In a few short years Penny Appeal has grown from a small outfit raising a couple hundred thousand pounds to now a globally renowned award-winning humanitarian agency turning over, in the past 12 months alone, in excess of £22 million transforming lives in over 30 countries.
As we’ve grown from strength to strength it sometimes amazes even our own team to look back and appreciate all that has been accomplished. As Founder and Chairman one of the tasks I’m charged with is to rally the troops and keep motivation and morale high. One of the potential drawbacks of growing so quickly is not stopping to celebrate all the milestones we have achieved along the way.
When I started Penny Appeal, all those moons ago, I never thought our vision would resonate so powerfully with Muslim communities across the country, let alone across the planet. The reality of our inter-connected world today is that I, as a British Muslim, have more in common with fellow young Muslims in Sydney, San Francisco or even Sarajevo than I do with my parents’ generation of Muslims or even my local imam. Migration patterns along with technological advancements have led to the emergence of what many call the ‘Global Urban Muslim’ identity.
Global Urban Muslims share commonalities across geographies and view their faith and cultural fusion as source of inspiration and value, not as a liability or crutch. This community is the very reason Penny Appeal has been so successful across the world. It’s an exciting time for Penny Appeal as we see more and more communities across the world connecting with our vision, the most recent being in South Africa.
With a hope, a prayer, a few phone calls and a handful of emails I was on a plane to the tip of Africa, a country that has witnessed incredible transformation in our lifetimes. Our team spent a whirlwind week connecting with movers and shakers across the country and we are very excited about our burgeoning South African team who have taken the Penny Appeal vision by the horns and are already working to make it their own.
With so much doom and gloom in the world, not least in the work we do tackling extreme poverty, our new South Africa office gives us pause to celebrate. As Penny Appeal continues to grow it’s easy to gloss over the small wins. It’s not just another office, another country, another team; rather it’s a leap into a new world of opportunities to learn and to share and help transform small change into an even bigger difference.
Share our story and vision with potential partners on the ground in South Africa has revitalised our drive and reminded us of how much more work there is to do. We have connected with some incredible organisations and leaders and are already incorporating our learnings from the trip across the length and breadth of the organisation.
At Penny Appeal, we aspire to create a sustainable world through empowered people and strong communities. Our work started above a pizza shop in Yorkshire is now fast spreading across the world. I’m so grateful to all who have believed in our vision and helped us grow from strength to strength. Our South Africa team brings decades of experience, wisdom and insight to our work. Where next? Allah knows, but for us it’s onwards and upwards.
Founder of the UK’s largest Muslim website SingleMuslim.com and chairman of Britain’s fastest growing Muslim-led charity Penny Appeal, award-winning entrepreneur and humanitarian making a difference around the world.