Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is a US-based foundation established by Bill and Melinda Gates in 2000. Since 2006, the foundation also benefits from Warren Buffett’s support. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the largest private foundation in the world, works with grantees and partner organisations across the globe to address critical health and development priorities – from infectious disease to agricultural development and financial services – to benefit the world’s poorest people.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is guided by the belief that every life has equal value. It works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, the foundation focuses on improving people’s health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. Its approach to grant making emphasises collaboration, innovation, risk-taking and results. The foundation has five divisions including Global Health, Global Development, Global Growth and Opportunities, Global Policy and Advocacy, and US Program. This analysis only concerns activities administered by the global divisions.

The Gates Foundation disbursed USD 4.1 billion for development in 2019. Compared to 2018, this amount represents an increase by 1% in real terms. Grants represented 99.9% of the Gates Foundation’s gross disbursements while the remainder was extended in the form of shares in collective investment vehicles.

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In 2019, the Gates Foundation provided USD 1.1 billion of its gross disbursements to the multilateral system, accounting for 27% of its total development finance. USD 0.6 billion was earmarked for specific countries, regions, themes or purposes and the remaining USD 0.5 billion was extended as core contributions to multilateral organisations, notably Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The World Health Organization was the main multilateral channel of the Gates Foundation’s earmarked funding.

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See the section on Geographic and thematic focus for the geographical and thematic breakdown of bilateral allocations earmarked through the multilateral development system.

In 2019, the Gates Foundation channelled its bilateral development finance mostly through universities, research institutes and think tanks (35%) and non-governmental organisations (30%).

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In 2019, civil society organisations (CSOs) received USD 1.1 billion of gross disbursements. Of this, 3% was allocated to CSOs as core contributions and 97% was channelled through CSOs to implement projects initiated by the provider (earmarked funding). CSOs based in developing countries received 16% of bilateral allocations channelled to/through all CSOs.

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In 2019, the Gates Foundation’s bilateral development finance was primarily focused on Africa and Asia. USD 1.2 billion was allocated to Africa and USD 583 million to Asia, accounting respectively for 33% and 16% of gross bilateral allocations. Fifty per cent of gross bilateral development finance was unspecified by region in 2019.

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Bilateral private development finance by recipient country

In 2019, 26% of gross disbursements went to the Gates Foundation’s top 10 recipients, most notably India, Nigeria and Pakistan. The share of 66% was not allocated by country, mainly relating to expenditure for projects and programmes with a regional scope.

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Least developed countries received USD 453 million (13%) of the Gates Foundation’s gross disbursements in 2019. The Gates Foundation allocated the highest share of its development finance (21%) to middle-income countries in 2019, noting that 66% was unallocated by income group. Moreover, the Gates Foundation allocated 0.2% of its gross development finance to small island developing states in 2019, equalling USD 8 million.

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Note: LDC: least developed country; LIC: low-income country; LMIC: lower middle-income country; UMIC: upper middle-income country; MADCTs: more advanced developing countries and territories.

In 2019, most of bilateral development finance was allocated to social infrastructure and services. Contributions in this area accounted for 85% of bilateral commitments (USD 3.2 billion), showing a strong focus on health and reproductive health. Commitments for production sectors totalled USD 275 million (7%), with a particular focus on agriculture, forestry and fishing.

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In terms of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Gates Foundation focused most of its bilateral development finance on partnerships and health & well-being, with significant contributions to gender equality, zero hunger and reduced inequalities.

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In 2019, the Gates Foundation committed 14% of its bilateral allocable private development finance to gender equality and women’s empowerment.

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In 2019, the Gates Foundation committed 4% of its bilateral allocable development finance (USD 150 million) in support of climate change adaptation.

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The methodological notes provide further details on the definitions and statistical methodologies applied, including core and earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations, the SDG focus of private development finance, channels of delivery, unspecified/unallocated allocations, the gender equality policy marker, and the environment markers.

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