Lerner MBA Student Saviour Anyagri Establishes Organization to Provide Schooling for Students in Native Ghana

Saviour Anyagri plays soccer with Ghanaian children enrolled in his organization.

For Saviour Anyargi, earning his MBA in business analytics this spring from the University of Delaware was one more accomplishment in his quest to provide equitable educational opportunities for children across the globe or in his homeland.

Growing up in the rural community of Yabrago in Garu, Upper East Ghana, Anyagri and his three older brothers learned the value of education from his parents, Nicholas and Vida, at an early age.

When he was 5 years old, the school Anyagri’s father wanted him to attend was located far from the family’s home. So Nicholas would wake his youngest son at 5:30 a.m. and together they’d make the hourlong trek by bike to the school. Nicholas, a farmer, would then pedal home, work on the farm, and head back to pick up Anyagri at the end of the day.

“There wasn’t infrastructure or resources allocated to people in communities like where I was from, so if you wanted to go to school, either your parents could take you, or you had to wait until you were old enough to walk the distance,” said Anyagri.

A year later, Anyagri’s parents made the decision to send him away to live with a family that lived closer to the school so that he could walk. It was at that point that Anyagri began playing soccer and at age 11 became good enough to represent his region, eventually earning a scholarship to an academy that was a day’s trip from his family’s home.

His performance at the academy enabled him to earn a scholarship to attend The Hotchkiss School, a prestigious prep school in Salisbury, Connecticut, at age 15.

It was there that Anyagri met Seidu Shamsudeen, a fellow Ghanaian who grew up in Bolgatanga in the country’s northern region and had a similar level of access to education as Anyagri. The two had played for rival soccer clubs in Ghana and knew each other tangentially but didn’t connect until both joined The Hotchkiss School.

In 2016, though both were just high school sophomores, an idea was born.

“When we got to Connecticut, we were a little behind in terms of how we wrote and how we interpreted English,” Anyagri said. “We could speak it relatively well in Ghana, but getting here is a whole different level. We knew if we’d had the opportunity or access to educational curriculum back in Ghana, we would’ve had a better chance of picking things up more easily. So, because we’ve always had the idea of giving back, we thought about what we could do for the people back home. We wanted something that could be sustainable.”

The plans were put on hold in 2018, when the pair graduated high school and went their separate ways to begin their college careers, both academically and on the soccer pitch – Anyagri at Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina and Shamsudeen at nearby Villanova University.

After two years at Wofford, Anyagri transferred to UD and started all five games for the Blue Hen soccer team during the 2021 spring season. Meanwhile Shamsudeen joined the program for the 2022 fall campaign after earning his undergraduate degree from Villanova.

The two became teammates again during that 2022 season, with Shamsudeen scoring three goals for the Blue Hens while starting all but one match and Anyagri making 13 appearances in a reserve role.

Meanwhile, from 2016 to 2020 both Anyagri and Shamsudeen would return to Ghana during their breaks from college, and host soccer tournaments where they’d talk to local children. It was during those encounters that Anyagri realized the students’ education was lacking, or nonexistent.

“By 2021, I said to myself, ‘OK, kids are getting to play soccer, but what am I really doing for them?’ I had to dig deeper and start thinking more. I realized that there was a major problem; a lot of kids weren’t going to school to start with. That’s when I started to realize even more why my parents had to make some sacrifices for me,” Anyagri said.

Another issue, according to Anyagri, was that soccer tournaments were only occurring when he and Shamsudeen were home visiting.

The pair decided to really begin to make their idea of combining soccer and education into a reality in 2022, although they quickly realized there were many facets of running a business they’d need help with.

“There were so many things we’d have to figure out,” Anyagri said. “Like funding, who can be on the ground to work, who in our network can help us, what we want it to look like.

“We started defining our mission, our goals, the values we want to bring, and then started piling up all these ideas.”

Anyagri and Shamsudeen then took those ideas to the parents in the community of Yabrago, and through those conversations started making concrete decisions.

“From those conversations, we realized that instead of taking the kids to school, we’d bring the school to the kids,” Anyagri said. “So we actually made the firm decision that this is what we want to do.”

“Bringing school to the kids brings a lot of benefits,” Shamsudeen added. “We didn’t know how big we could make it; we just knew that we had to start something and get going.”

Utilizing a plot of land in northern Ghana donated by Anyagri’s family and using a small amount of money out of their pockets plus donations from friends, they began by erecting a small tent, which became the school’s home.

In March 2023, the school, Saviour Organization, officially opened.

“When we started off, we hired a teacher, and the kids started coming, and then the more word got out, the more kids were coming,” Anyagri said. “We got up to 50 kids, and then we couldn’t register any more at the time. We needed to complete the structure, separate the class into two and then get another teacher. That’s when we started expanding and getting more donors.”

Currently the average age of the students is 5-6, learning at the kindergarten and grades 1-2 levels, with roughly 53 students and two teachers. The organization’s website also includes a president, vice president, secretary, advisor, public relations manager and social media manager.

“Right now, we’re in a good, healthy place,” Anyagri said. “We have an operational budget that can carry us on for the following year. So now we’re just thinking about ways to effectively expand.”

After the school opened, Anyagri also benefited from working in 2023 with the Summer Founders Program run by UD’s Horn Entrepreneurship, a 12-week program designed for students with early-stage startups to work on their ventures and receive a stipend, mentorship and education sessions.

“Summer Founders was a wonderful experience, I’d never really captured how to tell our story in a more professional sense, but Summer Founders helped us redefine the way we delivered our story. It taught us to provide statistical evidence to show this is what I have, this is what I’ve been able to do, this is what I want to do, this is what it would take to do. So Summer Founders did expose us to that kind of thinking,” said Anyagri, who earned his undergraduate degree in 2022 in human relations and administration.

During their last visit to Ghana, elders of the community gave Anyagri and Shamsudeen five plots of land to expand. So if they can build enough capital, they already have the land in place to build the infrastructure. Additionally, the children’s parents started bringing food to the school for lunches to help alleviate the organization’s costs.

“Sooner or later we’d like to start going to a different community, talk to them, build a school … go to the next community, build a school … and in the long run, we want these schools to have their own activities. And then possibly look for opportunities for some kids to experience what we did outside the country or experience a future they would not have imagined,” Anyagri said.

“We have other visions, in terms of sports, but right now the focus is just building this (educational system), making it stronger and going to the next community. Because there are so many communities that are facing the same problem.”

Anyagri, who bought 30 soccer balls to give to local teams during his last visit, wants to hold regular tournaments to bring the communities together. He hopes to be in a position where he can host monthly or quarterly tournaments in different parts of the country, separate from the schools.

“We’ll always defer to soccer because the kids in the communities love it so much,” Shamsudeen said. “So hopefully when we are in a healthy financial situation, we can allocate resources to organizing tournaments that bring the communities together.”

Shamsudeen, who is expected to earn his master’s degree in public policy and administration from UD this summer, also has a longer-term goal for the organization.

“Because we have (the children) so young, we’re hoping by the end of their transition they have achieved their educational goals, and they can come back to the community and be ambassadors and role models. So that’s the ultimate goal,” he said.

“To me it’s exciting, not because we are the ones doing it, but that we can see the kids being happy,” Anyagri added. “That’s the most important thing, and for me, the exciting part.

“We want everybody to experience what we experienced. And also to know that it doesn’t matter where you are, you can achieve something that can change your life.”

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