Accounting Across Borders

accawebmaster —  6 March 2012 — Leave a comment

Last year, Anita Brook FCCA told us about her upcoming trip to Malawi where she was volunteering her accountancy skills. Here’s Anita’s update on how she got on…

By Anita Brook FCCA, ACCA practitioners panel member, founder of Accounts Assist

Late last year, I was lucky enough to spend a couple of weeks working for AfiD (Accounting for International Development) in Mzimba, Malawi.

I volunteered as part of the Finance Team for the non-government organisation, COYIDA, helping it to improve its accounting systems and to train its local finance staff.

COYIDA is a specialist organisation. It aims to create a youth-efficient economy by improving living conditions and providing help, support and advice for young people in Malawi. It has four key programmes: Food security, Water and Sanitation, Gender Based violence and Child Abuse, with HIV and AIDS awareness cutting across all their work.

Having heard about COYIDA and its mission, I was compelled to help! But, I wanted to do more than just donate money. So I set off, with my backpack and trusted Birkenstocks. I had two key objectives: firstly, improve its accounting systems and secondly, to train the local finance team so they could make the most out of their donations.

Over the two weeks, I worked closely with a lady called Grace, a young member of COYIDA’s finance team. I made a few suggestions and with Grace’s help, we were able to set up computerised cash-book spreadsheet, revise the finance manual and put into place petty cash and procurement policies.

As well as putting procedures and processes in place, I also wanted to help the team, by developing their knowledge and skills. I hoped this would encourage others in the community to want to learn more and to try new things.

I know it sounds simple, but I also put in place a nominal and project code list and admin budget. This budget is there to ensure that the staff salaries and admin costs are able to be paid; allowing the immensely valuable team at COYIDA staff to be paid and allowing the great work they are doing with young people to continue.

I think as the country is still developing, there is a real need for emphasis to be placed on accounting and budgetary training. Grace was such a talented girl, and really worked hard, so I felt that with just a little bit of help – she would be able to, one day, manage COYIDA’s finances. To this end, I decided to sponsor Grace to enable her to study for her ACCA qualification.

What can I say? What an amazing experience! Yes, it was difficult, challenging, eye opening, but most importantly, it was worthwhile and in some respects life changing.  I’m lucky to have had the chance to meet Grace, share my knowledge to help make a real difference to COYIDA, which will ultimately help the young people in Malawi.

Since coming back to the UK, I’ve provided ongoing support to Grace and have given her, and the organisation, the latest Sage software. I also keep in regular contact with her, and am always at the end of the phone or email to answer any questions or problems she may have. 

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