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Olivia, ICAS

Local Staff

Bright Generation is a small community based organisation with eight members of staff, five paid and three volunteers. The key accounting member of staff, Gabby, speaks good English and has a BA in Business Administration.

Bright Generation

The Partner

Olivia, ICAS
Bright Generation

Bright Generation Community Foundation supports vulnerable groups in Ghana by creating innovative projects that improve the social and economic welfare of children, young people and women. One of their major programmes is the ‘Ghana Bamboo Bikes Initiative’ which takes advantage of the abundant bamboo found in Ghana to design, develop, and market bamboo bikes and frames, related products and services.

The Challenge

Bright Generation Africa is an organisation with innovative programmes and high profile donors, however they did not have the financial management in place that matched their growth, programmatic reach and donor requirements. Specific issues included significant gaps in the finance processes, delays in producing actuals, lack of 5-year strategic budgeting, an out of date business plan and fragmented accounting records.

The Brief

The finance team required immediate support with preparing budgets and accounts, improving donor reporting and tracking donations, along with a general review of their systems and processes.

Skills and experience

  • Member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants Scotland (ICAS)

  • Considerable experience in financial reporting, budgeting and internal controls

  • Some experience of working with not-for-profits and familiarity with basic charity accounting terminology 

The Volunteer

Olivia, ICAS Name
Olivia, ICAS
Internal Audit Manager

ICAS qualified accountant Olivia had always had a love for volunteering as a way to see new places, meet new people and see the world from a different perspective. She currently works as an internal auditor at GSK and has over eight years of experience managing complex projects across pharmaceutical, telecommunication, exploration, construction and advertising sectors.

This experience put her in an excellent position to be a ‘first’ AfID volunteer as this often requires a thorough review of systems, processes and controls. An audit background, combined with her experience in financial analysis, cashflow forecasting and budgeting, along with her desire to volunteer in Ghana, made her an ideal candidate.


  • Identification of gaps in financial processes and areas for improvement, including the tightening of cash control.

  • The creation of a separate accounting record for bamboo bike which in prior year numbers were mixed between the NGO and trading entity, making it difficult to see the real sales and cost.

  • Creation of a 5-year strategic plan and linking this to the actuals accounting record.

  • The provision of basic excel training.

The Assignment

Olivia introduced and trained staff in many areas of day-to-day accounting processes such as the use and recording of petty cash movement. She also created and introduced templates to record cash and non-cash transactions, create an income statement, introduce a chart of accounts and compare budgets against actual.


Olivia then worked alongside programmes staff to create a 5-year budget. Actuals were prepared for year to date March 2016 and compared to the budget.


The business plan was also updated, in particular around the marketing strategy and competitor research. Finally, a fixed asset register was created.

The Impact

Together with the finance team, Olivia mapped the accounting process, identified areas for improvement, and designed solutions tailored to Bright Generation needs and staff experience levels.  Olivia worked hard to make sure that the team felt comfortable with the updated tools and used it on a day-to-day basis, to ensure the processes were embedded. Bright Generation has now a stronger finance function which reflects their growth, programmatic reach and donor requirements.



  • Communication has improved between finance, programme and management staff.


  • Finance staff are more confident and better able to carry out their daily functions.

Long term
  • Management and programmes staff have an increased financial awareness and understanding of internal controls.

  • The need for good accounting/financial management is now seen by staff as an integral part of the organisation’s success.

“Olivia was more than just a working partner. Her sense of duty, working habit, punctuality and sense of humour made her a treasure to our organization. We recommend people of her sort to organizations for which transparent and strong work ethics are the core values.”

Bernice Dappah, Executive Director

What's next?

As part of AfID’s long term programme of support a second AfID volunteer will follow up on Olivia’s recommendations:

  • Understand the normal month end procedure, and offer suggestions for improvement.
  • Discuss how the matching principle can be better applied to the BGGI accounts.  It is unclear how (and if) completed bikes are recorded in inventory, and how the cost of sales is recognised when sales are made.
  • Seek greater clarification over the running cost of BGCF, and also distinction between restricted and unrestricted funds. This is not clear from the accounts, but is a key donor requirement.