If someone had told Bill Gates 20 years ago that in 2016 he’d be standing beside a makeshift chicken coop inside a Manhattan skyscraper talking about how the feathered creature could help beat poverty, he probably would’ve laughed them out of his office.
But guess what. On Wednesday, the Microsoft co-founder found himself standing beside a makeshift chicken coop inside a Manhattan skyscraper talking about how the feathered creature can help beat poverty.
And to show he’s serious, Gates is donating 100,000 of them to poor families around the world.
The bird-based initiative is part of a newly announced partnership between his philanthropic charitable organization and Heifer International, a charity that helps distribute livestock to families living in poverty.
Gates explained more about his poultry plan in a post on his blog, asking readers what they would do to improve their life if they only had $2 income a day.
“That’s a real question for the nearly 1 billion people living in extreme poverty today,” Gates wrote. “There’s no single right answer, of course, and poverty looks different in different places. But through my work with the foundation, I’ve met many people in poor countries who raise chickens, and I have learned a lot about the ins and outs of owning these birds. (As a city boy from Seattle, I had a lot to learn!) It’s pretty clear to me that just about anyone who’s living in extreme poverty is better off if they have chickens.”
Besides being easy and inexpensive to take care of, Gates goes on to explain how the bird is also a good investment, keeps children healthy, and helps to empower women.
The richest man on the planet said the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is now “betting on chickens” to help bring people out of poverty, and is currently working on various projects in sub-Saharan Africa to make it work.
And you can help by hitting Gates’ blog and answering a a question about chickens. Get it right – you can select a different answer till you do – and the former Microsoft CEO says he’ll happily donate a flock of chickens to a family in poverty.
Gates ends his post: “When I was growing up, chickens weren’t something you studied, they were something you made silly jokes about. It has been eye-opening for me to learn what a difference they can make in the fight against poverty. It sounds funny, but I mean it when I say that I am excited about chickens.”
There, he said it. Bill Gates is excited about chickens. And perhaps we should be, too.