3 social innovation projects invested by billionaires

Social Innovation is an approach that seeks to offer new solutions to respond to diverse social needs and challenges. The response to many of these societal challenges requires new economic models, in which different actors are called upon to actively collaborate in the creation and implementation of solutions. Thus, impact investing started to come from the margins into the mainstream. Its potential must be tapped, bearing in mind that funding is only a means to an end: to implement effective solutions to solve social problems. In this context of a pandemic, which made people stop to look at themselves, to impact society and the environment positively started to make even more sense.


In this blog post, we present you 3 successful impact investments made by famous billionaires.


Bill and Melinda Gates invest in health and poverty initiatives


Bill and Melinda Gates

Through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, this couple invested around US $ 2 billion in 70 initiatives and companies whose activity is mainly linked to health and poverty. The app and website Haladoc, the German company BioNTech (which is working to develop vaccines and immunotherapy for HIV and tuberculosis), and the Indian firm CropIn, are some examples of initiatives invested by the foundation.


Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan invest in education


Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan

The Facebook co-founder and his wife invested US $110 million in more than a dozen startups through the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI). Last year, CZI invested in Brightwheel - a provider of child care software - and the graduate recruitment platform Handshake. The initiative also supported Andela, a recruitment platform that creates remote engineering teams.


Eric and Wendy Schmidt invest in the environment


Eric and Wendy Schmidt

Through the Schmidt Family Foundation, the former president of Google and his wife, invested about US $50 million in solutions for the sustainable use of energy and natural resources. The foundation participated in financing rounds for startups like Atica and BlocPower.


Know who promotes social innovation in Portugal


Portugal Social Innovation is a public initiative to promote and support social innovation in Portugal that mobilizes around 150 million euros from the European Social Fund, under the Portugal 2020 Partnership Agreement. This company channels this money to the market through 4 instruments to finance projects that propose alternative and innovative approaches to current social problems. Each of the 4 instruments is oriented towards a specific phase of the life cycle of social innovation projects.

  1. Training for Social Investment

  2. Partnerships for Impact

  3. Social Impact Titles

  4. Social Innovation Fund


According to João Machado, in the 4th instrument, Portugal Social Innovation has a proactive approach, being constantly screening the market, managing their pipeline, and looking for new opportunities. “What we want is to bring private capital to the table, bring social investors, bring impact investors… We want to bring them and work together to contribute to the development of the market.”


Do you want to know more about Portugal Inovação Social? Find out more in the video below or listen to the full interview on our Spotify Podcast.



This episode is part of the Scaleup Portugal video and podcast series, a spin-out from our comprehensive ecosystem reports, which we wrote in collaboration with EIT Digital. A new episode of this 2nd season about ENABLERS is released every Wednesday. Stay tuned for the next episodes!


Also read: How fintech companies are addressing COVID-19 challenges | Fintech House



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