Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is a US-based foundation established 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 a chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. Its approach to grantmaking emphasises collaboration, innovation, risk-taking and results. The foundation has six divisions: global health, global development, gender equality, global growth and opportunities, global policy and advocacy, and US Program. This analysis only concerns activities administered by the global divisions.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation provided USD 4.8 billion for development in 2021 through its grantmaking activities. Compared to 2020, this amount represents a slight decrease of 0.4% in real terms.

In 2021, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation provided USD 553.2 million as its COVID-19 response, representing 12.8% of its development finance. In real terms, this is an increase by 34.4% compared to 2020 when the foundation provided USD 411.7 million. In 2021, a total of USD 535.5 million was provided for COVID-19 control and other health-related activities, accounting for 96.7% of its total COVID-19 response. A sum of USD 200 million was extended to the COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC) facility.

In 2021, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation provided USD 1.5 billion to the multilateral system, representing 30.3% of its development finance.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation channelled most of its multilateral aid through the United Nations system (40.8%), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance (30.3%), Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (17.5%), World Bank Group (6.6%) and regional development banks (2.6%).

The United Nations (UN) system received USD 591.8 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in 2021. The most significant UN recipients were WHO (USD 390.4 million) and UNICEF (USD 142 million).

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

Focusing on bilateral development finance, this section excludes the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s core contributions to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

In 2021, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation channelled its bilateral contributions mostly through universities, research institutes or think tanks (USD 1.3 billion), non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and civil society (USD 1.2 billion) and multilateral organisations (USD 963 million).

In 2021, civil society organisations (CSOs) received USD 1.2 billion (28.2%) of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s bilateral development finance. Almost all this financing was earmarked to specific projects. The foundation channelled almost three-quarters of these contributions through international and donor country-based CSOs.

In 2021, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s development finance was primarily focused on Africa and South Asia. USD 1.4 billion was allocated to Africa and USD 546.6 million to South Asia, accounting respectively for 33% and 12.7% of bilateral development finance. A sum of USD 2.2 billion (51.4%) was unspecified by region in 2021, mainly including multi-regional programmes and research grants.

In 2021, 23.5% of development finance went to the top 10 recipients. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s most significant recipients included India (USD 276.6 million), Nigeria (USD 169.7 million) and Pakistan (USD 134.6 million). Moreover, 68.1% of bilateral finance was not allocated by country.

Least developed countries (LDCs) received USD 538.2 million (12.5%) of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s disbursements in 2021. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation allocated the highest share of its development finance (17.1%) to lower middle-income countries in 2021, noting that USD 2.9 billion (68.1%) was unallocated by income group.

Furthermore, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation allocated USD 6.1 million to small island developing states (SIDS) in 2021, equal to 0.1% of its development finance. The main SIDS recipients include Haiti, Papua New Guinea and Fiji.

Support to fragile contexts reached USD 899.8 million in 2021, representing 20.9% of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s development finance. Of this, USD 87.5 million was provided to extremely fragile contexts.

Learn more about support to fragile contexts on the States of Fragility platform.

In 2021, more than half of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s bilateral commitments were allocated to social infrastructure and services. Investments in this area accounted for 85.9% of bilateral commitments (USD 3.4 billion), with a strong focus on support to health and population (USD 3.2 billion). Contributions to production sectors totalled USD 362.1 million (9.1% of bilateral commitments), focusing on agriculture, forestry and fishing (USD 362.1 million). Moreover, humanitarian assistance amounted to USD 22.8 million (0.6% of bilateral commitments) in 2021.

In 2021, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation committed the largest shares of its bilateral contributions to partnership for the goals (SDG 17), good health and well-being (SDG 3), no poverty (SDG 1) and gender equality (SDG 5). Commitments to gender equality amounted to USD 1.4 million. Contributions to climate action SDG 13) totalled USD 235.3 million.

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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 Sustainable Development Goal focus of private development finance, channels of delivery, unspecified/unallocated allocations, the gender equality policy marker, and the environment markers.

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