Why Melinda and Bill Gates are betting big on chickens (hint: ‘the ATM of the poor’)

The Chicken can play diverse role in rural Africa.

ILRI Clippings


Asafo Flag detail, Fante people, Ghana.

From Melinda Gates
‘Chickens in America have it rough . . . the symbol of cowards. . . the butt of corny cross-the-road jokes. . . .

‘But if you ask a woman in a developing country about chickens, she’s likely to show a lot more respect. That’s because a chicken can mean the difference between a family that merely survives and one that thrives.

‘For one thing, chickens are a good source of income. In fact, chickens are known in international development circles as “the ATM of the poor,” because they are easy to sell on short notice to cover day-to-day expenses.

‘Furthermore, eating chickens (and eggs) is good for you. In fact, they contain seven essential micronutrients like calcium and vitamin A.

Woodcut by Walter Williams.

‘But there’s another, less intuitive way that chickens make life much better for poor people.


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