Gates Launches Another Monster Fund, This One to Help the Poor of the Islamic World

The Gates Foundation has partnered with the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) to launch the Lives and Livelihoods Fund (which is also being referred to in the press as the Life and Living Fund). This $500 million grant facility will address healthcare, disease, smallholder agriculture, and basic rural infrastructure in 56 IDB member states with a focus on those that are the least developed. In other words, the fund is supporting just about every global and health development issue important to the Gates Foundation.

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That Gates-funded portion of the money is currently $100 million and the IDB put in for another $100 million, which will support the program over the next five years. Both Gates and IDB hope that the current $300 million shortfall and an additional $2 billion in funding over the next five years will be made up by other donors. Regardless of whether or not that money comes pouring in, the fund is slated to begin operations early next year.

The Livelihoods Fund doesn't represent the first time the Gates Foundation has hooked up with the IDB. In 2010, the foundation collaborated with the IDB, the Carlos Slim Health Institute and the government of Spain to launch the Salud Mesoamérica 2015 Initiative. Gates contributed $50 million to the initiative, which had the goal of reducing health disparities across poor populations in Central America and Southern Mexico.

In 2012, the Gates Foundation and the IDB got together to establish a five-year framework for agricultural development, malaria prevention and elimination, and polio eradication. That framework focused on the countries of Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Nigeria.

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As for the Livelihood Fund, specific details are still to come. So far, there is talk of developing a microfinance plan beginning with a workshop to cultivate a deeper understanding of Islamic microfinance models. As for the issues of healthcare, disease, smallholder agriculture, and basic rural infrastructure, the specifics of the fund’s approaches in these areas haven’t been released. But we wouldn’t be surprised if those approaches revolved around related Gates Foundation grantmaking.