George Soros is one of the world’s most influential investors. He is a business magnate, political activist, and philanthropist. In Oct. 2017, Soros revealed that he had transferred around $18 billion to his Open Society Foundations in the past few years. The foundation aims to promote democracy and open society all over the world. Open Society Foundation has a network of organizations spread out over more than hundred countries where they work to develop democratic and liberal values in the populace. Soros’s foundation ranks as the second largest foundation of the world after the Gates Foundation.
Over the last three decades, Soros’s foundations have given away around $14 billion to pro-democracy movements around the globe. His first major philanthropic move was setting up funded scholarships for black South Africans in 1979. Then he went on to establish a foundation in Hungary in 1984 to strengthen the country’s civil society against the Communist regime. After the collapse of Communism, Soros understood that he had to shift the direction of the work of his foundations. Until then, the foundations had been working as a subversive force in society, but now took on a constructive role. The foundations started supporting pro-democratic institutions in countries throughout Eastern and Central Europe. They paid for students travel grants, supported organizations promoting good governance and worked to protect marginalized populations in various countries. In 1991, Soros established the Central European University in the city of Budapest to encourage open academic pursuit. Recently, Soros has been campaigning for liberal immigration policy in Europe to counter the refugee crisis.
Having experienced both persecutions by Nazi’s and oppression in a Communist regime, Soros was always preoccupied with the idea of an open society free from any tyranny. In his article ‘The Capitalist Threat’ published in The Atlantic, Soros writes that as soon as he had made more money than he needed, he decided to set up the Open Society Foundations whose work would be to open up societies which are closed and promote critical thinking. Throughout his career as a hugely successful investor, he funneled enormous amount of his wealth to his foundations to work for the weaker sections of society and fight for human rights. The foundations form a decentralized network of boards across countries with every board having a high level of autonomy. Even though Soros has the final authority regarding grants, he rarely uses it and allows the boards to make their own decisions.
Soros’s powerful influence over the world is undeniable. He adopted an aggressive political approach in his philanthropy that has influenced other billionaire philanthropists like Tom Seyer and Bill Gates as well. In the United States, Soros openly supported and funded the movement for gay marriage and reformation of immigration law and the justice system. Because of his campaigns to promote liberal movements in the US and across the globe, Soros has faced a lot of domestic and international opposition. Still, he has remained undaunted in his fight for liberal values and open societies.
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