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Gates Foundation Invests in for-Profit Ventures

Posted: 10/16/2017 8:58:41 AM | with 0 comments

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The Gates Foundation, a “nonprofit” charity, funded 1,561 grants worth $4.3 billion dollars in 2016. They also invested in businesses whose primary goal is profit. In 2010 they purchased 500,000 shares of agribusiness and chemicals giant Monsanto for $23 million. In 2013 they bought $5 million worth of stock in Anacor Pharmaceuticals in Palo Alato, CA and paid them another $17 million to perform research on drugs to treat worm diseases and tuberculosis. Last year, Pfizer acquired Anacor for $5.2 billion, netting the Gates Foundation a windfall of $86.7 million.

More recently, the Gates Foundation invested $52 million in biotechnology company Curevac of Tubingen, Germany in 2015. Curevac is a pioneer in the development of mRNA (messenger Ribonucleic Acid) vaccine technology, which is viewed as a “game changer” in the manufacture of vaccines. When the Gates Foundation agreed to invest in Curevac, co-chair Bill Gates said, “If we can teach the body to create its own natural defenses, we can revolutionize the way we treat and prevent diseases. Technologies like mRNA give us confidence to place big bets for the future.”

There is certainly a humanitarian spirit to this statement by the founder of one of the largest and most politically powerful philanthropic foundations funding the development of vaccines and promoting their global purchase and use. However, clearly, there is also an entrepreneurial one, and that’s the troubling part. 

The social advocacy group Global Justice Now issued a report in 2016 critical of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for pursuing a strategy of funding projects of companies in which it holds a financial interest. According to the report, “This is a corporate merry-go-round in where the [Gates Foundation] consistently acts in the interests of corporations,” and is more of a money-making venture than a typical charitable organization. They criticize the Gates Foundation for pursuing a strategy of funding projects of companies in which it holds a financial interest, which means that it has an “interest in the ongoing profitability” of those companies. 

Is the primary motivation behind the Gates Foundation to rake in big profits or is it, as it widely advertises, to improve the quality of life?

Posted: 10/16/2017 8:58:41 AM | with 0 comments


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