The YO’ Books was established in 2010 by Mr. Yohanis Riek, who arrived in Juba, South Sudan, in February 2010 at the age of twenty four to study at a medical school in the University of Juba. Despite a limited high school education as a result of civil wars, he became a passionate reader, buying a book a week.
Mr. Yohanis Riek, having nowhere to access books himself, then conceptualized the idea of having a bookstore where people with the same problem will have access to books. He then raised and invested private funds into the initiative, ensuring that it would be more than a place for people with means to buy books but also a place for low income people to feel welcome.
Yohanis started selling textbooks and novels to students from his university dormitory’s bed to earn some money for a living and to pay tuition fee. In April 2012, he joined Awak Bior to establish South Sudan’s first bookstore called Leaves Bookshop becoming the General Manager.
Soon Leaves’, as it was affectionately known by many people in town, became a literary gathering place. The booths, and especially the round table and stools were filled with students, faculty, and townspeople often engaged in spirited discussions about books and current events.
He began this new adventure with 300 titles purchased from Penguin, Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, Pearson Education and Oxford University Press. But it did not stop there. In July 2016, CINOP Global asked Yohanis to establish a library for their training center in Juba located at the Multi-purpose Training Center. This provided opportunity to scale up and establishing a full-fledge bookstore company.
Since opening our doors in 2010 in Juba Town, we have been able to offer our customers an alternative to the ordinary. We carry an extensive inventory of new and nearly new books from classic literature to current bestsellers. Our staff is knowledgeable and friendly and able to help you choose the perfect book for you or your family.
Yohanis decided to upgrade the bookshop as a company so that it could carry on more business role of importing and supplying institutions with books and this lead to re adoption of the old name—YO’ Books as a pioneering social enterprise — a business with a mission to promote literacy.
In March 2017, the business was finally incorporated as YO’ Books Limited with 1000 Shares (Incorporation No. 27695, 2017) and won a contract from the CINOP GLobal to provide books for all courses at the Multi-purpose training center. From 2017 onward, YO’ Books became known throughout Juba and South Sudan as a unique place to look for books.
In addition, many of the YO’ Books’ events are planned in conjunction with University faculties, student organizations, and departments. We have also kept up with the growth of book E-books, with the development of a full service website, www.yobooks-ss.com, offering customers the opportunity to order books 24 hours a day.
We believe that many customers need to look at, touch and feel a book before they buy, so being a ‘clicks and mortar’ store can afford them the best of both worlds. We have also lived up to our goal of bringing readers and writers together, with a literary event schedule including more than 12 events a year for adults, youth and children, and attended by hundreds of people annually.
In 2017, we initiated the Signed First Edition Club. Each month, club members receive a signed First Edition of a newly published book selected by the YO’ Books for its literary merit and potential collectability. The club now boasts over 100 members.
The YO’ Books is proud of its history and its continuing role in South Sudan’s community life. This year we are celebrating our 5th anniversary and expect to celebrate many more in the years to come.
The year 2017 was an extra achievement for us, YO’ Books received an Award from the South Sudan NGO Forum in recognition of our outstanding work in the category of most innovative empowering Youth Initiative at the 2017 NNGOs and citizen exposition.
YO’ Books Limited believes that a literate and better informed population can speed up South Sudan’s chances of development and recovery from decades of war, as well as from sliding back into instability. YO’ Books Limited also seeks to be a source of inspiration for self-motivated learning.
In addition to selling new titles, YO’ Books supports book drives and collects used books and textbooks through a network of 5 university campuses and partnerships with over 10 NGOs and schools nationwide.
So far, the company has converted more than 10000 books into over $30 thousands in funding for literacy and education. In the process, we’ve also diverted more than 250 books from landfills and dustbins in Juba.