In 2012, Legatum established the END Fund as an independent vehicle to bring together private donors to accomplish one big goal: to see an end to Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) in our lifetime.
Unbeknownst to most, these debilitating diseases affect one billion of the world’s most vulnerable and marginalised people, through chronic disability and morbidity. However, these diseases are both preventable and treatable. With Legatum’s vision to see a more prosperous world for all, and their unwavering belief that every life is of infinite value, they saw it as their role to step up and help solve this global issue. This was to be a story of a mission, and the people, foundations, companies and governments who came together to put an end to this global challenge.
The journey began in 2006, when one of Legatum’s partners, Alan McCormick, read a newspaper article which explained that by combining modest funding with a little imagination, you could effectively treat this basket of malevolent diseases that had otherwise been neglected by donors. With a broader vision always in mind, Legatum decided to set themselves a larger, more audacious goal - to not only treat these diseases, but to control and eliminate them all together, and in turn, effectively change the lives of more than a billion people.
After considerable research, they devised a programme which would be tested in two of Africa’s most challenging countries, Burundi and Rwanda, both of which suffered extensively from NTDs. As a result of their work, 9.7 million people were treated in just four years. It became apparent that controlling and eliminating these diseases once and for all was, in fact, possible and Legatum had the evidence. But they knew they couldn’t do it alone. From years of experience of investing in those at the bottom of the prosperity ladder, they knew that collaboration was key to sustaining impact.
It was for this reason that they established an organisation independent of the Legatum name, sought and empowered a CEO to lead the new initiative, and invited other donors to join them in their endeavour. By relieving themselves of ownership, Legatum instead became a passionate adviser, donor and active partner.
The organisation was to be called the END Fund and would be positioned as a philanthropic investment vehicle that encouraged other philanthropists and social investors to come together and invest in NTD control. This movement would in turn help foster more prosperous societies.
So far, the Fund has seen outstanding results. By the end of 2016, The END Fund, described as “the Médecins Sans Frontières of NTDs,” had already raised over $75 million and delivered over 330 million treatments to over 140 million people through Mass Drug Administrations.
The next step on the journey, and Legatum’s near-term vision, is to see the END Fund work together with its partners to free a billion people of these diseases in the next ten years. Legatum believes that nothing is impossible.