Youssef Almustafa is one of the co-founders of TRUST. He took some time out of this day to tell me a little bit about his story and why TRUST began.
What motivated you to work in the development sector?
Because without development, there is no progress – I mean specifically development that puts people as the forefront of its programmes. I like working in the development because I believe I have skills to offer that can make a difference, especially from a humanitarian point of view. Since
2000, I have been working in the social or development sectors, starting with the State Planning Commission and then moving from the UNRWA to the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor, then onto the humanitarian sector in 2013. I have worked with GOAL, CARE, NRC, IBTCI and last year I co-founded TRUST.
What project inspired you in your early career?
The UNRWA microfinance microenterprise program in 2003 was really inspiring; it was one of my best experiences. I was the first manager of this program, supervising a team of ten staff and we were assigned the task of assessing microenterprises and defining their needs. There is no better experience than meeting the inspiring people who manage to run microenterprises in such challenging conditions.
What attracted you to monitoring and evaluation?
My interest began after attending one of the OCHA training sessions in Damascus in 2013, which led me to seek such roles in the sector. I applied for a job with GOAL and started with them as a deputy field M&E program manager in August 2013. With my brilliant line manager, Victoria Palmer, we established an M&E department for GOAL Syria, which eventually made up 13% of the staff. I was attracted to M&E because I consider it to be the main engine of NGO success. It is the compass that tells you if you are on track or whether changes are needed and to what extend you are achieving objectives. I’d say an NGO with no M&E is like a ship with no compass!
What do you think could be improved in the sector?
An urgent need for professional, measurable qualifications in the field is needed – something similar to Project Management Professional certificates. Also, an increased awareness of M&E in the humanitarian and development sectors is something I would like to see. Many people still misunderstand M&E and its role.
Why were you motivated you to start Trust?
My co-founder (Hassan Jenedie) and I noticed a gap in third party monitoring services in the region in terms of a lack of companies that provide these services and the quality of service they offer. Hassan and I felt that our familiarity with the context and our professional skillsets gained from office and field based experience meant we could fill this vacuum.
What has been the most exciting moment for Trust so far?
It has to be our team. We have staff from Syria, Turkey, Egypt, and the UK with an amazing range of collective experience and skills – and we’re constantly growing. Trust’s strength comes from its human resources and we have taken time to carefully select staff suited to the humanitarian sector on the one hand and skill sets suited to the requirements of M&E work on the other. It’s a necessary balance.
What hopes do you have for the company in the future?
We’re hoping to continue developing and to grow into a company that has an office in every single country in the MENA region. We want to work with the development sector to improve accountability and the quality of work in this important field.