Explore answers to some of the most frequently asked questions we get about our strategic investments work.
In August 2018, the PRI team changed its name to the Strategic Investment Fund. This change occurred to better reflect the mission and activities of our team and the foundation. Our mission and team members have remained the same.
In 2009, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation created the Strategic Investment Fund (SIF) team to connect the promise of philanthropy with the power of private enterprise to address urgent challenges in global development, global health, and education. We launched with a $400 million pilot, which has since grown to a $2.5 billion effort.
Strategic investments are investments made by foundations to advance their charitable missions. The investments may take a variety of forms, including loans, credit enhancements, and direct equity investments. The foundation's SIF team also employs other investment tools to support the foundation's charitable mission, such as volume guarantees and buydowns. The foundation has used strategic investments to support each of the foundation's three main program strategies. You can read about how we've leveraged these investments to advance our mission by visiting our Our Investments page.
Our team is comprised of financial experts with years of experience in investment banking, venture capital, and private equity. Our team works directly with the foundation's program teams, experts in global development, global health, and U.S. education, who guide our strategy. This partnership allows us to make investments that best support the foundation's program strategies.
Our team is based in the foundation headquarters in Seattle, Washington and in our London office. We have made a variety of investments throughout the world.
We make strategic investments that align with our three main program strategies across the foundation.
- Global Development: We make investments to identify and fund high-impact solutions to help hundreds of millions of people lift themselves out of poverty and build better lives.
- Global Health: We work with partners to invest in tools—such as vaccines, drugs, and diagnostics—as well as discover pathbreaking new solutions that are affordable and accessible to those living in developing countries.
- Global Growth & Opportunity: We work to scale market-based innovations to break down barriers to economic opportunity, help people lift themselves out of poverty, and deliver sustainable and inclusive growth through investments in agriculture, water and sanitation, and financial services for the poor.
- U.S. Education: Our investments in the United States are made with the primary focus of ensuring all students graduate from high school, are prepared for college and have an opportunity to earn a postsecondary credential with labor-market value.
We work closely with program teams to select opportunities, ensuring every investment aligns with the foundation's programmatic strategies and charitable goals. In addition to program strategy alignment, we consider several additional factors when determining the appropriate investment tool to fund an opportunity.
- Our impact: We invest in organizations or projects that benefit the world's poorest and are often overlooked by traditional investors. That's why we support projects that would not happen or would have lower social impact without our involvement.
- Leverage of external capital: Our goal is to serve as a catalyst for great ideas that can expand opportunity. At a minimum, we aim to have investments matched by other investors ( a 1:1 leverage). Ideally, our investments would mobilize other capital at an even greater ratio.
- Scalable and sustainable solutions: We look for products and market solutions that can scale widely and sustainably ensure availability well into the future.
- Appropriate level of subsidy: Any cost to the foundation of making the investment must be justified by the expected social impact.
- Balance in our investment portfolio: We spread our investments across sectors, geographies and investment types.
- Internal capacity: We want to ensure we are good partners to organizations we invest in so we consider whether we have the ability and capacity to be a value-added investor going forward.
We have invested in more than 70 companies with more new investments and exits each year. Please see our investment portfolio for more details.
The SIF team uses a $2.5 billion investment pool from which we allocate funding to companies and organizations.
The purpose of our Strategic Investment Fund is to further the foundation's programmatic goals, not to generate income. Returns on investments are directed back to the foundation, allowing for continued grant making and strategic investments, ultimately furthering charitable impact.
The purpose of SIF’s investments is to further progress towards the foundation's programmatic goals, not to generate income. When the foundation’s charitable objectives from an investment have been achieved or there is a liquid market for our shares, we pursue a full or partial exit depending on whether we have ongoing programmatic work with the company. We do so as soon as practicable and appropriate, provided that doing so would not jeopardize the charitable impact generated by the investment. This allows us to recycle our capital into additional grants or investments that further the foundation’s programmatic objectives.
We are proud to have made an impact in improving the health and wellbeing of underserved people around the world. You can learn more about our investments by visiting our Our Investments page.
Our team proactively seeks new investment opportunities based on our strategies and partnerships. As a result, we do not accept unsolicited proposals.
While we do not have a set minimum or maximum investment size, we typically make program-related investments of $5 million or higher. See our investment criteria above.
Similar to grantmaking, the primary purpose of our strategic investments is to further the foundation's programmatic goals, not to generate income. Our investments accelerate growth and stimulate private-sector innovation and investment, giving our partners additional tools to effect change and improve lives. By harnessing the power of private enterprise, we can develop new ways to find solutions to the world's most pressing problems.
The Gates family's personal investment decisions are not related to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and our team is not responsible for the Gates family's personal investments. Additionally, we are not responsible for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Trust, which manages the endowment assets.