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Bill Gates at the Coop Dreams exhibit in 4 World Trade Center in New York City. (GatesNotes.com)

Bill Gates, chicken farmer? The Microsoft co-founder and billionaire philanthropist says in a blog post that investing in poultry would his first move if he were living on $2 per day.

Nearly 1 billion people live at or below that extreme poverty line, around the world, and the Gates Foundation believes chickens can help. Bill Gates is so confident in his bet on chickens that he’s pledged to donate a flock on behalf of each person that registers for free with Gates Notes and reads the related materials he posted Tuesday.

“Our goal: to eventually help 30 percent of the rural families in sub-Saharan Africa raise improved breeds of vaccinated chickens, up from just 5 percent now,” writes Gates.

The Gates Foundation has partnered with Heifer International, an aid organization that works to alleviate poverty by providing livestock and training to communities around the world.

Bill Gates and his team celebrated the initiative’s launch by building an educational exhibit and chicken coop, called Coop Dreams, in New York City. Students and guests were invited to explore the exhibition at 4 World Trade Center Wednesday.

Middle school students from the Theater Arts Production Company School explore the Coop Dreams exhibit.
Middle school students from the Theater Arts Production Company School explore the Coop Dreams exhibit. (GatesNotes.com)

Chickens and their eggs provide a nutritious source of food for struggling families. They are in high demand in sub-Saharan Africa, which makes them easy to sell. The average chicken sells for about $5, according to Gates Notes. That means chickens can be quickly sold to pay for day-to-day expenses or emergencies.

Raising chickens is typically considered women’s work. Leaving this lucrative opportunity to women allows them to gain independence, a voice in household decision-making, and control of funds that can be invested back in the family.

“Evidence shows that when women control money, they are more likely than men to spend it on priorities that help fight poverty, like education, health, and nutrition,” writes Melinda Gates in a companion blog post. “I come across a lot of statistics in my line of work, and maybe the one I’ve been most impressed by is this: When a woman controls the family’s income, her children are 20 percent more likely to live past the age of 5.”

To have a flock of chickens donated on your behalf, register with Gates Notes, read Bill Gates’ article, watch a short video, and answer one question here.

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