I proudly took the reins as Chief Executive of Human Appeal in April 2019. I came over from the USA, where I was a management consultant, working across Europe and the Middle East, advising senior leaders in the humanitarian and development sector. I’m also a member of the World Economic Forum and Civil Society Advisory Team.
Previously, I completed a PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Maryland and I had a successful career as an engineer.
I began working in the humanitarian aid and development sector in 2006, when I joined Islamic Relief US as Acting Chief Executive Officer. I later became Chief Executive of Islamic Relief for four years (until 2016) and have served as a member of the Board of Directors of prominent non-profits, including the likes of Mercy International and the Islamic Society of North America. I was also president of the Muslim Arab Youth Association.
In 2017, Human Appeal reported a series of allegations concerning financial governance issues to the Charity Commission. Human Appeal’s trustees immediately suspended the CEO and appointed a leading specialist auditor to investigate.
Based on the evidence presented, the CEO was dismissed, subject to his right of appeal. Although a thorough verification process affirmed that all the funds that Human Appeal raised between 2015 and 2018 were spent correctly, upgrades in our internal policies, protocols and processes were recommended by the independent auditor.
During the investigation, we felt the pain of employees leaving, institutional donors freezing their funding, and some of our valuable supporters cancelling their subscriptions. Ever since, Human Appeal has been going through a time of change and transformation to make our organisation even more transparent, accountable and effective, stepping up our safeguarding processes for beneficiaries, staff and all who interact with us.
We have taken every measure to rectify the actions of individuals formerly employed by Human Appeal, and I am keen to continue providing complete, transparent and amenable access to our records, accounts and premises to the Charity Commission’s investigation, which is due to come to an end in the coming weeks.
Although we at Human Appeal were already in the process of upgrading our systems since 2016, the investigation expedited the implementation of Salesforce, a world-class CRM system to deliver greater insight and analysis, whilst upgrading our accounting system to Microsoft Nav, ensuring real-time, global financial oversight of all our country offices.
We have reviewed all tax requirements in all countries in which we operate, and we have reviewed our suppliers and implemented a more robust funding model to fund our projects more efficiently.
Our governance procedures have been overhauled with enhanced reporting to the board of trustees, whilst on-boarding four new and highly qualified trustees. We have also ensured extensive training to all local staff to make sure they understand and comply with law, policies and procedures, and improved our internal auditing while utilising external auditing partners, globally. In 2017, we established internal audit to undertake a comprehensive review of our Turkey operations and as a result we established our in-house internal audit function.
Also, in 2017, ahead of the investigation, our diligence process was reviewed by the USA legal counsel, Ferrari & Associates, resulting in revised measures involving all global stakeholders and overseen by our in-house compliance officer.
We have also developed our whistle-blowing process, introducing a hotline “Public Concern at Work”, whilst a competency matrix was also introduced by our People and Culture (Human Resources) department to hire highly skilled qualified people aligned with our values, culture and behaviour.
Moving forwards, our programmes manual will undergo regular reviews with dip sampling of products, while proactive risk management workshops, RHIZA (introduced in 2017), will be a regular agenda item at our board of trustee meetings and audit committee meetings. Looking ahead, we will not condone or tolerate any bad behaviour, law breaking, or actions that are not aligned with our protocol, policy and procedures.
Changing our culture and behaviour means that everything we do must be aligned with our values – we must live our values.
Despite the negative impact of the investigation, the difference we made in the lives of our beneficiaries in 2017/18 was immense. Altogether, we reached £7,257,488.
We have taken all necessary measures to ensure that, not only is no individual able to compromise the Human Appeal family again, but to blaze a trail in transparency, trust and Islamic integrity that other organisations strive to follow.
This is the new Human Appeal that we have created together. Together, we are committed to restoring our beloved place of work and ensuring that we remain focused on helping vulnerable people across the world.
We’re striving to create world in which Human Appeal is obsolete. But until that time, it is my privilege to continue to lead Human Appeal into this new phase.
In my capacity as CEO, I’ve made a personal commitment to this goal. To this end, I will continue to ensure Human Appeal’s transparency, integrity and accountability. I will be making it easy for our supporters to see exactly how their charity is being spent, how it is changing lives, and how it is going further to ensure more good deeds and more rewards.
Across our offices and throughout our work, Human Appeal will not tolerate any unethical or unlawful behaviour, nor any actions that contravene our policies and procedures.
Thank you to all our supporters, who recognised that the actions of individuals do not represent the work or values to which we are committed. Thank you for continuing to support vulnerable people.
It has been my pleasure to guide and transform this organisation, that is truly magnificent, tireless and big-hearted at its core.
I’m honoured to introduce to you the new Human Appeal.
Dr Mohamed Ashmawey