Embedded within southeastern Africa, Malawi is a developing nation that borders Zambia, Mozambique and Tanzania. As a country that is already lacking resources and electricity, it should come as no surprise to know that schools are also a rarity in the nation’s public infrastructure.

During a famine in 2002, three-quarters of the population of Malawi (over seven million people) were on the brink of starvation. Such difficult times affected many, a prime example being a boy named William Kamkwamba who was living in Malawi with an impoverished family of nine, knowing full well that school was not a viable option for him at the time. He was merely 14, however, when he traveled to a nearby library, which changed everything.

Motivated by his curiosity, William dove into a book on energy and articulated a plan to build a windmill to power his home—and surprisingly, he was successful in doing so. Currently, William is 22 years old and is working to not only refine his own windmill model, but to build more of them to power other communities.

On the other side of the world, a Cornell University student named Andrew Grauer founded the company Course Hero in 2008. Andrew’s purpose was to allow greater access to educational resources in an affordable and universal manner. He was able to compile a substantial amount of academic resources and promoted the website at various universities.

Course Hero eventually went on to expand throughout campus communities across America and has now become one of the leading online learning platforms. Some key investors in Course Hero include the founders of YouTube, StubHub, Google AdSense as well as some of the earlier investors of Twitter, Foursquare and PayPal.

In November 2010, Course Hero partnered with Books for Africa to establish The Knowledge Drive and invest in the future of Africa’s youth.

As a result, Course Hero decided to donate one book to Books for Africa for every 10 academic documents that are uploaded to the website. With the help of the academic community across the globe, they have been able to donate over 100,000 books—and are continuing to do so.

Access to education is a human right though millions of people across the globe are still left out. Although there are many people working to make an educated world a possibility, there is still much to accomplish.

Course Hero is an exceptional example of what is possible when the values of universal and affordable education are spread. After all, a book is much more than it seems to be—it allows for the power to positively influence communities as in William Kamkwamba’s case, which is something that the nation of Malawi and Africa needs altogether.

Jugal Patel

Sources: Moving Windmills, Course Hero Knowledge Drive, BBC
Photo: Foctha