Explore answers to some frequently asked questions about our strategic investments work.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation created the Strategic Investment Fund (SIF) team in 2009 to connect the promise of philanthropy with the power of private enterprise in addressing urgent challenges in global development, global health, and education. We launched with a US$400 million pilot, which has since grown to a US$2.5 billion fund pool.

The foundation uses strategic investments to support its main program strategies. You can read about how these investments are leveraged on our Investment Approach page.

Our team comprises financial experts with years of experience in investment banking, venture capital, and private equity. Our team works directly with the foundation‘s program teams—Global Development, Global Growth and Opportunity, Global Health, Gender Equality, and U.S. Education experts—who help guide our strategy. This partnership allows us to make investments that best support the foundation‘s program strategies.

We are based in the foundation’s headquarters in Seattle, Washington, and also in London. We make a variety of investments throughout the world.

SIF makes a variety of investments across 40+ program strategies that form the six divisions of the foundation:

  • Gender Equality: Our Gender Equality Division works to ensure women and girls in Africa and South Asia can enjoy good health, make their own choices, earn their own money, and be leaders in their societies.
  • Global Development: Our Global Development Division focuses on improving the delivery of high-impact health products and services to the world’s poorest communities and helps countries expand access to health coverage.
  • Global Growth and Opportunity: Our Global Growth and Opportunity Division focuses on creating and scaling market-based innovations to stimulate inclusive and sustainable economic growth.
  • Global Health: Our Global Health Division aims to reduce inequities in health by developing new tools and strategies to reduce the burden of infectious disease and the leading causes of child mortality in developing countries.
  • Global Policy and Advocacy: Our Global Policy and Advocacy Division seeks to build strategic relationships and promote policies that will help advance our work.
  • US Program: Our U.S. Program Division works to ensure everyone in the United States can learn, grow, and get ahead, regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, or family income.

Read more about the Gates Foundation’s work in these areas here, and dive deeper into SIF’s specific domains of investment focus on the Our Focus page.

We work closely with program teams to select opportunities and ensure that every investment aligns with the foundation’s programmatic strategies and charitable goals. In addition to program strategy alignment, we consider the following factors when determining the appropriate investment tool to fund an opportunity:

  • Our impact: We take bold risks that traditional investors can’t or won’t. This includes investments in innovations and organizations that are often overlooked by traditional investors or can solve problems faced by the world’s poorest. We support projects that have high impact potential but may not happen, or may have lower social impact, without our partnership.
  • Leverage external capital: Our goal is to serve as a catalyst for great ideas that can expand opportunity. We generally aim to have investments matched by other investors, either dollar for dollar or at a greater ratio. We co-invest alongside rate-of-return and impact-focused investors. 
  • Scalable and sustainable solutions: We look for products and market solutions that can scale widely and sustainably well into the future.
  • Appropriate level of subsidy: The expected social impact must justify any cost to the foundation.
  • Balance in our investment portfolio: We spread our investments across sectors, geographies, and investment types.
  • Internal capacity: We strive to be a value-adding investor that drives an impactful, strategic partnership with the organizations we invest in. We explore different ways of enabling our portfolio partners through the Gates Foundation’s expertise and capacity.

Our Investment Committee comprising internal and external advisers reviews each investment opportunity. Learn more about our investment approach.

We invest globally, across the US, UK, EU, South Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa. Our investment focus for each region is:

  • US: Edtech & economic opportunity, life sciences
  • UK and EU: Life sciences, agri-biotech
  • South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa: Scaling technology innovations in agriculture, financial services, healthcare delivery, and women’s innovations

We have invested in more than 90 companies and add new investments and exits each year. Our portfolio has a comprehensive, filterable list.

Our primary purpose is to further the foundation’s programmatic goals, not to generate income. That said, we perform a comprehensive due diligence prior to each investment, including financial and business/organizational diligence. Upon exit, investment proceeds are recycled into the foundation, allowing for continued grantmaking and strategic investments, ultimately furthering charitable impact.

The purpose of our investments is to further progress toward the foundation’s programmatic goals, not to generate income. When the foundation’s charitable objectives from an investment have been achieved or the partnership reaches logical fruition, we pursue a full or partial exit depending on the status of ongoing programmatic work with the company. We do so as soon as it is practicable and appropriate, provided the charitable impact generated by the investment will not be jeopardized. This allows us to recycle capital into additional grants or investments that further the foundation’s programmatic objectives.

We are proud our impact has improved the health and lives of people around the world. Learn more by reading our Impact Stories.

We proactively seek new investment opportunities based on partnerships with our program teams or through our venture capital and ecosystem networks—and they are always based on our program strategies. We do not accept unsolicited proposals.

While we do not have a set minimum or maximum investment, we typically make program-related investments of $5 million or more. See our investment criteria above.

Similar to grantmaking, the primary purpose of our strategic investments is to further the foundation's programmatic goals. Our investments accelerate growth and stimulate private-sector innovation and investment, giving our partners additional tools to create change and improve lives. By harnessing the power of private enterprise, we can develop new ways to find solutions for the world's most pressing problems. We set charitable commitments for companies via our investments and actively measure and monitor them to drive impact.

Gates family personal investment decisions are not related to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and our team is not responsible for Gates family personal investments. Additionally, we are not responsible for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Trust, which manages endowment assets, and are not associated with Pivotal Ventures or Breakthrough Energy Ventures.

For information about job openings, visit the foundation's Our Careers page.

In August 2018, the Program-Related Investments (PRI) team changed its name to Strategic Investment Fund (SIF) to better reflect our mission and activities. Our mission and structure remain the same.