The story of establishing the KGSA Foundation began through a chance meeting in a bar deep in the Kibera slums of Nairobi, Kenya. There, Ryan Sarafolean and a few friends who were studying in Kenya through the Minnesota Studies of International Development program, met Abdul Kassim. Over a beer, he told Ryan and others how he wanted to change the world, or at least the world around him and the inequalities that persisted for women. He told them about a soccer program that he had started as a way to get young girls off of the streets and into something productive. His dream was to create a free secondary school for girls as a way to promote self-awareness, empowerment, and equality. Ryan and friends emptied their pockets, raised several hundred dollars, and helped build the first-ever free secondary school for girls in Kibera, the Kibera Girls’ Soccer Academy.
Abdul inspired a sense of urgency and action within Ryan, who went back to the US, finished college, and decided to start a non-profit organization dedicated to building and harnessing the unique strength of women to lead their communities out of poverty, by supporting KGSA. Ryan moved back to Kenya for a year to work with Abdul and other community leaders on the logistics of an international partnership. In 2011, the KGSA Foundation was registered as an official 501(c)(3) nonprofit. Today, the KGSA Foundation has worked with high schools, universities, family foundations, corporations, and international aid organizations around the country and globe tirelessly advocating for KGSA and community-driven development.