Sunday 21 January 2018

Meet the 14 billionaires who have just promised to give away their fortune

Microsoft’s Bill Gates and investor Warren Buffett. Photo: Bloomberg
Microsoft’s Bill Gates and investor Warren Buffett. Photo: Bloomberg

Ben Chapman

Fourteen billionaires have added their names to a growing list of the world’s richest people who promise to give away their fortunes.

They have joined the Giving Pledge, an initiative set up by Bill and Melinda Gates and famed investor Warren Buffett in 2010 to persuade anyone with a billion dollars in net assets to use their wealth to fund good causes.

"Philanthropy is different around the world, but almost every culture has a long-standing tradition of giving back," said Melinda Gates, co-chair of the couple's foundation.

"Bill and Warren and I are excited to welcome the new, very international group of philanthropists joining the Giving Pledge, and we look forward to learning from their diverse experiences."

The Giving Pledge now has 168 signatories from 21 countries around the world.

Here’s what you should know about some of the most recent additions:

Mohammed Dewji — Tanzania - $1.39bn

Mr Dewji is reported to be Tanzania’s only billionaire. He inherited his father’s conglomerate METL, which has interests in everything from textiles to drinks manufacturing. He has taken it from $26m revenues in 1999 to over $1bn last year, according to African Business magazine. That rapid rise has led him to become Africa’s youngest billionaire.

Dong Fangjun — People’s Republic of China

The Chinese billionaire is chairman of investment company Dongfang Huiquan Financial Holdings. He says he grew up on a farm in rural Shandong Province where he “deeply understood the taste of poverty”.

Anne Grete Eidsvig and Kjell Inge Røkke — Norway - $2.7bn

The couple say their philanthropy focuses on three areas: local community, higher education and the environment, with a special focus on the oceans. The last of the three is especially appropriate as their joint $2.7bn fortune has been made in shipping and offshore oil drilling. Kjell Inge Røkke began building the couple’s empire from a single 69-foot trawler which he bought in 1982.

Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou — Monaco, Cyprus - $1.37bn

The flamboyant founder of easyJet is probably the best known in the list. He founded the budget airline in 1995, aged just 28, with help from his shipping magnate father. Mr Haji-Ioannou said he signed up to the Giving Pledge after being “inspired” by a phone call from Bill Gates, the world’s richest person.

Dagmar Dolby — United States - $3.6bn

The widow of the surround sound pioneer, Ray Dolby, German-born Ms Dolby said she and her husband agreed to give away the majority of their $3.6bn in wealth before he died in 2013.

Nick and Leslie Hanauer — United States

Venture capitalist Nick Hanauer made a good investment when he backed a promising startup called which is now one of the most valuable companies in the world. He also founded aQuantive, a digital advertising agency which he sold to Microsoft for $6.3bn. He and his wife Leslie set up a family foundation, which focuses on public education and the environment.

Len Ainsworth — Australia - net worth $1.21bn

The Australian entrepreneur founded Aristocrat Leisure in 1953 but stepped aside in 1994 after a cancer scare, according to Forbes. The company is the world’s second-biggest gaming-machine company.


The full list:

Leonard H Ainsworth — Australia

Mohammed Dewji — Tanzania

Dagmar Dolby — United States

Dong Fangjun — People’s Republic of China

Anne Grete Eidsvig and Kjell Inge Røkke — Norway

Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou — Monaco, Cyprus

Nick and Leslie Hanauer — United States

Iza and Samo Login — Slovenia

Dean and Marianne Metropoulos — United States

Terry and Susan Ragon — United States

Nat Simons and Laura Baxter-Simons — United States

Robert Frederick Smith — United States

Harry H Stine — United States

You Zhonghui — People’s Republic of China

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