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  1. Wealth
February 9, 2022

Spear’s Wealth Management Awards Winner Interview: Lord Verjee, the Rumi Foundation

By Rasika Sittamparam

After winning the 2021 Spear’s Wealth Management Award for Philanthropist of the Year, Lord Verjee of the Rumi Foundation discusses the importance of giving back

‘Giving back really nourishes the soul,’ says Lord Verjee, the entrepreneur and Liberal Democrat peer who was recognised for his contributions to society via the Rumi Foundation. ‘I’m an immigrant to this country and I came with very little except for a good education. And I always believe that you first have to look after yourself, [then] look after your family, you look after your community and then hopefully you give back to your country, and if you’re lucky, you can give back to the planet. So that is the ethos of our family foundation.’

The Ugandan-born Lord Verjee made his name by bringing Domino’s Pizza to the UK. This, and entrepreneurial activities, helped to grow his net worth to around £165 million, by some estimates. He has donated around £35 million towards philanthropic projects.

The Rumi Foundation aims to identify and nurture the talents of young people, particularly among minority and underprivileged communities. ‘What keeps me awake at night is the huge inequality in the world,’ he says. ‘Every time we have a crisis, a financial crisis – and now the pandemic – inequality rises.’

He is heartened by the fact that leaders within the impact space are getting younger and younger. ‘I’ve had the good fortune to get to know Malala – that was a young person’s work born out of tragedy and hardship. And you look at Greta today, another young person who’s really inspiring future leaders. That’s great to see.’

Image: Sebastian Nevols

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