This is Part 7 of a Guide to Social Entrepreneurship Foundations. In these series of articles we will highlight top international Foundations focused in social business and social entrepreneuship.
Guide done by Paula Newton and Maria Fonseca
About the Foundation
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is the biggest private foundation from across the globe. It began operations in 2000. It has a remit to improve healthcare and cut back on extreme poverty on a global scale. In the United States it has also set itself a target of increasing chances for education and improving the ability of people to gain access to information technology. The leadership of the organisation is comprised of Bill Gates, Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett. Overall the organisation states that:
“Rather than look at the challenges that people face by region we identify challenges that can be tackled on a global level. We work with partners that can help to affect change globally and then scale solutions to a local level.”
Management team and founders
The three main trustees of the organisation are:
Bill Gates – Bill Gates is the co-chair of the organisation and a trustee. He is responsible for shaping and approving the strategies of the organisation. He also advocates for issues relating to the organisation and develops its direction.
Melinda Gates – Melinda Gates has similar responsibilities to Bill Gates. She is also responsible for approving the foundation’s strategies and setting the overall direction. However, she also reviews the results of the organisation.
Warren Buffet – Warren Buffet is responsible for shaping vision as well for the organisation. He also takes responsibility for creating strategies that help to address some of the most difficult problems regarding inequalities.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is guided by the idea that every life has equal value, and the organisation helps to ensure that everyone can lead lives that are healthy and productive. This revolves around making sure that those that need resources can gain access to them. In the following video, Bill gates articulates his hopes for what the foundation can do for the world:
The organisation operates on a global scale, though it is headquartered in Seattle, Washington. It has a focus on both global and US issues. The organisation has offices in Washington DC, Delhi, Beijing, London, Addis Ababa, Abuja and Johannesburg.
Areas of Focus
The organisation has several divisions with different aims. The Global Health Division has a focus on advancing science and technology for the purpose of saving lives in the developing world. This includes working to provide vaccines and medications and trying to make these affordable. For this division areas of focus have been HIV, polio and malaria as well as family planning. The Global Development Division works towards finding high impact solutions to lift people out of poverty. This involves coming up with innovative approaches to address problems like a lack of food, water, shelter, sanitation, healthcare and education. The US programme has a remit to make sure that all students graduate from high school in such a position that they are able to get a job. They also work on social inequity and poverty in the Gates’ family home state of Washington. The Global Policy and Advocacy Division is aimed at trying to advocate for more people to support the work that is needed to improve lives.
History – Founders
Husband and wife team Bill and Melinda Gates have had a long standing interest in giving back to the community. They came from families where the values of volunteerism and civic engagement were instilled strongly. They both came from a background where it was understood that if you do well in life you ought to give back, and this is what they have done. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation was formed in 2000 through the merging of the William H Gates Foundation and the Gates Learning Foundation. In 2000 the organisation launched Sound Families – a programme to deal with family homelessness in Washington state. Since then it has launched many initiatives such as an HIV/AIDs programme in India, anti-Malaria work, a project on library access, and steps towards a green revolution in Africa. Warren Buffet came on board with $30 billion in 2006. In 2008 Bill Gates left Microsoft to work full time at the foundation. Today the organisation works with many partners worldwide, in the USA, South America, Europe, Africa and India. It continues with its goal of “finding solutions for people with the most urgent needs, wherever they live.”
Types of Grants/Awards and Funds available
Current grants that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation offers include global health grants and grand challenges grants. Those that want to apply can do so, but the organisation does point out that most of its awards go to organisations that the Foundation itself identifies through its staff. It also currently has an RFP for rotavirus vaccine and it is offering grants for agriculture nutrition impact studies. The Foundation does not fund individuals, health projects in developed countries, political campaigns or lobbying efforts or any projects that have exclusively religious objectives. It does not support organisations that seek to build capital.
Examples of types of organizations funded
Organisations funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are quite varied. For example, it has funded Save the Children to the value of $112 million with a purpose of saving new-born lives. It has also funded the World Food Programme with $66 million to help small farmers increase their income. It has worked with the GAVI Alliance expanding childhood immunisations and to this it gave $1.5 billion. Additionally, it has provided grants for effective teaching to a wide variety of schools across the United States. It has also helped African farmers to improve seeds and soil by spending $264 million, awarded to the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA).
Education / Non Profits /Social Enterprise
With regard to education, the focus is mainly on the USA, helping students to graduate high school, though educational programmes are also pursued elsewhere. Organisations funded are mostly made to tax-exempt organisations in the USA, which are likely to be non-profits, hence their tax status. Where appropriate to its goals it supports social enterprise organisations.
Social media channels
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation can be found on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube:
Intelligenthq Series on Social Entrepreneurship Foundations Part 1- Skoll Foundation
Intelligenthq Series on Social Entrepreneurship Foundations Part 2 – Ashoka Foundation
Intelligenthq Series on Social Entrepreneurship Foundations Part 3 – Schwab Foundation
Intelligenthq Series on Social Entrepreneurship Foundations Part 4 – UnLtd
Intelligenthq Series on Social Entrepreneurship Foundations Part 5 – The Esmée Fairbairn Foundation
Intelligenthq Series on Social Entrepreneurship Foundations Part 6 – Jasmine Social Investments
ntelligenthq Series on Social Entrepreneurship Foundations Part 7 – The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Intelligenthq Series on Social Entrepreneurship Foundations Part 8 – The Ellen MacArthur Foundation
Intelligenthq Series on Social Entrepreneurship Foundations Part 9 – The Clinton Foundation
Intelligenthq Series on Social Entrepreneurship Foundations Part 10 – The Young Foundation