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Khawar Malik

CEO and Founder of charity Apple & Pears

While still a trainee at Clifford Chance, Khawar began a successful social inclusion charity that continues to be supported by the firm.

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Apples & Pears gives primary school children and their families the opportunity to discover inspiring educational, social and cultural activities through its weekend trips programme. Its name comes from the Cockney rhyming slang for stairs, which fits with both the charity’s London roots and its aim of providing a ‘stairway’ for children to discover new experiences.

Since Khawar founded the charity in 2012, Apples & Pears has enabled over 1,500 children from primary schools in the London Boroughs of Tower Hamlets, Southwark, Greenwich and Lambeth, to go on over 170 trips across the city. This year the charity expects to distribute over £40,000 in grants for the benefit of up to 50 organisations using a pool of over 400 volunteers.

Clifford Chance played a central role in supporting Apples & Pears right from the outset as the range of inclusion opportunities it provides to London families are fundamental to the firm's community outreach programme.

So how did it all start? “Within months of beginning my Clifford Chance traineeship in 2012, I was working on pro bono projects, ranging from corporate foundations to social investment charities.” This introduced Khawar to local schools and one, in the Limehouse area of London, made a big impression on him. “It was comprehensive in the truest sense, with different ethnicities and religious backgrounds, an autism unit and children with disabilities, but all part of one broad community.”

“One thing I knew as a legal trainee was how to incorporate a company. So I set up a charity.”

Learning that the school was about to lose funding for its trips, Khawar decided on the spot to raise money to help. His legal skills quickly proved vital. “One thing I knew as a legal trainee was how to incorporate a company. So I set up a charity.”

He liked the trip format and decided to extend it to other schools because “trips are a great enabler for people from different backgrounds to meet, explore and have fun together”. Khawar values the role that community led forums can play in facilitating social interaction, particularly for young people. “We work closely with our project partners, tailoring our trip programmes to collaboratively tackle issues important to them.” He cites the charity’s Londoners’ Project as an example. It funds trips for those at the same school but from different cultures to encourage them to enjoy activities together. This often sees Londoners showing newer arrivals around the city or swapping culinary delights.

As a newly-qualified member of Clifford Chance’s private equity M&A team, Khawar was busy advising on deals in London and Dubai but he was determined to keep his fledgling charity growing. “The firm was not only understanding, it was actively supportive and I found its experience of working with local and international charities invaluable as I worked hard to grow Apples & Pears.”

Khawar left the firm in 2014 and now works for insurance giant AIG as a senior underwriter for M&A deals in emerging markets, but he is delighted that Clifford Chance continues to help Apples & Pears, from staff fundraising activities to office services and legal advice. Having founded the charity as a direct result of the pro bono work he did while at Clifford Chance, Khawar says he is delighted that the charity is now a pro bono client of the firm.

“The firm was not only understanding, it was actively supportive.”

His hectic work schedule at AIG means Khawar has built a unique administrative model for the charity. He draws on the skill of fellow professionals who provide their financial or PR skills for free, but they work together almost entirely online, saving time and reducing the need for office space. This helps Khawar meet the charity’s promise that 100% of all donations go to Apples & Pears projects. But he continues to keep a close connection with the schools and projects the charity funds. That personal involvement is something he says he wouldn’t want to miss out on, however demanding his job is.

Based on his own personal experience bringing a new charity to life, Khawar praises Clifford Chance’s role in supporting local communities and global causes. Although juggling a day job and charity work can be demanding, Khawar believes the rewards make it more than worthwhile and says that he relishes learning more about his community through the grassroots approach Apples & Pears takes.