Dalanzadgad: Interview with Investors

Our new learning center in Dalanzadgad, Mongolia could not exist without two financial investors: Robert Erdin, Andrea Pramor, Judy Gates and Elke and Dirk Reich invested 20,000 Euro in the learning center. We asked them for their motivation for investing in education in rural Mongolia.

Robert Erdin drove 15,000 kilometers to collect money for a new learning center
Robert Erdin drove 15,000 kilometers to collect money for a new learning center
Robert Erdin is 27 years old and from Switzerland. In 2013, he drove together with Andrea Pramor his car all the way from Zurich to Mongolia. On their way, they collected books and money for the learning center.

Robert, why did you invest in BOOKBRIDGE?
Last year, I participated in Mongol Rally, a car race whose goal is to drive from Europe to Mongolia. I was looking for an opportunity to support an NGO with Andrea in the context of our participation in the Mongol Rally. Because I have very specific beliefs on how NGOs should operate and we wanted to see the impact of our investment along the way to Mongolia we were lucky to find BOOKBRIDGE. I love the way BOOKBRIDGE acts as an enabler, rather than just building something with outside knowledge. The sharing of responsibilities between the European part of BOOKBRIDGE and the local learning centers and the know-how transfer from a lot of successful managers to the learning center staff within the capability program convinced me that the money is well invested.

Where is the money from you have invested?
The money comes from different sources. We built a website for our participation in the Mongol Rally and included the possibility to donate to BOOKBRIDGE. Further we collected some of it by convincing friends and family that BOOKBRIDGE is a great opportunity to make a change. Before we left for Mongolia we threw a party in Zurich where all the DJs played for free such that we were able to collect all entrance fees for our investment in BOOKBRIDGE. Finally, one of our sponsors, RacingFuel, gave us a lot of jute bags on which we printed our team logo and that we sold it at our party.

Dirk Reich (front row, third from the left) with the participants of the capability program who set-up the Dalanzadgad learning center
Dirk Reich (front row, third from the left) with the participants of the capability program who set-up the Dalanzadgad learning center
Dirk Reich is one of BOOKBRIDGE’s ambassadors and Managing Director of Cargolux. Dirk supports BOOKBRIDGE since its beginnings. In his former job as Executive Board Member of Kuehne + Nagel he has helped to ship thousands of books for free to our learning centers in Mongolia and Cambodia.

Dirk, why did you invest in BOOKBRIDGE?
I invested in the learning center as I believe in education as a key to a better life. I have been supporting BOOKBRIDGE since its beginnings and look forward to the opening of the learning center in Dalanzadgad.

Dirk, you have been supporting us for several years. Can you tell us about the beginnings of your commitment and how it developed?
It all started with Carsten asking for short-term sponsoring and organisation of the first train shipment to Ulan Bator after a planned sponsor ran away with extreme short notice. This developped over time into the ambassador role and supporting BOOKBRIDGE with logisitics and getting external capital. Carsten and the BOOBKRIDGE team are role models for passion and social entrepreneurship, that’s why I am always happy to be around the team and get a new infusion of the BOOKBRIDGE spirit.

What are your wishes for the new learning center?
I wish the learning center happy customers, happy staff and happy neighbours plus longterm financial success.

A frequent guest in Mongolia: Judy Gates
A frequent guest in Mongolia: Judy Gates
Judy Gates is one of the oldest BOOKBRIDGE supporters and among the most active. After a 3-years voluntary service in Mongolia, she remained connected to the country and its people and decided to invested in Dalanzadgad.

Judy, why did you decide to invest in the learning center?
I have lived in Mongolia for 3 years, 3 months and counting, first as a Peace Corps Volunteer and now I return each summer for about a month to visit friends and work on a few projects on my own. I met Carsten in Mongolia when he was getting ready to establish the Bookbridge Learning Center in Muron where I was living. I was impressed with the BOOKBRIDGE values from its focus on books and learning to its entrepreneurial approach to social problems to its sustainability model. By investing in Bookbridge I can continue to contribute to a country and a people I love.

What do you expect from the learning center in the next years?
I expect it to provide expanding opportunities for Mongolians of every age to grow in knowledge and understanding through offerings on a variety of subjects. Whether simply borrowing a book or taking the courses offered, or participating in the activities, I expect the Mongolians to benefit in ways that will lead them to richer lives in our global community.

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