Amazon’s Jeff Bezos launches US$2 billion fund to help the homeless

Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos is starting a charity fund aimed at helping the needy

Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos is starting a charity fund aimed at helping the needy

Philanthropy experts called Bezos' approach direct and pragmatic, but said its success would depend largely on how the money was allocated and how willing the billionaire was to make changes along the way.

The first will fund existing nonprofits and issue annual awards to organisations doing "compassionate, needle-moving work" to shelter and support the immediate needs of young families.

Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) Chief Executive Jeff Bezos said on Thursday the company would announce a decision on where it will build a second headquarters before the end of the year, and also said that President Donald Trump is wrong to "attack the media".

The Day 1 Families Fund will start an organisation to operate a new network of full-scholarship preschools for low-income communities.

Bezos owns the Washington Post, which, along with Amazon have been targets of Trump criticisms.

"It is really important that politicians and others, they need to understand the value that big companies bring in and not demonize or vilify business in general", Bezos said on Thursday evening at an Economic Club of Washington dinner.

Bezos and his wife Mac Kenzie Bezos sit on the board of the Bezos Family Foundation run by his parents
Bezos and his wife Mac Kenzie Bezos sit on the board of the Bezos Family Foundation run by his parents

Mr Bezos solicited ideas on Twitter past year for ways to donate some of his wealth.

And taking a look at social media, it's not Bezos alone.

But Bezos said he did not see Amazon - which briefly hit $1 trillion in market value - as a monopoly, arguing that online sales still represent a small fraction of overall retail. Amazon warehouse employees are known to have very bad working conditions, pitiful wages, and have even been forced into homelessness after workplace injuries. "It's unsafe to say they are the enemy of the people". "The secret sauce of Amazon - the number one thing that has made us successful has by far is obsessive, compulsive focus on the customer".

While the online retail giant's presence made Seattle the fastest-growing big city in the U.S., it also has taken a toll on its residents, driving up rent prices, clogging traffic and overwhelming public transportation.

He said "we have made tremendous progress" in the search but offered no clues, despite reports that Amazon board members had visited locations in the Washington suburb of Arlington, Virginia.

The announcement marks a deeper foray into philanthropy for Mr Bezos, whose fortune has soared to more than $160 billion thanks to his stake in Amazon, making him the world's richest person, according to Forbes.

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