The Gates Foundation, a nonprofit organization founded by U.S. billionaire Bill Gates and his ex-wife Melinda French Gates to tackle poverty, illness and inequity across the world, has donated $5 million to Butterfly Network.
Butterfly Network, founded by U.S. scientist and entrepreneur Jonathan Rothberg, is a digital health startup that aims to democratize medical imaging by making it available to everyone throughout the world, as well as contributing to the goal of global health equity.
The Gates Foundation’s donation to Butterfly is its first since the accession of Zimbabwean billionaire and Econet Group Founder Strive Masiyiwa to its board of directors.
On Jan. 26, the Zimbabwean billionaire was joined on the board by two other new members – Baroness Nemat (Minouche) Shafik and businessman Thomas J. Tierney of Bain & Co – in a governance shift that took effect after Bill Gates Sr.’s death in late 2020.
Butterfly will supply 1,000 healthcare professionals in Sub-Saharan Africa with Butterfly iQ+ probes, the world’s first portable whole-body ultrasound, as part of the Gates Foundation’s initiative to enhance maternal and fetal health in the region.
As part of this project, 500 probes will be supplied to mid-level practitioners in Kenya and 500 to healthcare professionals in South Africa, with both distributions focusing on enhancing maternal and fetal health.
The Rothberg-led organization will document best practices for point-of-care ultrasound use that may be used to maximize the qualitative and quantitative clinical and economic effect of Butterfly iQ+ deployments in additional care contexts.
A portion of the donation will also be utilized to expedite the release of additional maternal and fetal health capabilities inside the Butterfly iQ+ mobile application.
According to data from the U.S. business magazine Forbes, Masiyiwa has just eclipsed South African mining mogul Patrice Motsepe to become the richest Black billionaire in Southern Africa.
The increase in his fortune may be attributed to a rise in the value of his publicly listed firms, as well as a revaluation of his stakes in Econet Global and Liquid Intelligent Technologies.
Since the start of 2022, shares in his publicly-traded Econet Wireless Zimbabwe — Zimbabwe’s largest telecommunications services business — and Cassava Smartech Zimbabwe, now EcoCash Holdings, have risen by more than 58 and 61.5 percent, respectively.