Fifteen years ago, Bill and Melinda Gates made some bets about where the world would be in 2015. They predicted they could dramatically reduce inequality "by backing innovative work in health and education." Well, it’s 2015 and the Microsoft cofounder (and super philanthropist) along with his wife have published their annual letter in which they spell out where they think (and hope) the world will be another fifteen years from now. The letter says: "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."
This idea of a "bet" is inspired by Gates' long-time friendship with fellow Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. Forty years ago, the two of them bet that the PC would transform the way people worked and played around the world. The letter says: "This bet wasn't exactly a wager; it was an opportunity to make computers personal and empower people through the magic of software.” People thought they were crazy then, but look where we are now.
This year, the power couple is making another big bet: that "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."
Here are a couple of other predictions from the letter:
Health: Child Deaths Will Go Down, and More Diseases Will Be Wiped Out
In 1990, it was one in 10, and today it's one in 20. By 2030, they want it to be just one in 40. Another goal is reducing the number of women who die in childbirth by two-thirds.
They also hope to eliminate polio and three other diseases. They hope to "find the secret to the destruction of Malaria" and to force HIV “to a tipping point.”
Farming: Africa Will Be Able To Feed Itself.
Africa imports $50 billion of food on an annual basis. They believe that in the next 15 years, innovation in farming could increase the yield of African farmers by 50%. By improving yields, introducing farmer education and introducing innovations in farming, they hope to achieve food security for the continent in 15 years.
Banking: Mobile Banking Will Help The Poor Transform Their Lives.
Millions of Africans don't have access to established banking services. Cell phones are key to changing this. Thanks to services like Vodacom’s M-Pesa, within 15 years, 2 billion people who today lack bank accounts will be storing money and making payments using their mobiles, they predict. "And by then, mobile money providers will be offering the full range of financial services, from interest-bearing savings accounts to credit to insurance."
Education: Better Software Will Revolutionize Learning.
"Education is a great leveler," they say, but numerous barriers are blocking efforts. They believe that e-learning is the way to go, and that in 15 years it will be a norm all around the world. They intend to close the global literacy gap, believing that equal access to education and technology will empower more women and girls to build better lives.
The couple conclude the letter by urging people to sign up for the "Global Citizen" initiative, writing, "the more global citizens there are, and the more active and effective they are, the more progress the world will make."
To read the full letter, go here.