9th April 2020 


Lord Laidlaw Gives Four Thousand Food Packages to Masiphumelele Township 

Lord Laidlaw is providing four thousand food packages, with enough food for a family of four, to his local township Masiphumelele, for the next two weeks while the community struggles with the impact of Covid19. 

The coronavirus lockdown is causing hardship, suffering and distress to people all over the world. In the cramped townships of South Africa, already struggling with poverty and overcrowding, the impact is particularly devastating. Those who have lost their jobs in the shutdown are faced with not knowing how they will feed themselves and their families. 

Working with churches, NGOs and his local contacts, Lord Laidlaw is making sure that families have enough to eat. 

Lord Laidlaw says, “it is vital that we support those who have become unemployed due to the coronavirus, and ensure that they and their families do not have to worry about such a basic human need as food.” 

A local doctor, coordinating the parcel drops with the church Living Hope, says that the quick response to the situation has been both impressive and gratefully received. 

UPDATE (09/06/2020): 1 million meals have now been donated to Masiphumelele residents through food vouchers bought by Lord Laidlaw. 

About Lord Laidlaw 

Lord Laidlaw is a committed philanthropist, serial entrepreneur, and accomplished sportsman. 

A graduate of Leeds University and Columbia Business School, Lord Laidlaw founded the Institute for International Research Ltd (IIR) which became the world’s largest conference and training company. He sold it in 2005 for $1.4bn to Informa Plc. He has since gone on to build a large property company and invest extensively in sustainable energy, including the Veja Mate Offshore Wind Farm where he was the majority owner. His most recent project is building a renewable power resource in Rwanda. 

Lord Laidlaw was one of the very earliest business leaders to see diversity in his management team as an important strength. Lord Laidlaw believes passionately that performance should be rewarded and was a pioneer in sharing profits with his employees. 

A committed internationalist, he considers it vital for the next generation of leaders to have and understand global connections. His generous philanthropy, funding academies and scholarships, centres on two core beliefs; firstly that inspirational education can break the cycle of poverty, and secondly the need for a new generation of diverse, passionate and adaptive leaders with a world view. The Women in Business movement that Lord Laidlaw funds, both helps to build a more diverse future leadership and pays tribute to the many women who helped make IIR so successful. 

About the Laidlaw Foundation 

The Laidlaw Foundation invests in the education of the underprivileged and underrepresented in order to break the cycle of poverty, reduce inequality and develop a new generation of leaders. 


We believe that education is the single most powerful tool to break the cycle of poverty and reduce inequality in the world. We invest in the education of the underprivileged and the underrepresented in order to create systemic change. 

Our goal is to develop a new generation of engaged global citizens and leaders; who embrace research, make data-driven decisions and believe that there is a moral imperative to act with integrity. 


The Foundation currently supports 4 programmes: 

1. Laidlaw Schools Trust – a growing multi-academy trust founded to transform the lives of children and communities in the North of England, through inspirational education. http://laidlawschoolstrust.com/ 

2. Laidlaw Undergraduate Research and Leadership Scholars – an international programme supporting undergraduates in 12 top universities around the world, designed to develop a new generation of leaders who are skilled researchers, embrace data-based decision making, and believe it is a moral imperative to lead with integrity. https://laidlawscholars.network/ 

3. Women’s Business Education Laidlaw Scholars – an initiative to ensure that we have more women on executive and non-executive boards globally. By investing in extraordinary women to gain their MBAs, the Foundation intends to give women the education and networks to achieve equal representation and power. To date, we have helped over 300 women earn their MBA from Columbia Business School and are just beginning a Women’s Movement programme with both London Business School and Oxford’s Said, providing full and half scholarships to women who would not otherwise be in a position to reap the benefits of attending this outstanding school. 

4. Buildings at schools and universities designed to help students excel – the Foundation has funded the Laidlaw Music Centre at the University of St. Andrews, built the Laidlaw Library at Leeds University and is developing a new campus space there which will bring together academics and entrepreneurs. At Sedgefield Community College, the Foundation is building a state-of-the-art new Teaching and Leadership Centre. 

Media Contact 

Philippa Clothier 

Clothier Lacey & Co 


T: 0191 273 9897