Billionaire MacKenzie Scott donates $15 million to help provide eyeglasses to farmers in developing countries | Philanthropy
MacKenzie Scott, the billionaire philanthropist and former wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, has donated $15m (£13.5m) to a social enterprise that helps provide glasses to farmers in developing countries .
Scott’s donation to VisionSpring is considered the largest private donation to help solve the problem of uncorrected blurred vision that leaves hundreds of millions of people in poverty.
The donation – announced on World Sight Day – launches an initiative to provide glasses to hundreds of thousands of low-income tea, coffee, cocoa and artisan workers in India, Bangladesh, Ghana , Kenya and Uganda.
VisionSpring says its $70 million Livelihoods in Focus campaign could create more than $1 billion in new income among tea, coffee, cocoa and artisan workers by 2030 by enabling them to see more clearly and earn more.
“Ms. Scott’s gift is incredible recognition of the power of a simple pair of glasses to unlock income, learning, security and well-being for those vulnerable to poverty,” said VisionSpring’s chief executive. . said Ella Gudwin.
“And, with this powerful endorsement of our work, we embark on a multi-year journey to put livelihoods at the centre, closing the huge vision care gap among agricultural and artisanal workers in Asia. We need many more philanthropic investors, as well as governments, corporations and NGOs, to bring the wonder of a clear vision to all.
The nonprofit said it found that 65-85% of workers who acquired glasses through its vision access programs had never had an eye test before and wore glasses. for the first time.
“For workers, the benefits of this 700-year-old technology are immediate,” VisionSpring said. “They gain in productivity, income and well-being as soon as the glasses move from one case to another. Research also shows that glasses improve quality of life, reduce depression and anxiety, and increase participation in religious and family life.
Scott raised $38billion (£27.5billion) in his divorce from Bezos in 2019 – the biggest divorce settlement in the world – and quickly started giving it away.
Shortly after the divorce, she said she had “a disproportionate amount of money to share” and promised to work hard to give it away “until the safe is empty”. She has already donated more than $12 billion to worthy causes.
Scott made the statement in a letter to the Giving Pledge, the philanthropic initiative created by investor Warren Buffett and key Microsoft founder Bill Gates to encourage the world’s wealthiest people to pledge to give at least half of their wealth to charity.
Scott, who married Jeff Bezos in 1993, a year before starting Amazon from his garage in Seattle, said: “Each of us can draw from our vaults many resources to share with others – time, attention, knowledge , patience, creativity, talent, effort, humor [and] compassion.
“In addition to the assets that life has nurtured in me, I have a disproportionate amount of money to share. My approach to philanthropy will continue to be thoughtful. It will take time, effort and care. I won’t wait. And I will continue until the safe is empty.
Her ex-husband, the richest person in the world with a personal fortune of $177 billion, did not sign the Giving Pledge.
Last year, Scott married Seattle science teacher Dan Jewett.