Books For Africa, Inc.

Rating: 4.71 stars   21 reviews

Nonprofit Issues:

Children & Youth, Education, International


253 E 4th St. Suite 200 St. Paul MN 55101 USA


Books For Africa was founded in 1988 by Tom Warth, a Minnesota publisher whose dream was to ship donated books to the children of Africa. Warth's visit to a Ugandan library, where books were almost non-existent, inspired him to create a system for collecting discarded books from American schools, libraries and publishers to send to Africa. Books For Africa remains the largest shipper of donated text and library books to the African continent, shipping over 28 million books to 49 different countries since 1988. Over the past 12 months BFA has shipped 2.2 million books valued at $28.3 million to 22 African countries, with an additional 616 computers and 15 brand new law libraries.


2013 marks BFA's 25 Anniversary! We are celebrating the 28 million books shipped to 49 African countries thus far, and re-committing our efforts to send even more quality books in the years to come.

Target demographics:

African schools and libraries that do not have sufficient books to support learning and recreational reading.

Direct beneficiaries per year:

Each container shipped supplies enough books for ten school libraries. BFA ships about 2 containers every week!

Geographic areas served:

all of Africa

2012 Top-Rated Nonprofit
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Reviews for Books For Africa, Inc.

Rating: 5 stars  

I am writing this letter in support of Books for Africa, a MN Based Charitable Education
organization, that I have come to know and support since 1999.
I have been and still is a strong supporter of Books for Africa because I relate to the circumstances
of the millions of children that Books for Africa is reaching out in Africa.
The day I discovered the existence of Books for Africa was one of my dreams come true. It is
not an exaggeration and here is why?
I was born in a rural village in a one room grass covered hut that we shared with the farm and
domestic animals at one corner, and an open fire place at the center of the room. A raised bunker
bed made of local materials is hanging little over the shoulders of the farm animals, and a
flickering lamp fueled by of animal fat or wax at one corner. That was the setting of the rural
house hold in Ethiopia in the village I was born. That setting is still true to over 50% Sub-
Saharan Africa and the continent in general in those countries lacking economic development.
I will be turning 50 years next week, and to date there is no electricity and running water
in the village I was born. It is very remote that modern amenities are years away. So how did
I get here from that environment against all odds?
The story is long but briefly…When I was two years old my maternal grandmother decided it
was time for her daughter to be in the city and without much publicity she scooped me and my
mom, and I ended up leaving in a larger town where schooling was available, and I went to a
Catholic pre-school followed by elementary and secondary public school education. From there
I maximized the opportunity to further my education and have had a successful career in Ethiopia.
I have a successful career here in the US as well, and currently I am pursuing a PhD on
Leadership and Organizational Change. All this has become possible because I was given an
opportunity to read and write. That is what Books for Africa is doing for millions of African
Over the years, I was part of Books for Africa witnessing its growth. For instance Ethiopia had
received only 12 containers of books in 1999. As of budget year 2011, Ethiopia received 175
sea containers of books and a total of 3.85 million books to date. Can you imagine how many
Asratie’ are born out of the opportunity to read and write that these books provided?
I am convinced that no international organization has done to educate the African children that
can compete with Books for Africa, and that is why I remain its permanent volunteer and supporter,
and gives it the highest praise and recognition. I hope you do too.
Asratie Teferra
Chair, Ethiopian African 2000 Millennium Group
3924 Oliver St, Hyattsville, MD 20782
P.301-277-3950 C.630-802-5901

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Rating: 5 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

In 2003 a Books for Africa staff person heard I was going to Africa to visit friends and asked me to look in on a few recipients to see how they were doing with their books. Perhaps it was a thinly-disguised attempt to get me hooked, but it captured my heart and mind. I met so many wonderful hardworking people and kids, from a refugee camp in Botswana, to the Rotary Club in Mzuzu Malawi, to a school building project in Eshowe, South Africa, all of them confident and passionate that education was the way to develop every person's complete potential. We're not giving people a handout, we're giving them tools to be better family members and community and world leaders. Books for Africa is a simple idea, efficient and effective, that changes the future for millions, yes millions, of people.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

I've walked into empty libraries where there are a few old magazines and no books, and I've walked into the same libraries a year later where there are fifty kids reading and studying. I've been to law schools where forty graduate students share a single book, and I've been back to see them with a library of thousands of books. When I ask what Books for Africa could do better, the number one answer is "MORE BOOKS!"

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Books for Africa has challenges to confront: we don't have many agriculture books, thought agriculture is the number one subject in Africa. We lack books in native language. We need to navigate the transition from print to electronic media that is happening in the US already. We need to work to a sustainable model where books are locally written, edited, printed, and distributed without us.

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How did you learn about this organization?

a friend of a friend

What is its top priority in the long run?

to end the book famine in Africa

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?


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