Partnership dilemma: Corporate profit versus public good

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation campus in Seattle, Washington. Photo by: Lester Public Library / CC BY-NC-SA

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s impact on today’s global development scene is hard to deny. But that’s not to say the foundation and its billionaire philanthropist head don’t have their share of critics.

The Gates Foundation, since its establishment as the William H. Gates Foundation in 1994, has been a trailblazer in various development issues such as HIV, the use of insecticide-treated bed nets to combat malaria, immunization and vaccine research.

More recently, the foundation has been focusing on agriculture development, particularly on supporting small-holder farmers with new agricultural techniques and tools. Bill Gates, meanwhile, is carving a role for himself as a point person among world leaders for ideas on innovative ways to finance development.

A U.S.-based teacher, however, seems unimpressed and has raised issue with the Gates Foundation’s partnership with some leading private corporations in an entry on the Living Dialogue blog of Education Week. Chemtchr claims that “maximum corporate profit and public good often clash” when the Gates Foundation implements its projects.

This is not the first time the foundation has been on the end of such criticism. Some groups and experts have in the past voiced concern over the Gates Foundation’s work in vaccine research and its support of media outfits in a bid to promote global health reporting.

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About the author

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    Ivy Mungcal

    As senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributes to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.