Yumna Toefy, Managing Director of MAMAS Alliance is a social worker by profession with over 20 years’ experience working within the NGO and government sectors. She has eight years of academic experience as an Honours lecturer at the Social Development Department at the University of Cape Town.
“When you intentionally use your everyday life to bring about positive change in the lives of others, you begin to live a life that matters”John C Maxwell, American author, speaker, and pastor.
Yumna says that her work at the university has positively influenced her understanding of the social development sector within its broader context. Her diverse career spans across many facets of social development, ranging from counselling to training and project management.
As a non-profit network of reputable, independent, and autonomous grassroots childcare organisations, MAMAS Alliance works in predominantly remote, rural, semi-urban and urban areas in South Africa. The alliance provides structural and practical daily care to the most vulnerable and needy children.
In a candid Q&A, Yumna reveals what drove her to work in the NGO sector – the rewards, the challenges, and the importance of impactful CSI in 2022 and beyond:
What drove you to work within the NGO sector?
Growing up in a community with various social ills sparked my interest in wanting to be part of a process of change and positively influencing people’s lives.
NGOs are the ‘power engines’ that create the opportunities for change in communities to develop and empower individuals. Witnessing this process of change inspires me to be a part of the development. Making a difference in the lives of people has always been my motivating factor and seeing the change in at least one person’s life leaves me fulfilled.
To work within the NGO sector and ultimately moving towards creating a better country is something I enjoy being a part of.
What is the best part of working in this industry?
The best part of working in this industry is being part of a process of change – where you see the change happening in someone’s life. The feeling of happiness when you witness someone’s eyes light up is indescribable and that makes me realise my purpose every day.
What is the most challenging part of working in this industry?
The trust and understanding that our communities know what is best for them. Engaging communities to be part of their own process of change is key, sadly this is not recognised as important when developing community interventions. Corporates often have their own, albeit well-intentioned, agendas when it comes to community interventions, without fully understanding the individual needs of those communities. This leads to failure of projects and ultimately leads to financial loss.
What appealed to you about MAMAS Alliance?
The core values of MAMAs Alliance appealed to me and made me very excited to be a part of the team. The holistic care for the children and the support to mostly rural NGOs and the opportunities given to communities that would normally fall through the cracks is inspiring. MAMAs Alliance offers free CSI services and facilitates the process of connecting the donor and the appropriate NGO. This is quite unique in this sector as most NGOs struggle with funding and cannot afford this valuable skill.
What message would you like to convey to prospective corporates about MAMAS Alliance?
MAMAS Alliance provides corporates with the skills and expertise to match their CSI objectives with the appropriate NGOs to ensure that their funding is effectively managed, and projects are effectively implemented to the positive benefit of our communities.
“MAMAS Alliance provides corporates with the skills and expertise to match their CSI objectives with the appropriate NGOs to ensure that their funding is effectively managed.”
How would you summarise the importance of impactful CSI in 2022?
Seeing the successful implementation of programmes that have meaningful impact in communities is the core value of CSI.
Tell us about your personal background – where did you grow up?
Born in the Mother City, Cape Town. I am the youngest and only daughter with two brothers. Family is everything to me. I relocated to Johannesburg in March 2022.
Who do you consider your mentor(s) and why?
My parents have been my key mentors in my life. They taught me my foundation of values and about always being true to oneself. My Dad would always say: “Live every day in such a way that you can sleep at night with a clean heart”. My Mother has always been my pillar of strength – guiding me and teaching me the importance of independence and prioritising oneself through this journey of life.
What is your one wish for the next year?
My wish is that if everyone lives life with a kind heart, we will see the change we need in our country.
If you had to write a book about your life, what would the title be?
“Energy is everything, what you put out, returns.”