Dr. Francis Umesiri, John Brown University’s assistant professor of chemistry, believes in the power of books. “One encounter with a good book has the potential to change your life,” said Umesiri.
That love for books inspired Umesiri to found Kharis Publishing, a one-year-old start-up that supports women, international and minority authors, while establishing learning resource centers in Africa.
“All of us can remember one book that inspired and changed us,” said Umesiri. “That change can be passed on and help make a difference in the world. That difference is empowering orphans to dream, learn and grow through books and computers.”
Kharis published 12 books, including those released this fall, with one dollar from each book sold going toward the provision of two learning resource centers filled with books, computers and interactive study tools for two orphanages in Ghana and Nigeria.
Instead of receiving an advance and a lower share of book sale profits, Kharis authors earn 40 percent of net sales, one of the highest royalty rates in publishing.
“These are people who are incredibly talented,” Umesiri said. “Giving them a chance to express themselves in print or to publish their book in a quality editorial format is empowering.”
Umesiri enlisted a team of JBU alumni, faculty and students, which includes Nichole Genheimer ’15, Makayla Schultz ’15, Cori Hunt ’15, Andrew Albright ’16, Rachel Musiime ’17, Noah Franz ’18 and Dr. Trisha Posey, director of honors scholars program and associate professor of history, to edit content, design covers and increase media coverage for the publishing house.
In April, Kharis partnered with JBU’s library and information technology services, as well as the Siloam Springs community, to collect 17 boxes of books and 13 computers that were distributed between the two orphanages.
The company has already impacted 700 orphans with the two resource centers and published 12 authors from 10 different countries.
“The idea of literacy empowerment has always resonated with me,” Umesiri said. “It is giving people the ability to grow and be who they want to be, which is very important.”
To buy a book or view other ways to help the organization, visit kharispublishing.com or their Indiegogo site igg.me/at/kp.
John Brown University is a leading private Christian university, training students to honor God and serve others since 1919. Ranked No. 2 among Southern regional colleges by U.S. News, JBU enrolls more than 2,700 students from 42 states and 39 countries in its traditional undergraduate, graduate, degree completion and concurrent education programs. JBU offers more than 50 majors, with top programs including business administration, graphic design, engineering, construction management, counseling, teacher education and nursing.