Bill Gates: “My Best Investment”

Industry |

On Wednesday, the well-known and revered Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates told CNBC that investing in global health organizations directed at increasing access to vaccines creates a 20-to-1 return in economic benefit.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has given “a bit more than $10 billion” over the past two decades into these three groups, primarily: the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, and the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.

Gates told CNBC’s Becky Quick on “Squawk Box” from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, “We feel there’s been over a 20-to-1 return,” producing $200 billion over those 20 or so years. “Helping young children live, get the right nutrition, contribute to their countries — that has a payback that goes beyond any typical financial return.”

In his essay in The Wall Street Journal last week under the banner “The Best Investment I’ve Ever Made,” Gates echoed what he told Quick – that, factoring all the reinvested dividends and everything, putting $10 billion into the S&P 500 would have grown only to $17 billion over 18 years.


Gates also shared a word on vaccines directed at parents who refuse to participate out of fear for the side effects: “It is wild that just because you get misinformation, thinking you’re protecting your kid, you’re actually putting your kid at risk, as well as all the other kids around them.”

Gates used measles, a disease that used to be dangerous but is now easy to prevent with a vaccine, as an example to warn parents against a false sense of security.

“As you get a disease down to small numbers, people forget. So, they back off. They think, ‘Gosh, I heard from rumor. Maybe I’ll just avoid doing it,'” he explained. “As you accumulate more and more people saying that for whatever reason, eventually, measles does show up. Kids get sick. And sometimes they die.”