Making Markets Work for the Poor: How the Gates Foundation Uses Program-Related Investments
A new kind of strategic investor is sniffing around promising startups and innovative entrepreneurs.
These strategists are not corporate suits seeking a competitive edge. They are officers of private foundations looking for scientific breakthroughs on neglected diseases, technologies that can be steered toward disadvantaged populations and financing models that harness the power of markets for the benefit of the poor.
The biggest of these new suitors is the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. At the insistence of Bill himself, the foundation made its first “program-related investment” in 2009. Since then, it has made nearly 50 loans, equity investments, and guarantees to further the foundation’s charitable purpose, totaling more than $1 billion. In the last seven years, the world’s largest foundation has become one of the world’s largest impact investors.
To share what it has learned, the foundation provided unprecedented access to ImpactAlpha and Stanford University’s Paul Brest, a leading thinker and commentator on impact investing. Making Markets Work for the Poor is a deep dive into how the Gates Foundation leverages its immense balance sheet to make program-related investments.