The Islamic Development Bank: Transforming Global Health and Development Through Partnerships

By Gabrielle Fitzgerald Panorama Founder and CEO

I’m a big believer in the power of partnership. By acting together, we can do far more to improve people’s lives than by acting alone. We saw this at the Global Vaccines Summit in Abu Dhabi, where partners from around the world collectively pledged more than $4 billion to end polio forever. It was a historic moment, and a highlight of my time at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

One of those pledges came from the Islamic Development Bank (IDB), which for nearly 40 years has helped its member countries build better lives for their citizens.

Last week, we had the pleasure and privilege of hosting the Bank’s president, Dr. Ahmad Mohamed Ali, at our Seattle headquarters, where he met with Bill and took part in a town hall meeting with staff.

Listening to this charismatic and humble man speak about IDB’s investment priorities, it became clear that he, too, shares a passion for partnership. The concept of partnership, he explained, undergirds Islamic financing principles, which guide all of IDB’s global health and development efforts.

For example, the Bank’s cutting-edge “Triple Win” financing mechanism pools resources from multiple partners to provide sustainable financing to countries in need—making available a level of inexpensive financing that no single group could have provided alone. We saw the mechanism in action last year when our foundation joined IDB to create a US$227 million financing package for Pakistan’s campaign against polio.

IDB also forges partnerships in its 56 member countries to address other global issues, including agriculture and food security, climate change and youth unemployment. The Bank also helped found the Deauville Partnership to foster social and economic growth in Arab transition countries, and has invested billions of dollars in clean energy and agricultural innovation.

I am excited about our partnership with IDB and what it holds for the future. Having recently announced a tripling of its capital base to US$150 billion, the Bank and its visionary leader are poised to do unimaginably great things. Dr. Ali, who has led the bank since it was founded, told me that if we all work together to eliminate such diseases as polio and malaria, anything is possible.

I couldn’t agree more.

Originally published on Impatient Optimists, July 9, 2013