In 2012, 12.7 percent of the world’s population lived at or below $1.90 a day based on recent estimates, according to World Bank.
How would you spend your money if you had only $2 a day to spare?
Former Microsoft CEO and billionaire Bill Gates would … raise chickens.
“There’s no single right answer, of course, and poverty looks different in different places,” wrote Gates in his blog post. “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.”
Gates cites four main reasons for breeding chickens.
Firstly, they are inexpensive and easy to take care of. Chickens are not picky eaters (will eat whatever they find on the ground), and it’s cheap to keep them healthy. Secondly they are a good investment. As the chickens breed and multiply, they can be sold for a nice profit—a hen can sell for $5 in Africa. Third, Gates said they help fight malnutrition, especially in children. And fourth, chickens can empower women.
“Because chickens are small and typically stay close to home, many cultures regard them as a woman’s animal, in contrast to larger livestock like goats or cows. Women who sell chickens are likely to reinvest the profits in their families,” writes Gates.
“It’s pretty clear to me that just about anyone who’s living in extreme poverty is better off if they have chickens,” he said.
Gates’ exposition on chicken raising is not just empty talk—his comments are made in a blog post that also serves as the Gates’ Coop Dreams campaign. Visit the blog page, sign up, read the blog post, watch a video, and take a short quiz on chickens, and Gates will donate a flock to a family in sub-Saharan Africa.
Gates’s goal through the project is to send 100,000 birds to Africa and to increase the number of families breeding chickens in Saharan Africa from 5 percent to 30 percent.
“These chickens are multiplying on an ongoing basis, so there is no investment that has a return percentage anything like being able to breed chickens,” Gates told reporters at a recent event on the program. “It’s like the classic thing of teaching somebody how to fish. If you don’t live near water, then it’s pretty hard to fish. But the parable could have been stated in terms of giving somebody a chicken and showing them how to raise chickens.”