Since 1979, when he began his philanthropy, George Soros has donated large sums to international causes—more than $8 billion by 2015, with additional hundreds of millions being sent overseas with each passing year. His sharpest focal point, and the scene of his most effective work, was Eastern Europe amid the withering of communism (see 1984, 1991, and 1993 entries on this list). Soros’s other overseas giving has been a much more mixed bag.
For instance, in 2006 he donated $50 million as lead funder of the Millennium Villages Project, trumpeted by economist Jeffrey Sachs as the solution to poverty in Africa. In 2011 Soros promised the project another $27 million, and consideration of $20 million more beyond that, to “scale up” the effort. By 2015, extensive reporting, World Bank research, and other evidence made it clear that the five-year plans created by the MVP architects crashed into so many unanticipated cultural and economic obstacles that the Millennium Villages were not noticeably more successful than counterparts where no investment took place. Indeed they are actually less successful by some measures like child mortality.
- Nina Munk, The Idealist (Doubleday, 2013)
- World Bank analysis of child mortality, blogs.worldbank.org/impactevaluations/the-millennium-villages-project-impacts-on-child-mortality