More than 1bn people are denied access to quality education which is crucial for long-term improvement in quality of life. Quality education is key to employment, sustainable income levels, personal development and participation in the community.
To date, approaches to foster education in rural areas of emerging economies have failed to be effective and sustainable in the long term. Existing initiatives are often contemplated as isolated interventions, lacking to collaborate with other stakeholders across sectors.
The public sector runs schools or vocational trainings that are community-based, but they often provide low quality education and are financially not sustained. The private sector sets up some for-profit schools mainly in urban areas, thus they are limited in reach, lack quality, do not integrate the community and primarily aim for profit. On the other hand, local initiatives and international NGO’s focus on social goals, however they usually are dependent on donations, limited in reach and lack an effective follow-up. By focusing on number of schools or libraries opened, number of teaching material shipped or number of teachers trained, they often don’t take into account how the inputs are being used and converted within the local systems. Furthermore, development interventions during the last decades have created an attitude of expectation for help in Mongolia, Cambodia and Sri Lanka rather than empowering local communities to develop their own future.
Experience from the past decades shows, that many resources and efforts have been misspent due to lack of understanding of local needs and lack of collaboration of key stakeholders. By combining existing resources, facilitating collaboration across sectors, introducing an entrepreneurial approach and empowering local people BOOKBRIDGE is able to break existing silos and create a new integrative educational landscape.
BOOKBRIDGE pioneers in linking quality education and community building in rural areas of the Global South with a sound business model, ensuring financial self-reliance in the long term. We improve job opportunities, income level and the economic development of the communities in which we engage.
In a highly participatory process, BOOKBRIDGE sets up financially sustainable learning centers in remote areas, which provide space, material and courses based on the local needs. The concept behind BOOKBRIDGE Learning Centers is based on the key learnings from existing providers across sectors.
The key to success lies in collaborating with all stakeholders and combining their strengths. In order to build long-term self-sustainable solutions, they need to be community-based, financially self-sustained and focused on the social impact. Focusing on these three key factors, BOOKBRIDGE developed a five-step process for setting up the learning centers. At any point of this process, BOOKBRIDGE is using and connecting existing resources in a new and intelligent way, creating a win-win situation for all actors involved and establishing strong local ownership.
We start with the Community Hero as key change maker in the target community. In the Capability Program, we bring together key talents from the community with the next generation of leaders from Europe. We turn them into entrepreneurs by challenging them to setup a community-based learning center as a worthwhile tangible business. We make them reflect on their lessons learnt.
The learning centers enrich the job and life chances of all members of rural communities in Asia. They offer courses taught by local for locals according to the local need. In mentoring sessions, students gain self-confidence and start taking ownerships of their own lives. In addition, they act as a central meeting point for the community as well as a platform for worthwhile projects in the community. The learning centers are financially sustained.
In order to be financially autonomous in the long-term, the learning centers are set up as social enterprises. The social enterprise model, aiming to reach breakeven within a year, is developed by local talents in collaboration with candidates from Europe. In the Capability Program, they turn into entrepreneurs and face the challenge to setup a learning center as a worthwhile tangible business from scratch.
Seed funding to set up the Learning Center is provided as a interest-free loan by three parties: BOOKBRIDGE, the local government and a local investor, who is recruited by the Head of Learning Center. The main source of revenue of the center is fee-based courses offered in addition to its free services (library, learning activities for children, some free language courses), which only require a marginal membership fee.
The implementation of the business model and the actual setup of the Learning Center are led by the local entrepreneur and accompanied by the peers of the Capability Program on site. During the first two years of operation the quality of the services is closely monitored and improved by trainings and mentorship for teachers. Furthermore, the basic curriculum (English courses, courses on career development) is expanded according to the local demand, e.g. offering courses on rice growing and local business development. The underlying principle is to build on knowledge and skills of community members, thus trainings are conducted with a peer-to-peer approach, fostering on empowerment of local staff.
After two years the learning centers are run by the local stakeholders autonomously, however they actively participate in the BOOKBRIDGE network. Having constantly improved and optimized all steps of this procedure based on his learnings during the past three years, BOOKBRIDGE offers a standardized and well-recorded process, which allows efficient replication. Most remarkably, and unlike other interventions, the replication in different environments does not carry the risk of loosing the grass-root approach, since the integration of existing solutions, the participation of key stakeholders and the ownership by the local community are inherent to the design of the process.
Our Family of BridgeBuilders connects the next generation of leaders in Europe and rural Asia. Jointly, they develop and implement new initiatives and worthwhile tangible businesses. BOOKBRIDGE and its programs serve as a platform for them to do what they really are.
Why should we talk about impact? Very simple. Because impact is our right to exist. We started BOOKBRIDGE because we believe that we can help people in making a choice on what they do in their lives. Hence, we need to make ourselves aware on whether we contribute to this ambitious goal with the work we are doing on a day-to-day basis.
What is impact in education? Difficult question. We believe our learning centers do have impact. Currently, we are telling stories around what we believe is our impact. We are proudly talking about Altaa, a student at Uuganaa‘s learning center in Arvaikheer, Mongolia, who had the chance as the first one in her family to study and become a teacher. We are proudly telling the story of Vannak in Tonloab, Cambodia who gave up his job as teacher to run his learning center as a social entrepreneur, reaching out to more than 50,000 community members in 2015. And we are talking about the alumni of our Capability Program who start worthwhile and tangible initiatives within their organizations in Europe, thereby prototyping the future of business.
In 2014, we started a discussion with our learning centers on where they see themselves in five years from now. Based on these results, the BOOKBRIDGE Team developed a LOGIC Model on how we aim at creating impact:
But how to assess this impact? Here it becomes even more difficult. Not because we don´t believe that education has impact. But that it it hard to track down due to two simple reasons. First, impact in education is a long-term endeavor. If you start learning English now, you may earn the fruits only in a couple of years from now. Second, education happens anywhere anytime. Each human being is educated day in day out by a multitude of people – parents, teachers, colleagues and even advertisement. It is very difficult to say who has caused what effect.
How to make a start? I still remember when we started our first learning center in Arvaikheer, Mongolia. In October 2009, I met with a leading researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, Germany. My question was on how to lay the foundations so that we can talk about impact in 5 years. The answer was depressing for me at that time. I was proposed to conduct a large-scale survey comparing the level of English language skills of students in Arvaikheer with a community which does not have a learning center. Funds needed for this amount hundreds of thousands of EUR. And the result? Would this help our learning centers to develop themselves further? I was not sure at that time.
Five years later, we learnt a lot of lessons and decided to pilot a different approach. Instead of producing huge piles of data, we aim at creating an environment in which impact becomes part of the daily discussion. Instead of distributing questionnaires in a top-down approach, we start with our Community Heroes as key change maker in their community. We engage them in a regular discussion with your community member as well as fellow Community Heroes on the impact which you create.
Sounds promising. But how do you do it exactly? Twice a year, our Community Heroes meet with your most important target groups in their learning center and make them reflect on the impact they feel the Community Hero has created on them, their lives and the community you all live in. The results of these meetings are shared and discussed with the other fellow Community Heroes during the bi-yearly staff trainings. This allows our Community Heroes to learn from each other and identify best practices for your learning center.
At a global level, we compare the impact of our Community Heroes across the countries they live in. We share these results openly with you and discuss them with our Family of Bridgebuilders at the bi-yearly BOOKBRIDGE Summit. We are convinced that an open and regular sharing of our impact brings us closer towards our mission to empower you to do what you really are. We are looking forward to this learning journey together with you.
Enough theory. Let’s get our hands dirty and look at the results of our first impact assessment workshops. In the following chapters, we share the results of 3 pilot learning centers which participated in the very first pilot workshops held with members of their respective communities. For our pilot, we chose parents, children, young adults and learning center staff members as key target groups. We publish the results as we got them. They serve as a basis for our workshop on impact assessment at the BOOKBRIDGE Summit in March 2016.
Step #1: Community members draw a picture of their community Community members are grouped by target group around separate tables. As a first exercise, they draw a picture of their community on a big piece of paper (A0, flipchart size). All participants from one stakeholder group draw one big joint picture on the community they live in.
Pictures drawn by parents
The following pictures were drawn by 8 parents in Dalanzadgad, Mongolia, 8 parents in Tonloab, Cambodia and 5 parents in Takeo Town, Cambodia.
Pictures drawn by children and young adults
The following pictures were drawn by 8 children and young adults in Dalanzadgad, Mongolia, 14 children and young adults in Tonloab, Cambodia and 11 children and young adults in Takeo Town, Cambodia.
Pictures drawn by learning center staff members
The following pictures were drawn by 2 staff members in Dalanzadgad, Mongolia, 8 staff members in Tonloab, Cambodia and 6 staff members in Takeo Town, Cambodia.
Step #2: Most important impact types discussed As a second exercise, Community Heroes invited the participants to think about the impact your learning center has had on them personally as well as on the community. The discussion was kicked off with the following three questions:
1. What has changed in your life due to the learning center activities?
2. Give an example of a positive impact of the learning center in our community.
3. Give an example of negative impact of the learning center in our community.
Community Members reflected upon these three questions first individually and then in their respective stakeholder groups. Each stakeholder group presented their key results. The Community Hero noted down the 5 most important impact types from the discussion. They serve as a basis of a discussion on how to strengthen the impact of the learning center in the community.
This is the good and right place to study English in this town.
This place gives children and community to educate themselves in a positive way.
Both students and parents can attend free activities and stay for reading in their free time.
Learning center makes them happy and makes new friends to them.
The learning center and foreign volunteers help local people to know more about external world it means other countries culture and tradition as global.
English skills of students have improved a lot
English teachers at the LC have become far more confident in their teaching
Parents have more interest to send their children to the LC to learn English
Students have better self confidence
More organisations are working in partnership with the LC
Comments by Community Hero Battuul:
“We are really happy to open new world for children and community people. It is very nice to see that our customers are feeling good when they are staying here. The most of them come every day and having fun except learning many things. It is nice to see their good results and changes by learning English. Our volunteers help us a lot in here. We can share our knowledge and make friends by this place. “
Students have chance to use and study with modern teaching materials
We have the guideline to prevent’ the children securities
We try to use more modern teaching materials to support learning and teaching
The learning center will give the students’ chances to contact or communicate to the world
All students from poor and rich family can study at BOOKBRIDGE Learning Center Tonloab
Comments by Community Hero Vannak:
The learning center has the fellows and good teachers. The learning center has the scholarship program. The learning center has reduced the rooms for Tonloab primary school’ teachers. Students’ security need to be safe while leaving the learning center at night. BOOKBRIDGE is a part of Ministry of education that help students at rural areas get to know quality English and Computer.
Takeo Town, Cambodia
Knowledge, skills and (financial) benefits
Pride and trust
Policy and incentives
Comments by Community Heroes Sreydieb and Sopheak
The impact types are identified based on the summary of answers from different stakeholder groups. The heading given to each impact types are based on the outcome of the summary of the answers. So actual impact type might have been different if different people identified them
These are the results of our pilot workshops so far. Not bad, right? We will discuss the results at a workshop at the Summit and think about how to continue.
How did our Community Heroes like the pilot workshops? We asked them about their satisfaction in the survey and this is what they answered.
What can we learn from this pilot? Our Community Heroes also gave us a lot of advice on how to continue after the pilot:
It would be good to have some options of tools and methods to be used for the workshop.
The tools and methods used are considerably good, but mapping the community looks difficult for the participant and they don’t really understand it.
It is the best way to get enough information from students, parents and teachers.
I did not conduct the pilot impact assessment by myself, but Country Manager did it and I observed and noted down how he conducted it with the participants. I prepared materials and logistics needed for conducting the pilot impact assessment as well as invited people to join it.Guideline is complicated, but it is not easy to follow. I did not really understand what I should do, but I found it not that complicated when I saw what CM did during the implementation of pilot impact assessment. I would be helpful to make it more simple and easier to implement since we did not have much time to do it.Drawing maps of the community is also good, but it does not really give much info to know about what impact we create if compare to questions to the stakeholder group member about positive and negative impacts.Questions used for the second exercise should be more specific (it sounds too vague for me).
Yes I have. During the workshop we talked about many good results and impacts of learning center. They can talk and write about results but it was not easy to draw the picture its changes. So they tried to do the main results and impacts of the learning center. The next time it would be better than this.
People are busy so survey was the best method. I have meet 14 people to have a panel discussion. 13 people were questioned according to survey. Next time Bookbridge send us certain survey template.
How much time did it take them to prepare, conduct and evaluate the pilot? On average, Community Heroes spent 19 hours preparing the pilot (min 3 hours and max 32 hours), 18 hours to conduct it (min 1 hour and max 50 hours) as well as 10 hours to assess the results (min 1 hour and 35 hours max).
Starting off a scout exchange program with Mongolia, BOOKBRIDGE has developed into an impactful and purpose-driven social enterprise. We are proud of our continuously growing Family of Bridge Builders around the world.
Our mission is to empower people to do what they really are. We link the setup of community- based learning centers in the Global South with the development of the next generation of leaders in our Capability Program with the Global North.
Since 2009, BOOKBRIDGE has setup 16 learning centers in rural communities of Mongolia and Cambodia. We reached out to 106,000 community members in 2014. 104 talents from 21 client organizations have benefitted from our Capability Program.
Our theory of change has developed a lot in the last 5 years. Starting with our Community Heroes, we asked ourselves where we see BOOKBRIDGE by 2020. In a highly collaborative process, we crafted this document as a basis for discussion during the 2016 Summit.
Our goal is to serve as a platform for the next generation of leaders in Europe and Asia to do what they really are. We are a family of self-confident responsible citizens who actively shape their own future. We create impact by making people think and act as entrepreneurs, broadening their horizons and putting themselves into the shoes of others.
In reaching this goal, we specifically focus on
complementing our current English and IT offerings at the learning centers with educational services close to the daily lives of the rural community members which we impact
developing a quality framework for courses and activities offered at the learning center
ensuring that the scope of the Capability Program is constantly widened to build business and leadership skills in our target communities in the Global South as well
By 2020, we are an engaged Family of Bridgebuilders active in 5 countries with 43 learning centers, thereby having trained 784 professionals in the Capability Program, enriching the life chances of 400,000 community members with quality education.
BOOKBRIDGE FOUNDATION is our mother organization. It is registered as a tax-exempted not-for-profit legal entity in Basel, Switzerland. The foundation invests into our Community Heroes via the Social Business Fund. It is governed by our Board Members. All board members work on a voluntary basis.
The Capability Program is offered by BOOKBRIDGE GmbH, a tax-paying for-profit entity registered in Neumarkt, Germany. BOOKBRIDGE GmbH is full owned by BOOKBRIDGE FOUNDATION. All paid staff members are employed by BOOKBRIDGE GmbH. All profits of BOOKBRIDGE GmbH benefit our Community Heroes.
Our Country Organizations are registered as separate legal entities in their respective countries. In the start-up phase of a new country, we mainly work through the National Scout Organization. We sign MoUs with the government to ensure their support of our community-based learning centers.
Our learning centers are registered as separate legal entities in their respective communities. Each Community Hero decides together with the Capability Program Team on the best legal setup for the operations of the learning center. They may be registered as a government entity, NGO or under a business license.
Our network of partners have relationships with BOOKBRIDGE FOUNDATION, BOOKBRIDGE GmbH, the respective Country Organization or an individual learning center. See our network page for more information on whom we are proud of in collaborating.
Income BOOKBRIDGE Foundation
In 2014, we raised EUR 185t for our Social Busines Fund to invest in our learning centers in Asia. From 2014, BOOKBRIDGE FOUNDATION invests soft loans into learning centers only. All staff costs in Asia are covered by services which our Country Organizations deliver in the Capability Program to BOOKBRIDGE GmbH. Remaining administrative expenses are covered by dividends paid by BOOKBRIDGE GmbH.
The financial statements for 2015 are provisional.
H1 – 2015
Expenses BOOKBRIDGE Foundation
H1 – 2015
Staff costs in Asia
Learning centers in Mongolia
Learning centers in Cambodia
Country support from Europe
Book Champion Program
Marketing, PR & Fundraising
Income BOOKBRIDGE GmbH
In 2014, BOOKBRIDGE GmbH reported a profit of EUR 7,980 in the first time of its history. The positive trend continued in 2015 with EUR 576,000 in program bookings acquired by June 30, 2015. The previous losses of the GmbH up to 31.12.2014 amount to 300,754 EUR and are covered by loans from seven investors, among them KfW Mittelstandsbank.
H1 – 2015
*Bookings vs Sales: Bookings describe the total value of contracts signed by clients for participation in the Capability Program. Sales describe bookings distributed by financial year in which the service was delievered.
The financial statements for 2015 are provisional.