Firoz and Najma Lalji 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 (PfAL) at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). The initial £1 million gift helped set up the programme’s infrastructure. Once it was established, the Laljis agreed to make a second donation of £1.6 million towards bursaries and final delivery. The Laljis have since given substantial gifts to fund the programme and 30 full Lalji LSE PfAL Masters scholarships for students from Africa.
Firoz Lalji graduated with a BSc in Economics from LSE in 1969. He is Chairman of the PfAL Foundation and is also a member of 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. From 1998 to 2013, Firoz was Chief Executive of Zones Inc,, a Seattle-based national provider of IT products and solutions to businesses, which he co-founded in 1988. He now serves as Chairman of the Zones Inc. Board.
In addition to the PfAL scholarships, Firoz and Najma Lalji have already provided over $1 million to endow a Master's scholarship at LSE, which targets students from Uganda. A fourth 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'. - Firoz Lalji