According to UNESCO, some 250 million children globally leave grade school without proficiency in reading or writing. And in developing countries like Rwanda, children must learn not one, but two languages (their local and their national language) to avoid falling into poverty. But to get more kids reading, more children’s books in local languages are needed—a challenge that the nonprofit NABU.ORG is taking on.
“Ultimately, our goal is that children gain fluency in the language of business or entrepreneurship, whatever the national language is, so that they can succeed in fulfilling their potential,” said Tanyella Evans, CEO of NABU.ORG (a new iteration of the former nonprofit Library for All, which she co-founded in 2013). Fluency in a local language, she explained, makes children more adept at becoming fluent in a second national language, be that English, French, or Arabic.
With a presence in Rwanda, Haiti, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), NABU.ORG considers itself the first global publishing network of its kind. Though it’s hardly the only literacy nonprofit working in developing nations, NABU.ORG sets itself apart in its aims to distribute a tech-driven, global supply chain of original children’s books in local languages, while supporting the local writers and illustrators who create said books.
The lean team includes Evans; her co-creators, Isabel Sheinman and Taniya Benedict; and two directors, Amos Furaha and Francoise Thybulle (who are based in Rwanda and Haiti, respectively), plus a handful of other full-time employees and interns.