Alicia English

The Olive Exchange

What does your company do?

The Olive Exchange is a publishing company that provides affordable children's books and professional self-publishing services. We believe in the transformative power of storytelling to ignite a love for reading and improve literacy levels among South African children. In a country where the challenge with reading comprehension persists, our purpose is clear: to inspire young minds and foster a lifelong passion for reading through engaging children's books. Research shows that 81% of South African learners in Grade 4 cannot read for meaning, and 56% of learners in Grade 6 do not understand what they read either. At The Olive Exchange, we're on a mission to change that narrative. Our carefully curated collection of affordable children's books is designed to support educators, librarians and parents in their efforts to improve literacy outcomes for children across the country. Our ambition is to become a leading publisher of affordable children's books to schools, libraries and bookstores, and a top provider of professional self-publishing services to independent authors.

What is your biggest success?

Publishing 4 children's books, and 2 independent author titles in 3 years, while grieving the loss of my husband due to Covid in 2021, and raising three boys on my own, studying and caring for my 72-year-old dad after he had a stroke in 2023.

What has been your biggest hurdle?

Juggling my responsibilities as a mompreneur, and trying to maintain a steady cashflow.