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Name Anne (SAICA)
Employer IDinsight
Day job Volunteer Accountant
Assignment IDinsight

Anne (SAICA)
Anne Roberts took some time out from her busy life in the private sector to spend 6 weeks volunteering in Uganda with IDinsight. Having previously worked in Africa before, Anne was keen to explore more of the world’s most beautiful continent and use her accountancy skills to help people whilst she was there. We caught up with Anne upon her return to see how things went in Uganda.

1. Many accountants worry about the transferability of their skills when working in a new country and sector; did you find any specific experience from your past roles relevant to your volunteer experience? 

I found my training as an external auditor helpful in identifying weaknesses in (or lack of) financial management and internal control systems. I also found my previous experience working in developing countries allowed me to adapt more easily to the local working and living environment.

2. How easy was it to adapt to living and working in a different culture?  

As I had previously worked and lived in a few sub-Saharan African countries, I did not find it difficult to live or work in Uganda. English is widely spoken in Kampala, there are numerous restaurants and sports clubs, and the level of crime did not seem to be as high as in some other African cities.

3. What ‘do’s and dont’s’ would you give to anyone thinking of travelling and working in a less developed country?

Do try and find the time to travel around and see as much of the country as you can, do not expect much of an infrastructure and for things to happen fast. Some days you will have no internet access, no running water and no electricity and there is not much you can do about it.

4. What would be your advice to other accountants considering volunteering in the sector?

Pick a country that you would like to visit and that you are likely to feel comfortable living in.

5. What was your job role?

The main part of my role was to assess the current financial management and internal control systems in all of the NGO's entities globally, identify any weaknesses or missing aspects, and provide guidance on remedial action required to improve the current systems.

6. What skills did you gain? (i.e. working with limited resources etc.)

 Starting something almost from scratch with very little input, given the financial management system in place was almost non-existent due to the NGO having been newly established, improved my project initiation and project management skills.

7. How do the AfID programmes benefit the charities it supports?

AfID matches the charities they support with qualified and experienced finance professionals. As a finance professional I would not have known how to go about finding a volunteer position directly with a charity.

8. What was your favourite moment of your volunteer experience?

My favourite work moment was when after weeks of trying to gather information, I eventually understood enough to write a meaningful report with recommendations on how to address weaknesses in the existing financial management and internal control system. My favourite play moment was seeing the mountain gorillas in Bwindi.

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