Standard Bank giving exceeds £1million as it seeks to empower new generation of African leaders

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With its latest gift establishing the Standard Bank Africa, Derek Cooper Scholarships, Standard Bank become one of the latest donors to be listed on LSE’s Benefactors’ Board. The Board, situated in the front lobby of the Old Building, recognises those who have provided transformational gifts to LSE, and whose level of generosity defines the tradition of philanthropy at the School.

Worth over £500,000, the scholarships will annually support three master’s students from the 20 African geographies in which Standard Bank has a presence. This includes students from South Africa, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Angola, Mozambique, and South Sudan over five years, starting in 2016/17. The gift is named in honour of the Bank’s 150 year anniversary and the legacy of its Scholarship Patron, former Chairman Derek Cooper. 

With this latest gift, total giving from Standard Bank to LSE has exceeded £1million. This continues the Bank’s commitment to widening participation at the School among the countries in which it operates, having supported a total of 17 MSc students from 2011 to 2013 through the Standard Bank Scholarships. The company has also supported bursaries for students attending the July School in Cape Town over the last three years. 

“It is clear that Africa has a critical role to play in shaping the 21st Century,” Derek Cooper said. “Increasingly, Africa is interacting with the rest of the world is on its own terms. Through this commitment, Standard Bank aims to champion those African leaders who will actively build a future for Africa, led by Africans.”The Scholarship will see three students a year, each specialising in their unique areas of expertise, complete a master’s qualification at LSE. These individuals will represent the best and brightest Africa has to offer, fully-funded and backed by Standard Bank as part of a growing commitment to enable and empower effective leaders in Africa.

Many students have expressed their gratitude to Standard Bank, both for scholarship support and July School bursaries. Omolade Adebisi studied an MSc in Finance, with the aim of applying the knowledge in his home country of Nigeria. “This opportunity motivated me to study hard for a meaningful education and find ways to cultivate economic development and influence education for the less abled in my motherland. As a result of this, I am now an active member of the Nigerian Young Professionals Forum, an organisation which encourages young Nigerians abroad to influence economic development back home.” He added: “By awarding me a scholarship, Standard Bank gave me a high degree of financial security, allowing me to focus more on the most important aspect of my time at university – learning.” 

Lesego Serolong, an orphan raised in rural South Africa, graduated with an MSc in Social Policy and Development last year. She is now set to launch an agriculture and entrepreneurship innovation hub in her home country, having previously run a social enterprise start-up that focused on reducing poverty and unemployment in rural areas. 

“I am using my experience and learning at LSE to implement a comprehensive development plan, improve the quality of education, and create sustainable solutions to poverty,” she said. “LSE and Standard Bank have more than prepared me for this, equipping me to contribute towards the development of this region and empowering its youth through agriculture and entrepreneurship. I would like to thank Standard Bank for giving me this opportunity and making what was once a dream a reality – I feel blessed to be doing something I'm deeply passionate about.”

Beyond philanthropy, Standard Bank’s links to LSE include alumni in senior roles: non-executive director Atedo Peterside (MSc Economics 1977) and Standard Bank Malawi Chairman Dr Rex Harrawa (MSc Economics 1983) both studied at the School.