Bill’s big bet

Bill and Melinda Gates have posted 2015 Gates Annual Letter and in it they bet that in the next 15 years the lives of poor people will improve more than at any time in history.

In many parts of the world, including New Zealand (especially New Zealand) it has never been as good for humans on average and as a whole. SOme people still struggle but even they have better healthcare, nutrition and education than ever in history.

Billions of people in many other parts of the world still have major problems with quality of life.

Our Big Bet For The Future

Forty years ago, Bill and his childhood friend Paul Allen bet that software and personal computers would change the way people around the world worked and played. This bet wasn’t exactly a wager. It was an opportunity to make computers personal and empower people through the magic of software. Some people thought they were nuts. But the bet turned out well.

Fifteen years ago, the two of us made a similar bet. We started our foundation in 2000 with the idea that by backing innovative work in health and education, we could help dramatically reduce inequity. The progress we’ve seen so far is very exciting — so exciting that we are doubling down on the bet we made 15 years ago, and picking ambitious goals for what’s possible 15 years from now.

OUR BIG BET

The lives of people in poor countries will improve faster in the next 15 years than at any other time in history. And their lives will improve more than anyone else’s.

Obviously that doesn’t address the ‘poverty’ in New Zealand but addresses much bigger problems in much bigger populations.

WE SEE AN OPPORTUNITY AND WE WANT TO MAKE THE MOST OF IT.

We’re putting our credibility, time, and money behind this bet — and asking others to join us — because we think there has never been a better time to accelerate progress and have a big impact around the world.

Some will say we’re irrational to make this bet too. A skeptic would look at the world’s problems and conclude that things are only getting worse. And we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that a handful of the worst-off countries will continue to struggle.

But we think the next 15 years will see major breakthroughs for most people in poor countries. They will be living longer and in better health. They will have unprecedented opportunities to get an education, eat nutritious food, and benefit from mobile banking. These breakthroughs will be driven by innovation in technology — ranging from new vaccines and hardier crops to much cheaper smartphones and tablets — and by innovations that help deliver those things to more people.

The rich world will keep getting exciting new advances too, but the improvements in the lives of the poor will be far more fundamental — the basics of a healthy, productive life. It’s great that more people in rich countries will be able to watch movies on super hi-resolution screens. It’s even better that more parents in poor countries will know their children aren’t going to die.

If the rich in the world doubled their riches it would affect them far less significantly thatn if the poorest in the world doubled theirs.

A small improvement for the poorest can make a big difference to their lives.

Note that ‘rich’ is a very general term, and ‘poverty’ definitions can be misleading. For example in straight financial terms a solo parent in South Auckland with six kids is richer than someone graduating from university with a medical, dental or law degree and a large student loan.

A rural peasant in China or a subsistence farmer in Africa can have more net assets than a business entepreneur up to their eyeballs in debt but rolling in an opulent lifestyle.

But improvements with basics like safe water, adequate food and reasonable healthcare can make a huge difference to many millions of very poor people.

The letter links to five topics: We’re excited to see how much better the world will be in 15 years. Here are some of the breakthroughs we see coming.

ONE: HEALTH

Childe disease will go down, and more diseases will be wiped out

TWO: FARMING

Africa will be able to feed itself.

THREE: BANKING

Mobile banking will help the poor transform their lives.

FOUR: EDUCATION

Better software will revolutionize learning.

CONCLUSION

A call for global citizens

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