global Vaccine Summit in Abu Dhabi late last week, the world’s two richest men made a bit of philanthropic history.
Carlos Slim announced his foundation will donate $100 million to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), a Bill Gates-backed effort to eliminate polio.
It marks what appears to be the largest collaboration among the two men. It’s also the second time this year the two have announced joint philanthropic efforts.
“We are excited to join the Gates Foundation and other partners in the effort to end this disease once and for all,” Slim said in a statement. Slim attended the vaccine summit, which was co-hosted by Bill Gates.
Five other billionaires also stepped up to donate to the polio eradication effort, according to the Gates Foundation: New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, hedge fund tycoon Ray Dalio, Saudi businessman Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, investor Carl Icahn, Indonesian businessman Tahir and the foundation of the late billionaire Albert Ueltschi.
Bloomberg’s foundation is also donating $100 million; Dalio’s foundation is giving $50 million, Alwaleed’s foundation is giving $30 million, Tahir’s foundation is giving $25 million, Icahn’s Foundation for a Greater Opportunity is giving $20 million and the Albert Ueltschi Foundation is giving $10 million, according to an article in The Chronicle of Philanthropy.
Polio is endemic in just three remaining countries: Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan; in 1988 it was in 128 countries. It is a vaccine-preventable disease.
Bill Gates recognized Slim in opening remarks at the summit as an important new donor in the fight against polio, according to the Gates Foundation. “We now have a comprehensive plan to end polio, but we need it to be fully funded to succeed. Carlos’ generous commitment to support the GPEI plan is help the world prove that setting ambitions goals leads to big victories,” Gates said in a statement.
The total cost of the plan is estimated at $5.5 billion, all but $1.5 billion of which has been pledged.
This is the second time this year that Gates and Slim have gotten together to announce a joint charitable initiative. In February, Bill Gates went to Mexico and together with Slim announced a philanthropic partnership aimed at improving agricultural research with the aim of reducing hunger.
Neither man disclosed how much his foundation was spending on the effort. In 2010, the two tycoons’ foundations partnered on a Mesoamerican health initiative aimed at improving the health of the poor in southern Mexico and Central America.
Slim has stepped up his philanthropic efforts in particular this year. In addition to the recent partnerships with Bill Gates, Slim pledged in January to support the work of the education video-focused Khan Academy by paying to translate Khan Academy instructional videos into Spanish.