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Former US president Bill Clinton is fueling a new charity drive for both the corporate world and the community at large.

World wide poverty, climate change and health care – all issues of his own Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) – were on the agenda as Clinton spoke in Manhattan last week. CGI, a project of the Clinton Foundation since 2005, aims to link global leaders with real solutions to world problems.

Already this year CGI has several projects under way. Visa Inc has committed to small business development and literacy for 10 million people over five years; the Energy and Resources Institute has committed to bringing solar light to millions of rural Indians who normally rely on kerosene lanterns after dusk; Fundación Paraguaya is to provide education for sustainable agriculture in developing countries over the next 10 years; Standard Chartered Bank maintained its commitment to microfinance African and Asian institutions to benefit millions of farmers and negotiated a hydro-power project in Uganda to reduce emissions and decrease power costs; and Action by Lizzy Dupont has produced practical, instructional health videos in sign language for the deaf in Mali, Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Morocco.

Clinton said, “Health care problems are profound, many people go to bed hungry every night, one in four deaths every year are claimed by AIDS, TB, malaria and infections related to contaminated water.”

Besides endorsing the current US policy of both distributing food to the needy as well as cash to famine-area farmers, Clinton also made mention to his New York audience of issues specifically affecting Americans at home.

“In this decade we’ve had the biggest increase in income inequality in America in 80 years… Income is 1,000 dollars lower today than the day I left office, while health care costs have doubled. At any given time in the year about 100 million will be without health care and the cost of a college education is up 75 percent. The average debt of a college graduate is 50 percent higher than it was at the beginning of this decade. You see that there is a fair amount of inequality problems in America and climate change affects us all.”

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