Firoz and Najma Lalji have made an initial gift of almost £1 million through their charitable foundation to help establish the Firoz and Najma Lalji supported Programme for African Leadership, at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). The initial £1million gift will help set up the programme’s infrastructure. Once it is established, the Laljis have agreed to make a second donation of £1.6million towards bursaries and final delivery. The generous gift to LSE will fully support the new Programme for African Leadership for a period of five years in the first instance.
Firoz Lalji graduated with a BSc in Economics from LSE in 1969 and he is also a member of the LSE's North American Advisory Board.
After meeting and marrying in their native Uganda, Mr and Mrs Lalji and their families were forced out of the country in 1972 when Dictator Idi Amin expelled many of its Asian citizens. The Laljis moved to Canada where Mr Lalji built up a successful chain of 225 camera stores in Canada and USA which was sold in 1997. He is now Owner and Chief Executive of Zones Inc., a national provider of IT products and solutions to businesses, based in Seattle, Washington state.
Firoz and Najma Lalji have already provided support of $1 million to endow a Master's scholarship at LSE, which targets students from Uganda. A third Lalji scholar is studying at LSE this year. The younger of the Laljis' two daughters, Natasha, followed her father's path by studying at LSE, graduating with a BSc in Social Policy and Administration in 2009.
'It is absolutely fitting that the programme should be established at LSE, whose alumni include many of those involved in the first wave of post- independence leadership, inspirational figures such as Jomo Kenyatta and Dr Kwame Nkrumah. We hope others will join us in supporting a venture which offers such an innovative approach to globalising African talent.'
'One of my teachers at LSE, Margaret Mead, told me and my classmates to "never doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." I have remained inspired by her words and it is bearing this in mind that Najma and I make our gift to LSE'.