Why Bill Gates Says Chickens Are the Answer to Global Poverty – and the Reason He's 'Never Raised' One Himself

Why Bill Gates Says Chickens Are the Answer to Global Poverty – and the Reason He's 'Never Raised' One Himself

Microsoft mogul Bill Gates, number one on Forbes World's Billionaires list, has a dream to end global poverty – and that vision starts with a chicken.

At Wednesday's Coop Dreams event in N.Y.C., Gates, 60, explained how a single chicken has the potential to make a big difference for families living in extreme poverty in sub-Saharan Africa.

"Livestock is really something quite amazing to help lift people out of poverty," Gates told PEOPLE at the event. "If you give a family a starting kit, which is sort of a rooster and several hens, then they're breeding the chickens and using the eggs to make more chickens… They can take those chickens and sell them for $5."

Standing in front of a large chicken coop on the 68th floor of Manhattan's 4 World Trade Center, Gates told reporters he is working with global nonprofit Heifer International to boost the percentage of rural families raising vaccinated chickens from 5 percent to 30 percent.

"There's so much to be done to get a livestock revolution," Gates shared.

And while the philanthropist says chickens are great for families in Africa – the animals have a great return investment, can be used as currency and even empower women to take on larger roles in their communities – he has no experience raising the animals himself.

"In the place I live, if I had a rooster, I'm sure they would complain!" Gates said with a laugh. "I've never raised chickens… I'm in Africa several times a year and I'm learning about the whole livestock story."

He adds, "It's been eye opening for me."

Working with Heifer International CEO Pierre Ferrari, Gates hopes to donate 100,000 chickens to families in Africa. He encourages those interested in the project to read his interactive blog post on gatesnotes.com.

Gates has pledged to donate a flock of chickens for every participant who correctly answers quiz questions (for example, "How much does a chicken typically sell for in West Africa?") and watches an explanatory video on his site.

"The 100,000 chickens will go to 12 different countries," Ferrari told PEOPLE. "We make sure the chicks are healthy and that the people receiving them are trained on how to raise them. That's fundamental, because without training the chicks die."

The donated chickens are primarily raised by women and because of this, Gates says the money made from selling chickens and eggs is reinvested into "nutrition and school fees."

"The chickens are almost entirely a woman's activity, because it involves being around the household all day long," he said.

While it may "sound funny," as Gates writes on his blog, a single chicken can truly make a big economic difference.

"It's a very uplifting thing," he said.