Our Hero Melinda Gates: No Little Woman

Melinda Gates

Melinda Gates

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is the largest transparently operated private foundation in the world. Its global aims are to enhance healthcare and reduce extreme poverty. Melinda Gates is one of the three trustees that control the Foundation. The other trustees are Bill Gates and Warren Buffett. Currently the Foundation has an endowment of some $36.2 billion.

CFI.co has taken the somewhat controversial decision to single out Melinda as the philanthropic Hero rather than naming the Foundation or husband Bill. We do so in the confident belief that Melinda has been a full partner in controlling the foundation from its very earliest days. She also hastened the birth of the Foundation thus winning time in the battle against poverty and the struggle for improved healthcare. Melinda’s attitudes and focus have resulted in changes of direction for the Foundation which are significant.

“You have to let capitalism work the way it works. I don’t think you want to make a fundamental change to capitalism. It would be different if we were taking all the wealth we had and, as Warren says, building pyramids to ourselves. We are not.”

(Melinda Gates responding to the suggestion that because of growing income inequality in the US, the Gates family and their ‘Billionaire Club’ friends are giving with one hand and taking with the other.)

We credit Melinda with pushing Bill Gates to change the world through giving when he was personally committed to bringing change from a desk at Microsoft. It took a while for Bill to make the move but it would have taken much longer without Melinda’s interventions. Lives have been saved and lifestyles improved.

In 2010, Melinda influenced a Foundation shift in focus – from vaccines to mother and child – which recognised that technologies must engage with the complex needs of the beneficiary if they are fully to take hold.

The Foundation finances half of the world’s HIV treatment, has promised $10 billion for a ten year programme to provided vaccines for the world’s poorest, is supporting a green revolution in Africa and assisting mothers during childbirth in the most needy countries.


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