In the recent months, since I joined the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the word “billion” has acquired a life of its own in my mind.
More than one billion people live in extreme poverty.
There are in excess of 2.5 billion people who have no access to a financial account.
More than half of the world population (more than 3.5 billion people) live in Asia (source: Washington Post).
By 2030 there will be billions of people who will have been lifted out of extreme poverty.
One percent of the U.S. budget is about $30 billion a year.
And more and more. The word “billion” keeps coming back in many conversations.
Sometimes it sounds ominous or daunting – what can we, what can I, do about these billions?
Most recently, in Bill and Melinda Gates Annual Letter 2014, the topic is more factual and optimistic – we should not be daunted by the task of helping these billions of poor people, and we should not be afraid of the billion-surpopulation.
You will know me as an optimist, and I whole heartedly subscribe to the positive view. In fact, I got thinking – what will the next billion people bring to this planet?
The next billion people, in my opinion, will be connected people – connected to the internet and connected to each other and a billion devices. A great majority of them will still be poor, but they will be able to make a difference by being connected – they will have a voice they don’t have now. So they will make more of a difference than now. My job is to help them make this difference.
Here is my attempt to describe this new generation.
How do you think about the next billion people?