Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 7.44.07 PM.png

About the book

In 1998, Jacob Lief, a 21-year-old American university student, met school teacher Malizole “Banks” Gwaxula in a township tavern in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. After bonding over beers and a shared passion for education, Gwaxula invited Lief to live with him in the township. Inspired by their fortuitous meeting—which brought together two men separated by race, nationality, and age—and by the spirit of ubuntu, roughly translated as “I am because you are,” the two men embarked on an unexpectedly profound journey.

Their vision? To provide vulnerable children in township with what every child deserves—everything. .

Today, their organization, Ubuntu Pathways, is upending the conventional wisdom about how to break the cycle of poverty. Shunning traditional development models, Ubuntu redefined the concept of scale, focusing on how deeply it can impact each child’s life rather than how many it can reach. From pregnant mothers to students heading to university, Ubuntu provides everything each child needs and deserves, from cradle to career. Their child-centered approach reminds us that one’s birthplace should not determine one’s future.

I Am Because You Are offers an unflinching portrayal of the rewards and challenges of the nonprofit world while setting forth a bold vision for a new model of development.

Screen Shot 2015-02-20 at 9.14.22 PM.png



JACOB LIEF is the cofounder and CEO of Ubuntu Pathways. In 2010, he was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum, and in 2012, was selected as a member of the Clinton Global Initiative advisory board. He splits his time between Brooklyn, New York and, and Port Elizabeth South Africa.

ANDREA THOMPSON is an editor and author whose writing has appeared in The New Yorker, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the San Francisco Chronicle.

Jake Headshot.jpg
Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 11.59.50 AM.png


press quotes.jpg
Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 7.40.35 PM.png
ubuntu centre.jpg

Contact us

For all media inquiries, bulk orders, speaking requests, or any other questions, please use the form on the right.