Bill Gates has done a lot of good for the world since stepping down as CEO of Microsoft. The Gates Foundation, a charitable organization he founded with his wife Melinda, brings portions of their massive fortune to worthwhile causes, like fighting AIDS and malaria, and creating access to clean drinking water and financial services. But one recent initiative hasn’t gone down so well.
On June 7, Gates announced that he would donate 100,000 chickens to impoverished nations worldwide, a gesture that was quickly greeted with derision by at least one country. According to The Financial Times(paywall), the government of Bolivia is calling Gates’s donation “offensive”:
On June 15, César Cocarico, the country’s minister of land and rural development, told journalists:
[Gates] does not know Bolivia’s reality to think we are living 500 years ago, in the middle of the jungle not knowing how to produce. Respectfully, he should stop talking about Bolivia, and once he knows more, apologize to us.
Gates introduced his chicken-distribution idea in a blog post, explaining that chickens are a renewable source of protein useful to people in extreme poverty. His post focused on sub-Saharan Africa, and did not specifically mention Bolivia as a recipient nation, so it’s unclear how Bolivia found itself ear-marked for free poultry. Quartz has reached out to Gates’s team and will update this post with any relevant information.
As the FT points out, Bolivia’s economy has been steadily growing for the last decade, with per-capita gross domestic product skyrocketing from roughly $1,200 to $3,100 in that time period. It produces 197 million chickens a year, according to The Guardian.
“He should inform himself that us Bolivians have a lot of production and do not need any gifted chicks in order to live, we have dignity,” Cocarico said.