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Gates Foundation, Open Society Foundations, and The Rockefeller Foundation Announce First Recipients of Multilateral Development Banks Challenge Fund

ODI and Publish What You Fund selected to help accelerate lending in low- and middle-income countries in line with the G20 Capital Adequacy Review Commission recommendations

WASHINGTON, DC | April 12, 2023 ― With the 2023 Spring Meetings of the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) underway, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Open Society Foundations, and The Rockefeller Foundation announced that ODI and Publish What You Fund are the first recipients of funding from the USD 5.25 million Multilateral Development Banks Challenge Fund (“the Fund”), which is administered by New Venture Fund. With additional grantees expected to be announced over the coming weeks, these initial two projects will rapidly begin to develop research to improve understanding of multilateral development banks’ (MDBs) callable capital and a system to track and boost MDB mobilization. The goal of the Fund is to help accelerate financing for the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Paris Climate Agreement by driving increased efficiency and innovation in the development finance system.

“The time is now for much more ambitious and creative financing from the MDB system to support global economic resilience in the face of compounding health, food, fuel, and climate crises,” said Mike Muldoon, Chief of Staff at The Rockefeller Foundation and former member of the independent panel commission by the G20 to conduct the Review of MDBs’ Capital Adequacy Frameworks. “The MDB Challenge Fund is a tactical vehicle aimed at pouring fuel on the fire of development finance reform. With policy makers increasingly recognizing the importance of getting the most out of the existing MDB system, the Challenge Fund can help accelerate proposed reforms that may require additional data, structuring or analytical work.”

MDBs have the potential to unlock tens of billions of dollars in new development finance with little to no cost to shareholders and while safeguarding their financial integrity. By aligning assistance around the recommendations in the G20 Independent Review of MDBs’ Capital Adequacy Framework (CAF) report, the three partners announced the creation of the Fund last October to help accelerate financing for the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Paris Climate Agreement.

“We’ve seen clear indications of public support for mobilizing the required solidarity funds to meet our shared development and climate goals. The G20 Capital Adequacy Framework report provides a blueprint to unlocking those resources,” said Laura Carvalho, Global Director of Equity at Open Society Foundations. “This MDB Challenge Fund will help turn that blueprint into concrete measures to fund the necessary response to the converging and multiplying crises the world must confront including those around food, energy and debt.”

The Fund received more than 60 applications from MDBs, think tanks, NGOs, and academia and will provide funding for projects that can provide concrete and immediate impact. Three areas of focus will be: 1) developing a better understanding of MDBs’ specific features (such as callable capital) to support better informed discussions about MDB’s risk management and shareholders’ risk appetite; 2) promoting financial innovation and the development of new instruments, with an emphasis on risk transfers and securitization as a means to catalyze private investment; and 3) improving transparency and access to information.

“Multilateral Development Banks play a key and central role in the global development finance system. Demands for their finance – to address critical priorities like reducing child mortality, building climate resilient agriculture, and advancing gender equality — greatly exceed their current lending capacities,” said Kalpana Kochhar, director of development policy and finance at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “We are confident that the MDB Challenge Fund will surface new ideas and thinking on how MDBs can more efficiently use their resources without compromising their financial integrity.”

MDB Challenge Fund’s First Projects

ODI aims to increase understanding of what callable capital is and how it can be better integrated into MDB’s capital adequacy frameworks. In doing so, the project will generate evidence and analysis to provide guidance for how Recommendation 2 of the Independent Panel report might be implemented; reduce uncertainty on the circumstances and likelihood of a capital call; and contextualize how callable capital fits into the broader framework of capacities, policies, and processes at MDBs.

“Callable capital is central to the unique financial model of MDBs, but no one is sure what it is worth. In light of the huge development needs around the world and the scarcity of MDB capital, that is no longer acceptable,” said Chris Humphrey, Senior research associate at ODI and senior scientist at ETH Center for Development and Cooperation. “Our project is designed to generate evidence that can help government shareholders, MDB management and credit rating agencies better understand the financial strength and lending capacity of MDBs and take decisions accordingly. Making the best use of callable capital is a key part of modernizing the financial operations of MDBs to face the challenges of the coming decades.”

Publish What you Fund aims to create an improved mobilization reporting approach for leading development finance institutions, which will increase understanding around what works to mobilize private investment by proposing improvements to existing mobilization reporting practices. Through a collaborative effort with leading DFIs already working on these issues, it will seek to demonstrate the possible solutions with regards to investment level reporting of mobilization data.

“The funding from the MDB Challenge Fund enables us to bring together experts and leading DFIs to explore mobilization methods and how they can be measured,” said Gary Forster, CEO of Publish What You Fund. “Improving the measurement of mobilization is vital if we want to learn about what works and how when crowding private capital into development finance deals.”

About the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, it focuses on improving people’s health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, it seeks to ensure that all people—especially those with the fewest resources—have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life. Based in Seattle, Washington, the foundation is led by CEO Mark Suzman, under the direction of co-chairs Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates and the board of trustees.

About Open Society Foundations

The Open Society Foundations, founded by George Soros, are the world’s largest private funder of independent groups working for justice, democratic governance, and human rights. Built on a belief that the solutions to the national, regional, and global challenges we face demand the free exchange of ideas and thought, and that everyone should have a voice in shaping the policies that affect them, we work to build vibrant and inclusive societies, grounded in respect for human rights and the rule of law, whose governments are accountable and open to the participation of all people. For more information, visit

About The Rockefeller Foundation

The Rockefeller Foundation is a pioneering philanthropy built on collaborative partnerships at the frontiers of science, technology, and innovation that enable individuals, families, and communities to flourish. We work to promote the well-being of humanity and make opportunity universal and sustainable. Our focus is on scaling renewable energy for all, stimulating economic mobility, and ensuring equitable access to health care and nutritious food. For more information, sign up for our newsletter at and follow us on Twitter @RockefellerFdn.

Media Contacts:

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Jonathan Birchall
Open Society Foundations
+1 917-325-2565

Ashley Chang
The Rockefeller Foundation

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