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Making Markets Work for the Poor: How the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Uses Program Related Investments

Making Markets Work for the Poor is a collaboration between the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Paul Brest of Stanford Law School, and ImpactAlpha Inc. The Gates Foundation sponsored the project to share its experiences in program-related investments (PRI's) with others using investment tools as part of their social impact strategies. The ImpactAlpha team interviewed dozens of stakeholders inside and outside of the foundation. 

This supplement presents eleven different cases of impact investing, and mentions the importance of theory of change:

  • “For every investment we do, we’re thinking about the theory of change and the pathway to impact, and then defining metrics around those.“ 
  • “A third lesson is the importance of understanding your markets and understanding the economics of your markets and the theory of change for how you get to a functional market. In a lot of cases, to gain that knowledge we’ll also do grants alongside investments. Often, that work on regulatory issues, market research, R&D, or product development—that is supported with grants—is as important as our PRI investment.“


Authors: Paul Brest, David Bank, Dennis Price

Institutions: BIll and Melinda Gates Foundation, Stanford Law School, ImpactAlpha

Date: 2016

Journal: Stanford Social Innovation Review (SUpplement)