Critical of Gates, The Billionaires who Made our World features interviews with AGRA Watch coordinator and partners

The new documentary series, The Billionaires who Made our World, recently released a new episode focusing on Bill Gates. The episode features interviews with AGRA Watch Researcher Ashley Fent and our partner Leonida Odongo, of Haki Nawiri Afrika! It aired on Channel 4 (UK) and will be airing on BBC Select in May (the series also features critical portrayals of Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, and Elon Musk).

We are so excited to see some of our people featured in this documentary, which marks one of the first times something critical of Bill Gates’ hubris, arrogance, and ruthlessness as a monopoly capitalist has reached mainstream audiences. The film shows how Gates’ aggressive business tactics (like plotting how to cut out Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen while the latter was undergoing radiation therapy for cancer) have morphed into philanthrocapitalist agendas that help corporations capture African food systems.

As Leonida Odongo explains, “The Bill Gates Foundation is making Africans imagine that they are modernizing, but in actuality, they are moving closer to the grave.” She notes that Africa’s 313 million small-scale farmers represent a massive opportunity for foreign agribusiness corporations, which are trying to gain new markets for products and services on the continent — with help from the Gates Foundation and the Gates Foundation-funded AGRA initiative.

As AGRA Watch Researcher Ashley Fent states: “[AGRA] has not even come close to meeting [its] goals [of boosting food production]. But what it has done instead, is it has increased the ability of foreign agribusiness corporations to access African markets. …  There are strong parallels between what the Gates Foundation is doing now, and neocolonialism. Somehow, a white man from Seattle knows more about African agriculture than African farmers.” 

And in a groundbreaking interview, former Microsoft board member Maria Klawe speaks out about Gates’ arrogance, his belief that he is “always the smartest person in the room,” and where his priorities truly lie: “The work that the Gates Foundation has done, supporting poor women in Africa… It’s obvious to me that that’s not a priority for him. But he’s willing to be videotaped saying that it’s a priority for him. I went up to Bill at a board meeting and said ‘I’m interested in diversity in STEM’ and he said straight out, ‘I’m not interested in diversity.’”

Other notable interviewees include Tim Schwab, a journalist with The Nation who has been undertaking a long investigation of Bill Gates and his philanthrocapitalist endeavors; Linsey McGoey, a sociologist who wrote the book No Such Thing as a Free Gift: The Gates Foundation and the Price of Philanthropy; and investigative journalist Wendy Goldman Rohm, who claims that her work on the Federal Trade Commission case against Gates and Microsoft in the 1990s resulted in threats and blacklisting.

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