Who are you?
My name is Rehan Salim and I am from Manchester, UK. I studied Business IT at university, followed by an MA in International Development. I have worked primarily in the third sector with a number of international charities and have spent some time within corporate since 2004. My background is in Programmes, which meant overseeing projects from the UK as well as spending time abroad in-country managing Health and Food security projects.
Why are you in the charity sector?
It really started when I was just fresh out of university and still unsure what my career path might be. Though I had some experience in business administration and computer science, some soul-searching led me to work for a local charity. I haven’t looked back since.
I try to follow the classic advice, to pursue your passion, and I like to think I have always felt content in the sector because of this.
What’s the best and worst thing you’ve seen?
There is probably no ‘best’ per se, as I think every project changes one’s life in a meaningful way, though we may not necessarily realise the full extent at the time. Having said that, one memory that has always stuck with me took place in Tharparkar, Pakistan. We witnessed the local community’s reaction the first time they saw water gush out from a newly built solar-powered water well. It was a beautiful mix of relief, happiness and joy, and will always stay with me.
In terms of the worst, during an outbreak of Cholera in Yemen, I witnessed a mother cradling the head of her two frail children in her palms at a health clinic. They were both on a drip and significantly unwell. To this day, I do not know what became of her and her children. This sector is the only one where you hope your job becomes redundant as time goes by, but this is unfortunately not the case.
What has surprised you the most about the sector?
The biggest surprise has been the type of innovation in the sector, particularly within fundraising and technology. Things like the explosion of crowd-funding platforms, automated giving within certain periods of time, real-time feedback of project delivery etc are all relatively novel.
I can only see this increasing, and I think the challenge is not just how to cater for these new initiatives, but for organisations like N3O to know how to pre-empt and facilitate future trends.
If I wasn’t working in the charity sector, I would be…
working in the medical field.
The idea a charity tech company came about after a number of conversations between Noor Drummond and I, while working for an INGO. We observed a lot of the challenges we were facing were also prevalent in many other NGOs in our network. Even up until today, 5 years since those conversations began, we continue to update our software to deal with these inherent issues.
As for why we named our venture N3O – this came after much deliberation and a number of revisions 😊. There are two main elements:
1) It’s a play on the acronym ‘NGO’ (non-governmental organisation), as our focus is on charities.
2) The ‘3’ refers to the Third Sector. (Yes, we did try to innovate here!)
Which three words best describe your role with N3O?
Demonstrator, salesman, number-cruncher.
Where do you see N3O in 10 years?
I firmly believe N3O can become the go-to technology partner for major NGOs and charities within the Third sector. With a bespoke offering for charities of all sizes and dealing with the snowballing complexities of consolidating rich data, managing finances and delivering critical projects, organisations are increasingly looking for a solid partner for systems and tailored solutions.
What’s your secret talent that nobody knows about?
It’s so secret, I don’t even know about it yet!