Bill Gates wants to give the poor chickens. What they need is cash.

You’ve said that a family that receives five hens could eventually earn $1,000 annually, assuming a per-bird price of $5. But would that still be true when a third of your neighbors are in the same business? As supply goes up, I’d expect the price and profits to come down. And moving to an economy in which 30 percent of rural Africans sell chickens is a humongous increase in supply.

.. This brings me back to cash. “Give a man a start-up grant,” I say, “and he can buy chickens, or fishing lessons, or open a shop.” Cash is more versatile than livestock or skills. And time and again, the research has shown that the poor make good investment choices when given the opportunity. I propose we give impoverished Africans cash, and to let Heifer offer chickens and services for sale.

.. The poor generally have good investment opportunities but little access to capital. If you give them capital, such as cash or tools — they tend to invest it, work more (not less) and raise their earnings. Especially the young

.. It would be straightforward to run a study with a few thousand people in six countries, and eight or 12 variations, to understand which combination works best, where, and with whom. To me that answer is the best investment we could make to fight world poverty.

.. When it comes to ending poverty, you could tell people that we don’t know the answer yet, but it is answerable. You could say: “The future is randomized trials testing different poverty programs against one another in many countries, focusing on cost-effectiveness.” That sentence is short enough for a tweet.