Microsoft founder and former CEO Bill Gates has become an e-resident of Estonia after having received the digital ID-card as an early birthday present from the Estonian prime minister, Jüri Ratas.
Gates, an entrepreneur and a philanthropist, received the e-resident’s ID-card during a meeting in Brussels, Belgium, where he and Ratas discussed how Estonia’s experience as a digital nation can benefit more people and countries in the world.
Almost all e-residents apply online themselves, but Gates is one of the few people to have received e-residency as a gift – along with world leaders such as the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, the Japanese prime minister, Shinzō Abe, and, most recently, Pope Francis.
During their meeting, Gates and Ratas also discussed three African projects of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that concern clinical trials of vaccination, enhancing laboratory services and improving the health-care system.
Estonia opened the e-residency programme for everyone in December 2014. E-residents get a state-issued, secure digital identify that allows digital authentication and the digital signing of documents. There are now almost 38,000 e-residents from 157 countries around the world.
E-residency gives access to Estonia’s digital infrastructure and public e-services so that the approved e-residents can establish and manage an EU company and enjoy the same rights in business as Estonians. It does not provide citizenship, physical residency or tax residency.
Gates, alongside with Paul Allen, launched Microsoft in 1975, to see it become the world’s largest PC software company. He served as the CEO of the company until 2014, after which he and his wife, Melinda, have pursued a number of philanthropic endeavours. As of 6 August 2018, Gates had a net worth of USD95.4 billion, making him the second-richest person in the world, behind Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon.
Cover: Bill Gates’s e-residency card (images courtesy of the Estonian government office).