Herbert Smith Freehills has launched a mentoring programme for African undergraduates in partnership with the Ashinaga Africa Initiative, which provides support to exceptional orphaned African students. Ben Rigby reports.
The firm will provide mentoring support from each of the firm’s London and Paris offices to four bright students studying law in the UK and France.
Ashinaga is a Japanese non-governmental organization (NGO) that provides support and education for orphaned students around the world, both financially and emotionally, including through providing loans and scholarships.
The NGO has strong African roots, having been established in Uganda since 2001, (in supporting orphans with HIV/AIDS) and subsequently opening in Senegal, as well as the US, UK and Europe.
The Ashinaga Africa Initiative is described by the NGO as “an academic leadership programme that aims to provide an opportunity for higher education…to orphaned students from 49 countries in sub-Saharan Africa,” which allows for one outstanding student from each jurisdiction to be selected to join the program every year.
Previous alumni, for example, includes Ivorian energy and infrastructure lawyer, Tidiane Camara, an associate at African law firm, Asafo & Co, who studied in Europe before returning to practice in Abidjan.
Upon concluding his law studies in Paris and his LLM in London, Camara, who is dual-qualified in France and Côte d’Ivoire, had worked in various law firms in France, before returning to practise in his home jurisdiction.
The firm said the initiative reflected the commitment of its Africa management team to supporting African lawyers across a range of jurisdictions, as well as South Africa, where it has offices.
Nina Bowyer, Herbert Smith Freehills’ global co-head of the Africa group, said: “We are delighted to be supporting the Ashinaga programme. This initiative aligns with the firm’s 10 Actions for Change and reflects the commitment of our Africa practice to support the next generation. The take-up internally well exceeded our expectations and I would like to thank all of our lawyers who volunteered to act as mentors in this meaningful initiative.”
The initiative is one of a number of CSR activities undertaken by the firm in Africa; for example, in South Africa, it contributes to an annual winter warmer campaign, and runs a number of fundraising activities throughout the year, for example for Mandela Day, and at Christmas.
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