Books2Africa is a UK-registered charity (1152599) founded in 2012 whose mission is to promote a culture of ‘readcycling’ and improve the quality of education in Africa, through the collection, processing, shipping and distribution of quality books, computers and educational materials that equip individuals, institutions, and communities to acquire knowledge and achieve their full potential in a globalised world.
Books2Africa’s work contributes to addressing two significant problems simultaneously:
According to the UK Government’s Waste Strategy:
“We use too much and are too ready to throw things away, and this waste causes damage if it is not managed properly. We can no longer ignore this” (p 15).
“Help our society move away from a ‘take, make, use and throw’ approach to resources and materials and instead waste less and reuse, recycle and repair more. We will leave behind our traditional linear economic model and create a more sustainable and efficient circular model from which the environment, the economy and society all benefit” (p 16).
“We will keep resources in use for as long as possible” (p 15).
According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) report:
“Globally, six out of ten children and adolescents are not learning a minimum in reading and mathematics. The total – 617 million – includes more than 387 million children of primary school age and 230 million adolescents of lower secondary school age. The proportion is even higher for adolescents at 61%”.
“Sub-Saharan Africa has the single largest number – 202 million – of children and adolescents who are not learning. Across the region, nearly nine out of ten kids between the ages of about 6 and 14 are not gaining minimum proficiency levels in reading and mathematics”.
At Books2Africa, our ‘readcycling’ model is designed to extend the life of educational materials by preventing perfectly usable materials such as book and computers from going to recycling/landfill sites. This is achieved by ensuring that individuals and organisations have a convenient alternative by using Books2Africa to send their educational materials to be re-used by individuals and institutions across Africa who lack adequate access to such materials. This approach is environmentally sustainable, cost-effective and improves the quality of education in underprivileged communities.
Our model complements the UK government’s waste strategy of reducing how much waste ends up in recycling/landfill sites, as well as the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals 4 (Quality Education) and 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production). In 2017, Books2Africa became an organisation in Special Consultative Status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and has attended and delivered statements at ECOSOC’s High Level Segment debates at the UN headquarters in New York, making it a stakeholder NGO in education and sustainable international development.
We believe quality education has the power to enable individuals to achieve their full potential, regardless of age, gender, economic status, or nationality.
With several stakeholders including state and non-state actors working to improve the education sector, Books2Africa focuses on the provision of readcycled educational materials such as books and computers to individuals, institutions and communities in Africa, directly and immediately improving the quality of teaching and learning, as well as access to knowledge and information.
In an age where disinformation is prevalent, education is vital and Books2Africa’s three core values reflect our commitment to the dissemination of knowledge that is factual, truthful, and representative of the diverse perspectives within the communities we serve in the UK and across the African continent. These values are reflected in our organisational culture and shared by our team members, sponsors, and partners.
Books2Africa’s definition of education is centred on a perspective of the world as a global community where different nations and civilisations can learn from one another to advance human development. Because every culture has something to teach us, sending Shakespeare’s Hamlet to a reader in Africa, or promoting Achebe’s Things Fall Apart to readers in the UK enables us to foster a more tolerant and informed global community where donors and beneficiaries are collaborators. As such, the books we provide are determined by the curiosity and requests of the communities we serve.
Books2Africa accepts donations of both new and used books and educational resources from individuals and organisations, ensuring that readers have available options to readcycle instead of recycling or sending materials to landfill. With the consent of our donors, up to 20% of donated educational materials are sold via our UK Charity Shop, to fund the charity’s overheads. This gives the charity a great degree of financial sustainability and ensures that 100% of donated funds from sponsors and partners are spent wholly on the shipping and distribution costs of donated materials to those in need across Africa.
Books2Africa was founded in 2012 by four Nigerian students from the same family whose experiences of the educational system in Nigeria and the UK inspired them to start readcycling books in order to make a difference in both communities. Today, the charity’s operational model and strategic priorities continue to be shaped by African perspectives within a framework that enables international collaboration and mutual respect. The founding members continue to play active roles within the Board of Trustees, together with Honorary Trustees who are appointed according to their experience with the charity.
Books2Africa’s current strategic objective is to readcycle 1 million books (500,000 kg) and 1,000 computers (3,000 kg) within the UK every year and distribute them to individuals, institutions, and communities across Africa’s 54 countries. We have established a robust logistical operation that enables donated educational materials to be tracked as they travel from our donors to our Processing Centre to be processed (catalogued or refurbished), before being shipped to Africa and distributed directly to individuals (via Distribution Centres) or indirectly by equipping libraries within academic institutions (schools, colleges, universities) and communities (community centres, hospitals, prisons etc).
We are grateful for the support of our donors, beneficiaries, team members, sponsors and partners.
The cost of transporting donated educational materials from the addresses of donors across the UK to our UK processing centre is funded by a collection fee and a drop-off fee contributed by donors. The collection fee covers the cost of sending a courier to collect boxes of donated items from donors’ addresses and the reduced drop-off fee is required from donors who wish to drop-off their boxes at a Books2Africa drop-off point to cover the cost of transporting their consolidated items from the drop-off point to our UK processing centre.
The overhead costs of the charity (rent, business rates, utility bills, staff salaries, volunteer lunches, insurance, equipment costs etc) are funded by selling up to 20% of donated items via our charity shop with the consent of donors. Our proprietary software enables us identify items which can be listed for sale on our charity shop on eBay and Amazon, and others are sold to wholesale book buyers who purchase items in bulk at a reduced price. Through a free bookmark included with every purchase, all buyers are encouraged to donate their books back to the charity after use.
Individuals, institutions, and communities who are approved to receive educational materials are required to raise funds to cover the shipping fees, clearing fees and distribution fees of their materials. However, most of these approved beneficiaries are unable to raise funds to cover these costs and Books2Africa must rely on the support of generous sponsors. Individuals and organisations can become Books2Africa sponsors via a one-off or monthly financial donation to our 1 Million Book Fund.
Every year, Books2Africa’s 1 Million Book Fund aims to raise £200,000 from individual sponsors who give monthly as well as organisational sponsors who give grants to cover the cost of shipping and distributing 1 million books and 1 thousand computers to individuals, institutions and communities in Africa.
Board of Trustees
The board of trustees consist of founding and honorary members.
The four founding directors are members of the same family and founded the charity during their time studying as international students at the University of Kent and the University of York. The founding directors together with appointed honorary trustees ensure the charity is governed and achieves its aims and objectives while staying true to its mission and values.
Dr Tonson Sango
Founding Trustee and
Director of Operations
Dr Precious Sango
Founding Trustee and
Director of Education
Mr Chumang Sango
Founding Trustee and
Director of IT
Founding Trustee and
Director of Partnership
Ms Arshita Nandan
Ms Alexandra Kieffer
Ms Langa Mpofu
Mr Prince Ikeru
UK Processing Team
Our enthusiastic team of paid staff and volunteers are the driving force of the charity, overseeing key aspects of our operations.
Processing Centre Manager
Charity Shop Supervisor
Tech Refurbishing Supervisor
Amazing individuals who inspire us and use their experience, skills and influence to promote our cause to a wider audience in order to increase our impact.
Fundraising Board Director, Fundraising and Marketing at Save The Children UK.
Supply Chain Development Manager with over 20 years experience in book publishing.
HM Ambassador to the Republic of Niger.
Zimbabwean author, scholar and Caine Prize nominee.
Yes. Most of the Science and Social Science subjects are universal and not culture specific. Books2Africa’s mission is to equip African students with educational materials that enable them to be competitive and help them achieve their full potential in a globalised world. As such, we believe not exposing Africans to Shakespeare for example is limiting their potential. At the same time, we recognise the need to encourage African scholarship. As such, we promote books by African authors via our Books2Africa Press programme.
Unlike most other charities, our book distribution model is demand driven. This means we provide books to people and projects/institutions who approach us via our website or at our distribution offices in Africa. When applying for books online, individuals and institutions in Africa can specify the academic level, subject and quantity of books they require and our team of volunteers select relevant books to match their request. By opening more Books2Africa Distribution Offices in Africa, people who need books in Africa can walk in, browse and select the books they want. In our experience, both new and used books are equally desirable and useful.
Clearing shipments through customs across different African countries can be challenging. Over the years, we have built an excellent track record of shipping, clearing and delivering books across 20 African countries. We have worked with many reputable shipping lines (including DSV, MSC and Maersk) and have developed strong partnerships with project coordinators and local organisations in Africa who ensure our shipments are cleared quickly, and books are delivered to the hands of students and teachers.
Considering most of the books we send to Africa are by non-African authors, Books2Africa shines the light on African authors and their perspectives by featuring their books on our Book of the Week post on social media and via Books2Africa Press – our publishing program which encourages African scholarship by publishing, marketing and distributing works by African authors via our Africa Distribution Centres.