Meet a Company That IS Changing the World Library For All provides digital libraries to poverty-stricken countries. Know them.

By Jason Saltzman

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

For more than a year, AlleyNYC has supported an amazing initiative. On their year anniversary, it is time to get the word out and tell the world about how a bunch of women entrepreneurs are going to help change the world… like, for real change the world.

This nonprofit is called Library For All and what it does is badass. They provide digital libraries to poverty-stricken parts of the world. They believe that through education you can solve most, if not all, of the world's issues. And I believe them.

I asked Rebecca McDonald, founder and CEO, about how it works and what they need to grow and here's what we have:

What exactly do you do?

We provide students in developing countries with access to a digital library. These students wouldn't otherwise have access to books because they are too expensive or simply unavailable.

We make our library available to schools at a much lower cost than building physical libraries. Our platform is stocked with the highest-quality and locally relevant content available from international, local publishers and OER providers.

How do the kids get access to the Library?

We partner with local and international organizations who either purchase devices (low-cost tablets, PCs and feature phones) or have them donated. We're also working with local Haitian device manufacturer Surtab to make the library available on all of their devices.

How do you deal with parts of the world that do not have Internet?

Of the nearly 7 billion phone users in the world, 5.5 billion are in developing or emerging markets. Our platform is designed for low-bandwidth communities where mobile-phone network access is slow or intermittent. Whereas most apps today are designed assuming constant connectivity, we built our library to be browsable offline.

How did you come up with the idea to get this started?

In 2010, my husband and I moved to Haiti to help rebuild after the earthquake. There, I saw school after school with no books. Shipping books wasn't meeting the need, so I started investigating digital solutions but couldn't find a scalable one and knew we would have to build it. I joined forces with my cofounder Tanyella in 2012 and we've been building Library For All ever since.

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On a selfish note, how has AlleyNYC helped you in your quest?

The Alley has been incredibly supportive of us from day one. They gave us a great space to work and it's filled with great people doing cool things. They have helped us with everything from promotion, events, and Kickstarter advice during our campaign. They even got us a booth at Book Expo America this year.

What are your plans for the future and how can we get involved to help?

We want to reach 5 million kids by the end of 2017. We'll do this by scaling in Haiti but also through launching in other countries, such as Rwanda and the DRC soon. We're always looking for incredible developers, UX and graphic designers. We're crazy ambitious so we need funding contacts to foundations, and individuals passionate about books are always welcome. More info on our website.

You guys are known for throwing great parties and you are having a 1 year anniversary party, can you provide the details and registration info so readers can come hang out with your amazing crew and supporters?

Absolutely! The party is at the Maritime Hotel Rooftop on Friday, Aug 8th, 8pm. Heineken is sponsoring and Apple is matching donations, come join us!

It is not everyday that I am in a position to help companies with initiatives such as this. I feel that this has been the best part of running AlleyNYC and we will continue to support these ideas and businesses that will impact the world in a positive way. I love this stuff and I will continue to bring it you, meanwhile HUSTLE ON.

Related: Introducing QuickMVP, A New Tool for New Ideas
Wavy Line
Jason Saltzman

Startup Mentor, Entrepreneur, CEO of Alley

Jason Saltzman is a seasoned entrepreneur with a background in sales and marketing. Through his role as CEO of Alley and as a TechStars mentor, he advises hundreds of startups, offering real-life practical application and creative marketing advice.  

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