"The Pearl Fund" - Saracens and England Lock Maro Itoje Launches African Education Programme - Ruck

“The Pearl Fund” – Saracens and England Lock Maro Itoje Launches African Education Programme

England lock Maro Itoje has today proudly launched The Pearl Fund: The Maro Itoje African Education Programme. The main goal of this fund is to generate investment within education, to benefit the lives of children in Nigeria and other African countries.

The programme aims to encourage multi-million pound investments into the cause, with the Saracens star’s club nickname being the inspiration behind ‘The Pearl’. The fund will reportedly first be used to support a cohort of 40 children, from one of the most deprived areas in Lagos, Nigeria.

Maro Itoje of England during the England Captains Run ahead of the Guinness Six Nations at Twickenham Stadium, Twickenham, London on Friday 3rd February 2023 | Photo: James Fearn/PPAUK.

A post on the Saracens club website, reports how the project has a focus on supporting orphans and fatherless children throughout their studies, and ensuring that they complete both primary and secondary education. Speaking to the Saracens website, Itoje discussed the importance of the Pearl Fund, and what it means to him.


“Nigeria is a country close to my heart. It’s where my family and I originate from, and I’ve spent a lot of time there over the years as my ties remain strong.3

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“I believe in the potential of the country and its people despite the many challenges they face. The Pearl Fund aims to unlock the boundless potential of Nigerian children, so that access to quality education will give them the opportunity to break the shackles of poverty and create a more prosperous and fulfilling future for themselves and their families.

“Being able to grow the impact of this work by also fundraising for World Vision UK’s work in Ghana is an incredible opportunity.”

You can donate to The Pearl Fund here.

Image Credit: The Pearl Fund and Saracens

The Pearl Fund will be working alongside Christian charity Stewardship, in organising the donations. The received funds will then be split, with 70% of donations going to Nigerian education charity CDLi, and 30% going to African education projects run by World Vision UK.

“I have had the pleasure of witnessing several charities in operation, and whilst they have a positive impact, the benefit is often only felt during that short period of time beneficiaries spend within the programmes.” Itoje added.

Maro Itoje of Saracens during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby Final Match between Leicester Tigers and Saracens at Twickenham Stadium on 18 June 2022. Photo: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK

“The Pearl Fund is looking to have a real impact on the lives of the children that it touches through quality education, where a long-term commitment is made to help them escape the cycle of poverty. This means children can fulfil their true potential and never limit their ambitions.

I look forward to working with CDLi and World Vision UK to support vulnerable children and their communities to create lasting change.”

Maro Itoje of the Saracens during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby Match between Bath Rugby and Saracens at the Recreation Ground on 17 Oct. Photo: Steve Haag/PPAUK

Mark Sheard, CEO of World Vision UK, says: “When children are denied an education the odds are already stacked against them. They are less likely to secure a quality job, their earning potential significantly decreases, and it prevents them from lifting themselves, their family, and the wider community out of poverty. They are also at greater risk from harmful practices such as child labour and early marriage.

Image Credit The Pearl Fund and Saracens

“World Vision are experts in giving children the tools they need to thrive and understands the essential role that education plays for them to succeed. We’re thrilled to have Maro’s support in fundraising for our education projects in Ghana and looking forward to seeing how he shapes his own work with The Pearl Fund in Nigeria.”