Mama Cash is thrilled to announce that Saranel Benjamin will become our co-Executive Director, starting 1 January 2023. She will join Happy Mwende Kinyili, who has been in post since July, to complete our executive leadership team. In February, Mama Cash shared our decision to embrace a new model of co-executive leadership as a way of living our value of sharing power.
Saranel comes to Mama Cash with nearly thirty years’ experience working to advance gender and racial justice. She began her career in South Africa working in the trade union movement where she launched the first School for Trade Union Women. For the past ten years, she has worked in the United Kingdom in the international NGO (INGO) sector. She has worked at War on Want, Action Aid UK, and, most recently, Oxfam Great Britain as Head of Partnerships. Saranel says that working for Mama Cash is a ‘long-standing dream come true.’
Saranel shared her thoughts about joining Mama Cash: ‘During the past decade, I’ve experienced the colonial and racist nature of the international aid system and the role that INGOs in the North play to enable and perpetuate it. It’s so important that organisations like Mama Cash are calling out the colonial, racist, and patriarchal aid system. Mama Cash models decolonial, feminist, and racially-just funding practices that seek to address the unequal power dynamic that exists between Global North and Global South organisations. All over the world, we are seeing the rise of harmful discourses: neo-colonialism, anti-Black racism, opposition to trans rights, binary thinking and approaches to gender and sexual identity, and the pushback against women’s rights. In difficult contexts, Mama Cash dares to go where others fear to tread. I am thrilled to join this courageous organisation that gets resources to the change-makers, especially in a co-leadership role that is well aligned with my values and principles as an anti-racist feminist. Sharing power and holding each other accountable for how we show up as leaders is a radically transformative approach to leadership. Through co-leadership, Mama Cash will benefit from a cohesive and complementary set of skills, knowledge, and experience.’
‘I am so excited to begin the journey of leading Mama Cash together with Saranel to bring even more and better money to the feminist movements that we love’, reflected Happy. ‘Our world today desperately needs feminist visions and realities, and Saranel and I are ready to lead Mama Cash to ensure that resources reach the feminist groups, initiatives, and movements that are making liberatory feminist visions a reality.’
An element of Mama Cash’s new co-ED model is a commitment to having one co-ED based in the Global South, while the other is based in our first home in the Netherlands. We believe that having one member of our executive team in the Global South demonstrates that we are a global organisation, with well-integrated colleagues worldwide, including at the most senior levels of leadership. Our departing co-ED, zohra moosa, who will leave Mama Cash at the end of 2022, says, ‘I'm thrilled to welcome Saranel Benjamin to join Happy as Mama Cash’s co-Executive Director. Our new cross-border co-ED leadership model is an exciting next step in our “share/ing power” journey, and marks an important moment in our organisational evolution, too – just in time for our 40th birthday! As I leave Mama Cash after almost ten years, I'm delighted to know it will be led by this inspiring and capable feminist duo. I can't wait to see what happens next!’