Media & Press

Global Atlanta

Nigerian Foundation's Donations Strengthen Atlanta-Africa Connections ( view article)
June 16, 2015
Phil Bolton

The Nigerian-Biafran civil war that claimed more than a million human lives from 1967-70 prompted a small group of French doctors to form Doctors Without Borders, which has helped victims of wars and natural disasters around the world since then.

During a brief interview with Global Atlanta, Sir Emeka Offor, the Nigerian businessman and philanthropist, harkened back to the war which began when he was merely an 8-year-old boy. Although he didn't mention it, his embrace of many health-related initiatives through his personal foundation mirrors the humanitarian values of Doctors Without Borders spawned by the devastation of the war.

Mr. Offor, reportedly a billionaire in U.S. dollars many times over, said that his business career has been inspired by a desire to regain the economic standing that was destroyed in the war and that his foundation seeks to fight diseases that hinder economic growth. Read more>>

Pioneer Press

Essien, Agbamu: A hopeful dawn for Nigeria ( view article)
May 27, 2015
Mike Essien & Atare Agbamu

"For too long they ruled, not governed, and in doing so had become so focused on their own self-interest and embroiled in corruption that the duty to react to the anguish suffered by their citizens had become alien to them."
--Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari in a recent New York Times op-ed

On May 29, Nigeria's Democracy Day, President Muhammadu Buhari will be inaugurated as Nigeria's President -- a remarkable and hopeful dawn for the long-suffering country.

The peaceful transition from the previous president takes full course and strengthens the democracy and the country. The expectations are high and the citizens are likely to cooperate with this administration if, as we expect, it lives up to most of the promises during the campaign. But there are big challenges ahead.  Read more>>

Country Messenger

Another Warth Walk ( view article)
May 19, 2015
Kyle Weaver

Most 80-year-olds don’t put “walk across Zanzibar” on their birthday to-do lists.

But then, Tom Warth isn’t your typical soon-to-be-80-year-old.

“I just like to keep busy, you know,” Warth said.

Warth’s birthday isn’t until February, but plans are already underway for the Books For Africa founder to make a two-day, 20-mile trek across the African island, ending in the city of Stone Town. Read more>>

Star Tribune

U.S. is discovering that Africa is open for business ( view article)
May 3, 2015
Oliver Wonekha & Patrick Plonski

A common theme expressed by many Africans who look around and see evidence everywhere of Chinese, Indian and European investment is “Where are the Americans?”

We would answer that the Americans are coming and once they overcome their misperceptions and realize the tremendous opportunities in Africa, they will come in even greater numbers.

U.S. trade to and from Africa has tripled over the past decade with the U.S. exporting $22.6 billion in goods and services to the region last year. The International Monetary Fund has estimated that economic growth rate in sub-Saharan Africa was 6.1 percent last year.  Read more>>

Mshale

Uganda’s Ambassador to United States to address Minnesota Business forum ( view article)
April 13, 2015
Faiza Abbas Mahamud

Uganda’s Ambassador to the United States, Oliver Wonekha and the United States Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs at a Minnesota Trade Office organized Africa Forum titled Business and Political Trends in Africa on wednesday, May 7 at the Hubert H. Humphrey School at the University of Minnesota. The forum is hosted in partnership with Books for Africa.  Read more>>

Huffington Post

NGO's Key to Advancing U.S. Interests Around the World ( view article)
April 13, 2015
Patrick Plonski

As world leaders strategize about how best to combat international terrorism and groups like ISIS, they should give serious consideration to a long-term plan that supports Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) which promote education, human rights, health care and economic development. Military action alone will not rid the world of terrorism or prevent the conversion of young men and women into terrorists.

International terrorism and violence is not confined to ISIS fighters in Syria and Iraq. There have been major incidents in North Africa (Libya), in the Horn of Africa (Somalia), in East Africa (Kenya), in West Africa (Nigeria), as well as in Europe, Canada and Australia.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon recently told the White House summit on violent extremism that "bullets are not the silver bullets. Missiles may kill terrorists, but good governance kills terrorism." NGOs like Books For Africa and other charities are already working to advance education and human rights across Africa. Shipping more than 32 million books to school children and law students across 49 African countries leads to a more educated and stable society, which in turn leads to the development of democracy and the rule of law. And a more educated society leads to stronger economic development, less poverty, and more opportunity -- all ingredients that counter radical violence. Read more>>

Star Tribune

Editorial ( view article)
April 5, 2015
Mike Essien & Atare Agbamu

The election last month of Nigeria’s opposition leader Muhammadu Buhari was a democratic revolution in modern Nigerian and African politics. It represents a victory for the Nigerian people and a victory for burgeoning democracy in Africa.

Despite what may be said about the process, the citizens voted for a new leader, and indications are that the incumbent, Goodluck Jonathan, has conceded peacefully. For this nascent democracy to effect a change in leadership from an incumbent to another candidate is proof-positive that Nigeria is maturing. This is a first for such change.

Nigerians have grown tired of endemic corruption and the constant threat of Boko Haram militants. This election was a big deal for Nigeria and its long-suffering people. It is our hope that this change augers in good governance for the largest economy in Africa. Read more>>

Star Tribune

Editorial ( view article)
March 30, 2015
Tom Gitaa

According to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), state exports to Africa totaled $251 million in 2014, a 3 percent increase. Not much until one realizes that exports to Egypt alone (yes, it is in Africa) grew by 36 percent in 2014 to $36 million, and a staggering 122 percent increase to Angola, to a record $19 million. Algeria (in the news just last week as terrorists targeted tourists) was a standout, taking in $32 million in Minnesota exports.

In other words, three countries accounted for about a third of Minnesota’s exports to Africa in 2014. There is much more room for trade both ways. Read more>>

Northfield News

Northfield Rotary Helps Ship Shoes, Books to Africa ( view article)
March 25, 2015
Charlie Cogan

The partners on a 16-month, international project met in person for the first time ever in Northfield earlier this month, to celebrate the arrival of books and shoes for school children in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Northfield Rotary Club hosted Albert Nyembwe, co-founder and director of Cilongo Foundation, and Patrick Plonski, executive director of Books for Africa, who told club members about the unusual collaboration. Read more>>

AllAfrica

Africa: Sir Emeka Offor Foundation and Books For Africa Donate 20,000 Books to Tanzania Schools ( view article)
March 12, 2015

The Sir Emeka Offor Foundation (SEOF), a non-governmental, philanthropic organization focused on youth employment, widows cooperative, education, healthcare and infrastructural development, is set to deliver a total of 20,000 academic books to five secondary schools, plus a University and a Primary school, in the Bagamoyo region of Tanzania. A celebration of the donation of books is scheduled tomorrow morning. The initiative is part of its continuing effort to promote literacy in the continent of Africa. UNICEF reports Tanzania's total adult literacy rate is 67.8 percent.

Since 2010, the Sir Emeka Offor Foundation has partnered with Books For Africa, a U.S.-based nonprofit organization, to fight illiteracy and promote education. Their combined efforts are aimed at ensuring African schools and libraries – including those in hard to reach communities – are sufficiently equipped with reading materials.

"Our partnership with Books For Africa is paying great dividends and I am happy that we can help provide access to books for as many children as possible in our continent," said Sir Emeka Offor. "Without education, people cannot create their own solution."  Read more>>

Star Tribune

Editorial ( view article)
February 23, 2015
Rosemond Owens & Patrick Plonski

As world leaders strategize about how best to combat international terrorism and groups like the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, they should give serious consideration to a long-term plan that supports nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that promote education, human rights, health care and economic development.

Military action alone will not rid the world of terrorism nor prevent the conversion of young men and women into terrorists.

International terrorism and violence is not confined to ISIL fighters in Syria and Iraq. There have been major incidents in North Africa (Libya), in the Horn of Africa (Somalia), in East Africa (Kenya) and in West Africa (Nigeria), as well as in Europe, Canada and Australia.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told last week’s White House summit on violent extremism that “bullets are not the silver bullets. Missiles may kill terrorists, but good governance kills terrorism.”

NGOs like St. Paul-based Books For Africa and other charities already are working to advance education and human rights across Africa. Shipping more than 32 million books to schoolchildren and law students across 49 African countries leads to a more educated and stable society, which in turn leads to the development of democracy and the rule of law. And a more educated society leads to stronger economic development, less poverty and more opportunity — all ingredients that counter radical violence. Read more>>

Mahad Wasuge

Reviving The National Library: A great opportunity for Somali youth
January 7, 2015
Mahad Wasuge

After the overthrow of the former military regime in Somalia in 1991, all government institutions were destroyed. The country was engulfed by what a Somali architect described as ‘a man made earthquake.’ All public buildings were ruined by the prolonged civil war and the educational institutions such as The National Library were among the hardest hit.

The National Library (TNL), a three-story building, was established in 1986 and is located at Hamar Weyne district at the center of Mogadishu, opposite of the National Museum and the National Theatre. The building has sustained major damages during the war, and all of its resources were looted; in the later years the building became a shelter for internally displaced people (IDPs) and squatters. However, currently, the building has been cleared and is ready for rehabilitation. Read More>>

Simply Buckhead 

Helping Hands: Our community’s exceptional volunteers find unique ways to give back (view article, 4th profile, middle of page)
November 5, 2014
Mickey Goodman

When Fotemah Mba planned a visit to his mother in their native Cameroon in January 2014 after living in America for 17 years, he asked her what he should bring for the children at the private school she founded.

“Bring pencils and pens,” she said. “Lots of pencils and pens.”

It wasn’t until he saw the joy on the children’s faces that he realized what a precious gift pencils are to kids in a country where millions have never set foot in a classroom. Of those who do attend school, many have never owned a book, and often 10 or 20 share a single text.

He vowed to find a way to help.  Read more>>

Global Reading Network

Print in Classrooms: Books For Africa helps to supply classrooms in need ( view article)
November 2014 Global Reading Network Newsletter

In addition to the lack of children’s decodable books, many classrooms in Africa have no access to “print” for children of all ages. Books For Africa is the world’s largest shipper of donated books to the African continent, with a goal to ship three million books in 2015. Books are generally in English or French (collected from individuals, schools, libraries, publishers, and companies across North America or France). Books For Africa has launched a program to print books in mother tongues and hopes to grow this program in the future.

For more information about this program, visit www.booksforafrica.org. For a summary of their recent project conducted with the US Embassy in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, click here.

Star Herald 

Students help others, give new life to old textbooks ( view article)
November 16, 2014
Irene North

College textbooks have a short life. Old editions languish unused or are thrown away. One group at Western Nebraska Community College is putting those books to good use.

The WNCC Muslim Student Association asked professors and students if they were planning on discarding their old editions to reconsider and donate the books to them. They wanted to send the books to Gambia, the home country of many of the MSA students, to be used in their schools.  Read more >>

Publishers Weekly 

Out of the Midwest: Books for Africa and Little Free Library Promote Literacy  ( view article)
November 13, 2014
Claire Kirch

Both individually and together, two Upper Midwest nonprofit organizations are reaching beyond America’s heartland to fulfill their mission of making books accessible to all. In 1988 Books for Africa was founded in St. Paul, Minn. Little Free Library was founded in Hudson, Wis., in 2009 and works on all seven continents. The two have partnered on shipping books to Africa for distribution to schools and libraries there since 2013.  Read more>>

Pioneer Press 

Editorial ( view article)
October 25, 2014
Patrick Plonski

The human tragedy of the Ebola crisis in West Africa is apparent for all to see. What we don't see every day in the news is the impact the outbreak is having on other parts of life, such as the economy.

Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone are poor countries to begin with. As developing countries, they don't have the resources to fight Ebola and deal effectively with other needs, including education. We see how even in a rich country like ours resources are stretched to fight Ebola. Imagine how much more difficult it is in a place like Guinea. Officials and economists fear dramatic economic downturns as all three West African countries fight Ebola.
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A World Bank Group analysis last month said that if the epidemic continued to surge, the economic impact "could grow eight-fold, dealing a potentially catastrophic blow to the already fragile states." The study added, however, that if "swift" national and international actions can contain the epidemic and reduce people's fear, the economic costs could be limited.

We in the West need to do all we can to contain the Ebola epidemic and, at the same time, help these small African countries survive economically and develop their educational infrastructure.

Books for Africa, based in St. Paul, has just shipped 27,000 French books to our partners in Guinea. The books will be received by the charity Hope of Guinea and the U.S. Peace Corps. They are committed to distributing the books to 25 communities that are eager to continue teaching and inspiring young people, despite the Ebola outbreak.

These books provide an investment in the people of Guinea so they can continue to function as a society and, hopefully, move beyond the current Ebola crisis.

Mshale

Books for Africa launches Africa-based Advisory Council
August 27, 2014
Joseph Tondo Masha

KILIFI, Kenya – Books for Africa, the largest shipper of donated text and library books to the African continent countries has vowed to expand its books donation program to end the book shortages in the region.

According to the organization’s Director of Diaspora Affairs, Mr Tom Gitaa, the United States based Books for Africa, which has been in existence for the last 25 years, has managed to donate 31 million books to 49 African countries. Kenya is among the African countries that have been receiving the books including universities, primary and secondary schools.

Gitaa was speaking at Pwani University during the launch of a new Africa-based Advisory Council for the organization. Ambassador Elkanah Odembo, the immediate former Kenyan envoy to the United States, got the opportunity to be endorsed as the first chairman of the Advisory Council for the organization in a ceremony which was chaired by the vice chancellor of Pwani University, Professor Mohamed Rajab. Read more>>

The Intelligencer

Grey Nun Academy fills hundreds of rooms in Africa with books( view article)
September 24, 2014

Cicero said, “A room without books is like a body without a soul.”

If this is true, Grey Nun Academy has been instrumental in filling the rooms – and souls -- in Africa with books. Grey Nun Academy’s Venth family spearheaded a book drive last spring for the organization Books For Africa to help end the book famine in Africa, and the Grey Nun community responded with 1400 books. Read more>>

AllAfrica

Gambia Bar Association Boosted ( view article)
From The Daily Observer (The Gambia)
August 18, 2014
Lamin B. Darboe

The organisation The Million Books to the Gambia (MBG), Thomson Reuters and Sir Emeka Offo Foundation last Tuesday donated books to the Gambia Bar Association (GBA), at a presentation ceremony held at the Brikama campus of the University of the Gambia (UTG).

In a statement sent to the Daily Observer, the Gambia Bar Association expressed their sincere gratitude to Million Books to the Gambia, under its project manager, Lamin Dibba and his entire team.

"Million Books to the Gambia is a collaboration of Books for Africa (BFA) and Hand in Health. The founder of Books for Africa, Tom Warth has done a lot of unusual things to promote charity and education, including walking across Minnesota in the USA and climbing Mount Kilimanjaro," the statement revealed. Read more>>

Sun Press & News

Osseo Schools Kidstop students donate more than 10,000 books to Books for Africa (view article)
August 21, 2014

At the beginning of the summer, Rush Creek Elementary Kidstop students set a goal to collect 1,000 books to donate to Books For Africa. The organization’s mission is to create a culture of literacy and provide tools of empowerment to the next generation of parents, teachers and leaders in Africa.

The service project allowed Rush Creek students the opportunity to contribute to community globally.

On Tuesday, Aug. 12, Rush Creek Kidstop students celebrated reaching their goal three times over as they collected more than 3,500 books and a raised an additional $1,000 in just four weeks. Fellow District 279 schools Weaver Lake Elementary and Cedar Island donated another 7,000 books, bringing the total donation to more than 10,000 for Books For Africa. Read more>>

Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN, USA)

Tanzania’s growth bears a closer look (view article)
May 18, 2014
Liberata Mulamula and Patrick Plonski

When Minnesotans think of Tanzania, if they’ve heard of it, they probably envision the majestic Mount Kilimanjaro or the Serengeti National Park, the world’s best-known wildlife sanctuary.

While we want you to visit those places and bring your friends, there is another Tanzania we want you to know about. It is a place with a population of 45 million, a third of whom are between 15 and 35 years old and constitute a growing and capable workforce. The country has an economic growth rate of 7 percent and is among the 20 fastest-growing economies in the world. Tanzania is twice the size of California.

It is also the fastest-growing market in East Africa. Exports to the United States were $420 million in 2013, up 71 percent over 2012. Exports from Minnesota grew nearly 50 percent to $5.6 million in the same period. Like many countries in Africa, Tanzania is establishing a stable democracy along with its economic stability. Read more>>

Atlanta Business Chronicle

Georgia growing business with Africa
Atlanta Business Chronicle
February 28 – March 6 Issue, p. 41A
James Munson {Munson is president of Munson International, an international relocation firm, and head of the Atlanta-South Africa Chamber of Commerce}

As Atlanta prepares to kick off its innovative Africa Atlanta 2014 on Feb. 28, it’s important to consider all of our connections with the countries of Africa from business to books.

I work with international businesses and am familiar with the growing relationship between Georgia and Africa. This relationship will be explored in depth in a number of conferences sponsored by the Georgia Tech Ivan Allen College initiative, Africa Atlanta 2014 including “Atlanta: A nexus of Global Business, Entrepreneurship, and Innovations” and “Economic Opportunities in Africa Conference” (programs that will presented later this year) and more (sic).

Exports from Georgia to Africa grew by more than 4 percent from 2011 to 2012 to a total of $2.7 billion. Imports grew during the same period by 24 percent to $1.4 billion, according to the Georgia Department of Economic Development.

Take one major trading partner, democratic South Africa 20 years after the end of apartheid. Georgia ranked eighth among all states in exports to South Africa in 2012. Georgia companies sent nearly $244 million worth of goods to South Africa in 2012, an increase of 46 percent over 2011. And Georgia’s imports from South Africa in 2012 totaled $570 million, a 64 percent increase over the previous year. South Africa recently opened a permanent show room in AmericasMart in Atlanta.

The state seems well-positioned for additional growth in Africa. Nineteen Georgia companies currently do business in South Africa including the Coca-Cola Co., Travelport L.P., United Parcel Service Inc., Ventyx and Movius Interactive Corp.

Georgia leads the nation in the export of wood pulp, poultry, boats and insecticides and is second in export of aircraft engines and parts to South Africa. Top imports include motor vehicles, minerals, iron and steel structures, wine and electrical appliances.

Another major export to South Africa and the African continent, no less important than our business products, is books through Books For Africa (BFA), a nonprofit with offices and warehouses in Smyrna, Ga., and St. Paul, Minn.

BFA has been in Georgia only five years, but in that short time it has shipped millions of books to African children and students. Founded in 1988 by Tom Warth, a retired Minnesota publisher, it has a simple mission: to end the book famine in Africa.

BFA has sent 29 million education and law books to 49 countries over the past 25 years. In 2012, BFA shipped through its Smyrna warehouse 2.2 million books valued at $28.3 million to 22 African countries, with an additional 616 computers and 15 brand-new law libraries. The Smyrna warehouse is filled to capacity and staff are raising funds to move to a larger space.

So business and books are interrelated. And there’s no better time to make that connection than during the exciting Africa Atlanta 2014.

St. Cloud Times (St. Cloud, MN, USA)

Sartell woman, originally from Ghana, is Books for Africa's president (view article)
March 8, 2014
Frank Lee

Rosemond Owens’ ticket out of Africa was a good education, and now she helps others in her native country by providing free books.

The Sartell woman and Ghana native is the first African woman to be elected president of the St. Paul-based Books for Africa.

“I have had fundraisers for Books for Africa, and many area residents have donated thousands of dollars to Books for Africa,” she said.

Owens was introduced to Books for Africa while at the University of Minnesota by her mentor, a health policy analyst for Hennepin County; her mentor sat on the BFA board. Read more>>

International Business Times

Giving Tuesday: 5 Great Charities To Donate To This #GivingTuesday Holiday (View article)
December 3, 2013
Connor Adams Sheets

But if you'd rather skip the work and just be entirely sure you're giving to a reputable organization, here's a breakdown of five very different charities that people can trust to spend their donations to provide important services or benefits without taking advantage of the goodness of givers' hearts, and their willingness to open their wallets:

2. Books For Africa: As a continent, Africa struggles from a number of deep-rooted problems, ranging from poverty to war to corruption. One of the best ways to help Africans empower themselves and work toward a better life is to provide them with better educations, especially in the area of literacy, which can be a gateway to greatness…. Read more>>

The Reformer (St. Paul, MN, USA)

Ogbuagu meets Books For Africa Leaders (View Article)
Saturday, 31 August 2013

As she wraps up her two-weeks visit to the Twin Cities of Minnesota (USA) on Wednesday, August 28, founder/CEO of Chinkelly Schools and former Delta State Education Commissioner Dr. (Mrs.) Veronica Ogbuagu met with leaders of Books For Africa (BFA), the NGO that has donated more than 28 million books to 48 African countries since 1988, at BFA’s headquarters in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Read the article>>

Wall Street Journal

Books For Africa and Worldreader to Send Both E-Books and E-Readers and Content to Schools Throughout Africa (View article)
July 15, 2013

Books For Africa, a leading non-profit shipper of books, and Worldreader, a leading non-profit empowering the world's poorest people with e-readers and digital content, have formed a unique partnership to send both e-books and e-readers to schools and students across Africa in the coming months.

The partnership draws on the strengths of Books For Africa's distribution network across the continent and Worldreader's strength as the leading social enterprise providing digital content and e-readers for schools in Africa.

"It is truly a collaboration that that will allow both organizations to continue doing what they do best and, in working together, increase educational opportunities across the African continent," said Patrick Plonski, executive director of the St. Paul-based Books For Africa (BFA).

Read the article>>

Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN, USA)

A resurgent Africa seeks U.S. partners (View article)
May 12, 2013
Ebrahim Rasool and Robert Marx

It’s been 22 years since Nelson Mandela walked out of prison, the first steps toward South Africa becoming a free country. With political struggles behind it, South Africa could begin to focus on the future and the economy.

And now, two decades later, South Africa is poised for a strong economic future that can be made even stronger with investment from the United States and states like Minnesota. Consider:

• Sub-Saharan African economies will grow by 5.6 percent in 2013, which compares very favorably to the projected 3.3 percent for advanced economies, according to International Monetary Fund projections... Read the article>>

Publishers Weekly

Building Momentum for Little Free Libraries (View article)
Feb 08, 2013
By Claire Kirch

It’s been four years since international business consultant Todd Bol constructed a wooden replica of a one-room schoolhouse, filled it with books, and mounted it on a post in his front yard in a suburb of metropolitan Minneapolis, Hudson, Wis., in tribute to his late mother. A sign urged passersby to take free books or else leave books. Today, Bol and Rick Brooks, an instructor at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, head up the nonprofit organization Little Free Library, which promotes literacy through both sales and donations.

LFL has more than 5,000 registered structures in all 50 states and in approximately 40 countries. “We know there are many more than that,” Bol said, estimating there may be closer to 6,000 little free libraries at this point. “Many people build libraries and never register with us or tell us.”

The LFL movement has exploded in the last year, with 4,000 registrations in 2012 compared to 100 the previous year. While 90% of the libraries to date are in the U.S., and most library registrations have been made by individuals, with some businesses involved, Bol said that there’s been a recent shift: more public libraries, museums, schools, and other nonprofits are establishing partnerships with LFL. “I suspect we’ll double in under six months what we are doing,” Bol noted. “Our momentum is growing.”

Read the article>>

St. Paul Pioneer Press

Hudson, Wis.-based Little Free Library heading to Africa (View the article)
January 27, 2013

Hudson-based Little Free Library is following the success of its book exchanges in the U.S. with an initiative to establish more than 2,500 of its little libraries in Africa.

The nonprofit has teamed up with Books for Africa in St. Paul. The two groups plan to begin shipping the libraries to a number of African countries, starting with Ghana, where one woman already has set up 52 book exchanges.

"People are excited (in Ghana)," said Todd Bol, co-founder of Little Free Library. "They find it delightful to get the books out to the kids."

Read the article>>

Minnesota Public Radio

Nonprofits sending libraries to Africa (View the article)
January 19, 2013

St. Paul-based Books For Africa is teaming up with another nonprofit to send more than 2,500 Little Free Libraries to Africa over the next several years.

Little Free Libraries, based in Hudson, Wis., will design and build the book boxes. Thousands are already located in neighborhoods throughout the U.S., and the movement has spread to 36 countries around the world. Books For Africa will supply the books.
Read the article>>

KSTP

St. Paul Warehouse Stores Books for Africa (Watch the video clip)
December 20, 2012

Volunteers help keep Books For Africa running as the world’s largest shipper of donated text and library books. They pitch in to sort and pack books in both our St. Paul, MN, and Atlanta, GA, locations. KSTP visited the books for Africa warehouse while volunteers from the Neighborhood Development Center while they worked in the St. Paul warehouse as a part of their End of the Year Celebration.

Watch the KSTP video here>>

LillieNews.com

Small dream becomes big reality: Oakdale man spearheads efforts to ship 44,000 books to Nigeria (View Article)
December 9, 2012

After traveling to Nigeria in the summer of 2011, Oakdale resident Atare Agbamu came home with a mission.

Agbamu, who grew up in Delta State, Nigeria, had returned to his homeland after the death of his mother, and while there he visited Chinkelly Schools, founded by his distant cousin, Veronica Ogbuagu.

The school facilities in the city of Ekpan were world class, Agbamu noted, but something very important missing from the library -- books.

"The shelves were bare," Agbamu recalled, noting that he immediately went back to Ogbuagu's office to ask her what he could do to help. Stocking a school library is expensive, Ogbuagu told him, and when people in Africa are battling hunger and disease, books are often a luxury out of reach.

"Africa struggles with poverty and famine," Agbamu said. "But there's another famine that most people don't know: people starving of mind food." Read more>>

Echo Press

Group plans to ship agricultural books to Africa (View article)
April 8, 2012

Books For Africa (BFA) has begun a new initiative to collect and ship much-needed agricultural libraries to schools, universities and government agencies in Africa.

The project is modeled after BFA’s Jack Mason Law & Democracy Initiative in which law books and law libraries from Thomson Reuters are sent to law schools in Africa.

“There is a great demand from our friends in Africa for agricultural and natural resource books of all kinds,” said Patrick Plonski, executive director of BFA. “They need the educational support to develop their agriculture sector. Minnesota has a wealth of agricultural resources and expertise so it’s another way we can help.”

According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Office (FAO), 73 percent of the rural population of Africa consists of smallholder farmers, and in Sub-Sahara African alone, agriculture accounts for 21 percent of the entire continent’s GDP.

This agricultural, natural resources and vocational library is aimed at providing high-school level agricultural education information and resources to rural populations in Africa, and includes books from sources as wide-ranging as the FAO and major universities to small publishers and equipment manufacturers. Read more>>

Awoko Newspaper

5,000 Books for Peace Corps in Salone (View Article)
March 9, 2012

The United States Embassy in collaboration with Sierra Leone Book Trust (SALBOT) yesterday donated about 5,000 (five thousand books) to the Peace Corps in the country.

During the ceremony which took place at the Peace Corps Office Signal Hill- Wilberforce, Mitchell Benedict the Charge d’ Affairs at the US Embassy said that these books will be donated to the Peace Corps Volunteers for the school children in the country.

He disclosed that the mission of SALBOT is to provide books to improve literacy and education and this is in line with the goals of the Embassy and Peace Corps. “We all believe that education is the key to development, and that information is an important factor in building a more peaceful, stable future for Sierra Leone.”

Speaking about the importance of books the US Charge d’ Affairs said apart from the books being valuable classroom teaching aid, “they provide opportunities for independent study research. We believe that education is key to development particularly to the development of women and girls because books, and educating women are a link that has been provided to help develop a nation and to help move that nation forward both its economy and its health.”

Mitchell Benedict furthered that “books nurture ideas, they provide ideas to revolt against. If you can get something formulated, it helps you to form your own ideas and from that things can start to happen. It is important at so many levels. We are opening new horizon for the future leaders of the country. We affirm the fundamental truth that ‘knowledge is power.’” Read more>>

 

allAfrica.com

Gambia: One Million Books for Gambia Reaches NBR (View Article)
February 24, 2012
By: Alhagie Babou Jallowin

NBR — Hand In Health, an NGO based in Minnesota in the United States in partnership with Books For Africa, Wednesday morning commenced the distribution of one million books to various schools in the North Bank Region (NBR).

The distribution is meant to implement the 'one million books project' which will increase the current literacy rate among women and children.

The beneficiary schools are: Anglican Mission School, Farafenni Lower Basic and Farafenni Upper Basic School. They all received cartons of books from Books for Africa organisation. The distribution took the form of a walk from Bamba Tenda to Farafenni Lower Basic School, led by the Nigerian high commissioner to The Gambia,Her Excellency Esther John Audu;the regional education Directorate Region Four, Sait Saine and students. Read more>>

 

The Pioneer Press

Books For Africa founder completes Gambian trek (View Article)
February 22, 2012
By: Mary Divine

Tom Warth, the founder of St. Paul-based Books for Africa, finished his walk across Gambia this morning.

Warth, of Marine on St. Croix, posted the news on his Facebook page. He told the Pioneer Press before he left that he was undertaking the 20-mile walk to highlight the lack of books in that West African country.

Warth, 76, founded Books for Africa in 1988. He and his walking partners are distributing some of the 44,000-plus books they've shipped to Gambia to schools and universities.

Warth's route took him along the unpaved, pothole-filled Trans-Gambian Highway, from the Senegal border on the south to the Senegal border on the north. Read more>>

 

The Star Tribune

Philanthropy beat: Hiking in Gambia to halt 'book famine' (View Article)
February 20, 2012
By: Jean Hopfensperger

Tom Warth has been drumming up support for his Books for Africa nonprofit for 20 years. Today, he's slated to embark on one of his more creative fundraising endeavors: He's walking across Gambia.

Lest this appear to be a super-human feat, 'tis not the case. The length of Gambia, on the north-south road he will travel, is about 30 miles. But if all goes as planned, it will be a memorable journey.

Warth, interviewed by phone from Gambia, said he expects to be joined by medical volunteers from the Gambian nonprofit Hand in Health, students, international diplomats and other supporters along the way.

A tractor carrying thousands of books will follow behind the group, distributing them to the schools and schoolchildren.
Read more>>

 

The Star Tribune

Books for Africa, progress for Ghana (View Article)
January 14, 2012
By: Neal St. Anthony

This month St. Paul-based Books for Africa will ship $1 million worth of books, nearly 90,000 titles, to Ghana in West Africa, courtesy of Cargill Inc., which built a $100 million cocoa bean-processing plant in Ghana in 2008. The ag-related giant employs 4,000 in nine African countries including Ghana and Ivory Coast. Patrick Plonski is CEO of 23-year-old Books for Africa, founded by retired St. Paul publisher Tom Warth. Kojo Amoo-Gottfried is Cargill's managing director in Ghana. They participated in a recent forum at the University of Minnesota on doing business in Africa.

Q:Patrick, why are Books for Africa and Cargill sending five, 40-foot ocean containers to Ghanian schools and libraries?

Plonski:Ghana is the No. 1 recipient for our organization. It makes good development sense because economic literacy makes sense. You can't provide education without books, and there is a huge shortage in Africa. From Cargill's perspective, it helps to build an educated workforce and sends a strong message that Cargill is not only interested in making money but in helping to develop the country. Books are tangible, they are appreciated and they can be passed around. They looked at our inventory sheet and told us what they want. School books and library books, some university books and one law library provided by Thomson Reuters.
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Minnesota Public Radio

In Libya and elsewhere, the best hope lies in literacy (View Article)
September 23, 2011
By Kofi Annan and Walter Mondale

St. Paul, Minn. — After the recent armed conflict in Libya, people there will be working hard to replace 40 years of authoritarian rule with a new democratic system of governance. It will not be an easy task, but one worth the effort and one that will need the continued support of partners from the international community.

History shows such progressive movements, whether against colonial masters or repressive regimes, are no guarantee of embedding democracy. As young men, we saw a similar wave of change sweep through Africa in the wake of the independence movements half a century ago. Like now, hopes were high both in the countries themselves and among those who wished the new states well. These hopes were by no means always fulfilled.

There are many reasons for these setbacks, including ethnic and religious divisions and corroding corruption. But while the causes of democratic failure are varied, there are two ingredients common to success: a determination to educate a country's citizens and a commitment to the rule of law.
Read more>>

 

The Star Tribune

St. Paul book donations to Africa top 25 million: 
Nonprofit supplier Books for Africa celebrates the milestone and seeks help at its St. Paul warehouse
(View Article)
September 8, 2011

In 1988, Tom Warth set out to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, but stumbled upon a much loftier goal -- ending what he calls Africa's "book famine."

Warth, of Marine on St. Croix, had just sold his book business and was traveling the world. He ended up at a public library in Uganda, where he saw a librarian, children and virtually no books.

Back in Minnesota, he collected surplus textbooks and sent them to that library in Uganda.

It was the start of Books for Africa, a nonprofit organization based in St. Paul that has shipped millions of books to 46 African countries.

The official number of donated books topped 25 million recently. So on Thursday, Books for Africa celebrated that milestone and International Literacy Day by calling for volunteers to sort and pack books at its St. Paul warehouse. The festivities continue next weekend with a South African-style barbecue at the warehouse, open to the public.
Read more>>

 

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Volunteers Sort and Pack Books For Africa (View Article)
August 22, 2011

A trip to Uganda left Thomas Warth with an urge to do something about the empty library buildings. Due to the lack of books in Africa and his effort to give back, Warth founded Books For Africa in 1988 as a way to fill the appointed buildings with the power of the written word. Today, the Minnesota-based nonprofit, with its two warehouses based in Smyrna, has become the world’s largest shipper of books to Africa.

Last Saturday, 40 volunteers came to the organization’s 25,000-square-foot warehouse in Smyrna to sort, organize and pack donated books that will be shipped to various schools in Africa. Books are received from publishing partners, schools and libraries.

“In Africa, there is one book for every 100 students,” said Ron Woods, Director of Development and Community Relations-Atlanta. “So for a child seeing trucks coming to deliver books is the same as our experience on Christmas morning. They really look forward to this.” Books range from kindergarten/preschool material to filling law libraries, which Books for Africa helped open due to donations.
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Minnesota Public Radio

St. Paul-based Books for Africa shipments hit 1.9M (View Article)
July 26, 2011

St. Paul, Minn. — Books For Africa says it has shipped around 1.9 million books to 21 African countries in the past 12 months, a new high for the St. Paul-based nonprofit.

The group says the books were worth $22.2 million dollars. Books for Africa says it also shipped 643 computers and 13 brand new law libraries to Africa during the fiscal year that ended June 30.
Read more>>

 

St. Paul Pioneer Press

Patrick Plonski: Ideas, books and the building of democracy (editorial) (View Editorial)
February 12, 2011

The peaceful throngs on the streets of Cairo have won the first round in the battle for democracy in Egypt by forcing President Hosni Mubarak out of office. But the hard work of nation building is only just beginning.

For Egypt to thrive as a truly democratic state, it will have to build up its educational institutions and civic organizations and establish the essential ingredient of any democracy: the rule of law.

American organizations dedicated to these principles are willing to help - organizations like St. Paul-based Books For Africa and its Jack Mason Law & Democracy Initiative. Books For Africa believes that education is the great equalizer in the world and that books are the foundation of a strong educational system. Over the past 23 years, Books For Africa has shipped 24 million books to 45 African countries, including Tunisia and Egypt. In August, Books for Africa shipped a container of 18,000 books to the Alexandria Library in Egypt.
Read more>>

 

The Star Tribune

Teaming up to stop Africa's 'book famine' (View Article)
January 22, 2011

As one of the poorest regions in the world, Africa is all too familiar with famines.

But there is one shortage on the continent, home to about a billion people in more than 50 countries, that has stretched for decades and decades: The lack of books.

"The need is incredible," Patrick Plonski, executive director of Books for Africa, said recently. "There is a huge demand. Our goal is to end the book famine in Africa."
Read more>>

 

Mshale

Books For Africa and Thomson Reuters sign $1.2 million agreement (View Article)
Goal is to support establishment of the rule of law and democracy in Africa
December 1, 2010

Books For Africa, the largest shipper of donated text books to Africa and Thomson Reuters - Legal, the legal publishing behemoth, on Monday signed a $1.2 million agreement aimed at supporting governing institutions and the rule of law in Africa's emerging democracies.

The agreement signed at Thomson Reuters' headquarters in Eagan, Minnesota, is directed at Books For Africa's Jack Mason Law & Democracy Initiative and will include the provision of $1.2 million worth of legal education books and materials to law schools in Africa's developing democracies. Thomson Reuters funds to offset the shipping costs of the legal texts and will continue to provide advertising, logistical and printing support to Books For Africa and the Jack Mason Law & Democracy Initiative.
Read more>>

 

School Library Journal

Capstone Donates $3 Million in Books to School Libraries in Africa  (View Article)
November 30, 2010

Just in time for the holidays, children's book publisher Capstone is donating $5 million worth of books to Books for Africa, the largest shipper of donated text and library books to the continent.

Some 300,000 overstock books already began their journey to Africa on November 24, when they left the publisher's warehouse in Mankato, MN, and made their way to the Books for Africa offices in St. Paul, MN. The books are now being sorted and packaged for shipment to Africa.

"This incredibly generous donation from Capstone is one of the largest publisher donations received by Books for Africa we can remember and will fill many, many school libraries across Africa with books," says Pat Plonski, the nonprofit organization's executive director. "We truly appreciate the tremendous support of everyone at Capstone in helping to increase levels of education and literacy across Africa. Through education we can prevent many problems in the developing world."
Read more>>

 

Smyrna-Vinings Patch

Books for Africa delivers education (View Article)
Nonprofit has sent more than 23 million donated text and library books to Africa 
November 25, 2010

Picture this: it's 20-plus years ago in a Ugandan classroom and a studious young girl is waiting patiently for her turn to read an out-of-date textbook. Twenty or so classmates also wait their turn to read quickly and take notes from the lone tattered learning material being passed around.

Tom Warth witnessed such a moment and decided he had to do something. That something became Books For Africa and its mission to gather books from the United States and ship them to Africa, where 40 percent of the 47 million kids have never been to a classroom.

Since its 1988 founding in St. Paul, Minn., this nonprofit has sent more than 23 million donated text and library books to 45 different African countries. Its commitment to creating a culture of literacy on the African continent is nothing short of inspiring.
Read more>>

 

Minnesota Public Radio

Mankato-based publisher to donate 300,000 books to Africa (View Article)
November 24, 2010

A Mankato-based children's book publisher is donating 300,000 overstock books to a nonprofit group that collects and ships books to African countries. 

The donation from Capstone is the largest that Twin Cities-based Books for Africa has received in several years, officials said.

The donated books, which Capstone says are worth $5 million, will be shipped to the Books for Africa warehouse in St. Paul starting on Wednesday. They'll then be packed and shipped to Africa.
Read more>>

 

The Wall Street Journal

PepsiCo and Books For Africa Bring 20,000 Books to South African Children (View Article)
November 17, 2010

PepsiCo (NYSE: PEP), in coordination with Books For Africa, the largest shipper of donated books to Africa, announced today that it will distribute 20,000 books and supplies to locations in need in Johannesburg and the surrounding region. 

Throughout the week, SIMBA, PepsiCo's local snack business in South Africa, with support from local community leaders, will deliver the books to three schools and one orphanage in rural and impoverished areas facing challenges such as high unemployment levels. The partnership with Books For Africa was driven by MOSAIC, PepsiCo's African American employee resource group, and the company's global technology function, Business + Information Solutions, in an effort to expand community engagement activities outside of the United States.

"PepsiCo's involvement with Books For Africa responds to the recognized need to improve education and computer literacy in South Africa, particularly in rural areas," said Arnold Selokane, Community Manager at SIMBA in Isando, Johannesburg, who is leading distribution efforts and will personally deliver the donations to the schools and children. "Through this donation, we hope to generate broader awareness of the needs and issues in Africa. We will continue to work with communities in which we do business and form partnerships to bring about positive change."
Read more>>

 

Minnesota Public Radio

Books, by the Millions, for Africa (View or Listen to the Article)
October 6, 2010

While many of us take books for granted, in some parts of the world they are still a rarity. A St. Paul-based organization is trying to change this by sending millions of books, most of them school textbooks, to Africa.

In what used to be the keg room at the old Hamms Brewery in St. Paul, April Gilbert leads some new volunteers through what is now the Books for Africa Warehouse.
Read more>>

 

The Star Tribune

Alexandra Fuller to Speak at Literature Event: Books for Africa conference is this weekend (View Article)
October 6, 2010

Books for Africa's conference on African literature takes place Friday and Saturday, featuring Alexandra Fuller, author of the bestselling "Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight," as the keynote speaker.

The conference opens at 6 p.m. Friday with a free reading by Somali novelist and playwright Nuruddin Farah in the Cowles Auditorium of the Humphrey Center at the University of Minnesota. A reading and panel discussion at 1:30 p.m. Saturday in Cowles Auditorium features Nigerian writer Uwem Akpan, Kenyan writer and editor Billy Karanja Kahora and Fuller, followed by a reception and signing.
Read more>>

 

The New Media (Rwanda's First Daily)

Over 40 Schools to Get Textbooks from U.S. (View Article)
May 2010

41 schools countrywide are set to benefit from ‘Books for Africa’ project, by receiving 22,000 textbooks published in both English and Kinyarwanda for pre-primary and primary school children.

Books for Africa is a US based non-profit organisation that collects, sorts and ships books to children in Africa with the ultimate goal of ending ‘book famine’ in Africa.

The first batch of the books was distributed yesterday at Groupe Scolaire Mukamira in Nyabihu district, Northern Province.
Read more>>

 

St. Paul Pioneer Press

Crossroads to the World (editorial) (View Editorial)
April 2010

There is a green, gold and red sign jutting from a humble office building in St. Paul's Lowertown neighborhood that says "Books for Africa." It's a small statement (in the colors used for many African flags) that our city boasts the world's largest shipper of donated books to Africa — 22 million and counting after more than two decades in business.

This week, Ghana's ambassador to the U.S., Daniel Ohene Agyekum, came to the Twin Cities for a Books for Africa fundraiser and to pose in front of part of the latest shipment. Ghana is the group's largest recipient nation among 45 African countries it has shipped books to. Books for Africa is currently filling a 40-foot sea container with more than 20,000 books bound for the capital city of Accra.

Textbook diplomacy earned a visit last year from President Sharif Sheik Ahmed of Somalia, another book-recipient nation, further evidence that Lowertown has become a world crossroads to rival Paris, London, New York — and perhaps even Minneapolis.
Read more>>

 

More Magazine

The Book Farmer of Botswana (View Article)
February 2010

On this broiling October day in Maun, no one at the book choosing is complaining about the donation. Many of the visitors have walked, hitchhiked or bounced along in a public bus for up to 10 hours to get here. An air of purpose pervades the room. There is no breeze, no water and no snacks, but nobody seems to notice. “You have to see Pam to believe her,” says David Tregilges, an educator in Botswana. “She is this little fireball of a woman, fast-talking, passionate and undaunted by obstacles.” If she sees a child alone, she will make reading recommendations with an intensity that Tregilges says “always inspires and motivates.” Thanks in large part to Shelton, he says, over the past decade reading for pleasure has become a possibility for thousands in Botswana. In 2007, Shelton  received a James Patterson PageTurner Par Excellence Award for her devotion to cultivating readers.
Read more>>

 

Mankato Free Press

Free Books on Way to Africa: Capstone Publishers and Friends Giving Gift That Lasts (View Article)
November 23, 2009

More than 27,000 free books began wending their way to Africa Monday, courtesy of a local publishing company.

Children’s books emanating from Capstone Publishers’ North Mankato warehouse will stock school libraries throughout Africa under the Books for Africa program.
Read more>>

 

The Mining Journal

Marquette Native Promotes Books For Africa (View Article)
October 11, 2009

The exotic smells of chicken cooked Gambian style, North African lamb and date stew filled the community room at Peter White Public Library Friday evening.

People were there to taste the African dishes and then listen to Marquette native Carole Patrikakos, 30, who now lives in Minneapolis, speak about her work with the organization "Books for Africa."

We're constantly fundraising to get books to Africa where they're needed the most," she said, adding that those areas are often in countries devastated by civil wars.
Read more>>

 

CNN.com

Africa's Hidden Famine (View Article)
June 17, 2009

At first, the children's eyes light up with anticipation.

Then they stare in wonder. Some reach out and cradle the object as if it were treasure to be guarded. Others lift it up in triumph, singing and dancing in joy.

The gift that inspires this kind of marvel in many African children is none other than a simple schoolbook.
Read more>>

 

Atlanta Business Chronicle

Books For Africa Expands In Atlanta (View Article)
June 19, 2009

Books For Africa (BFA), the largest shipper of donated books to Africa, is opening a new warehouse in the Atlanta area that will become the organization’s primary shipping, receiving and sorting center.

Locally based Delta Air Lines and Our Reading Spaces, a nonprofit that shares BFA’s mission of improving literacy and education in Africa, has joined in welcoming Books For Africa to metro Atlanta...
Read more>>

 

Mshale

Books For Africa Expands Operations into Atlanta (View Article)
May 28, 2009

Books for Africa, the world’s largest shipper of donated books to the African Continent has opened a 20,000 square-foot warehouse in Atlanta.  The new facility, located just outside city of Atlanta in Smyrna, will serve as the organization’s primary shipping, receiving and sorting center.

Speaking during the grand opening ceremony James Kiiru, the Commercial attaché to the Kenyan Embassy in Washington DC praised the organization for its work…
Read more>>

 

The Liberian Journal

Ahmed Sirleaf, Others Secure Shipment of Books for Liberian Law School (View Article)
October 24, 2008

Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law at the University of Liberia in Monrovia, the Liberian capital, is expected to receive a shipment of law books and legal reference materials soon from the United States, The Liberian Journal has learned.

Books For Africa and Faegre & Benson Law Firm in Minneapolis, Minnesota, have donated the books…
Read more>>

 

Mshale

Books For Africa Celebrates 20 Years: 20 Million Books in 20 Years (View Article)
October 2, 2008

On September 12th the Minnesota and African communities did more than reconnect at The Minnesota History Center for the Books for Africa 20th Anniversary Gala. They celebrated their connection and renewed their pledge to support each other in the noble cause to end Africa’s book famine. In a jam packed auditorium, attendees wearing brightly colored and beautifully patterned African outfits keenly listened as representatives from Africa and local leaders praised and encouraged the organization for its work.

“I never imagined that I would have to speak to so many people today!” exclaimed Welile Nhlapo, South African ambassador to the U.S.... 
Read more>>

 

KARE11.com

Building a Bridge with Books (View Article)
September 2008

In most places, they'd end up in a landfill or recycling bin.

But at the old Hamm's Brewery in St. Paul, thousands and thousands of used books and classroom text books are sorted and packed daily, bound for an underdeveloped continent desperate for 'anything' to read.

Twin Cities-based 'Books For Africa' is celebrating both its 20th year, and its 20 millionth book sent to schools, universities, and libraries in 42 different African nations...
Read more>>

Now, 20,000 students in 30 schools in 30 communities have access to books that will broaden individual horizons, enhance classrooms, and maybe significantly change a life or two.

Rose Zulliger, Peace Corps Volunteer who organized and distributed a BFA shipment in South Africa
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