Rowena, Head of Finance & Resources - Send a Cow | Bath, UK

New Employer

Send a Cow

Send a Cow is an established and innovative charity that enables poor farmers in Africa to become self-reliant by providing them with livestock, training and advice. The organisation have been helping families lift themselves out of poverty for over 25 years and plan to help thousands more in the future.

Send a Cow

Career Changer

Rowena Name
Head of Finance & Resources

Rowena contacted AfID back in 2015 with a wish - a wish to help those who have not had access to the free education and opportunities she had. Having already had a successful career in the education and charity sector, she booked a flight and flew to Kenya where she volunteered for six months with Send a Cow, an innovative charity which enables poor farmers in Africa to become self-reliant by providing them with livestock, training and advice.


So where is Rowena now? Well, she went on from volunteering with Send a Cow, to employment with Send a Cow and is the current Head of Finance and Resources at the organisation. We caught up with her recently to find out her thoughts on volunteering and whether it really makes a difference...

Can you tell us a little about your current role at Send a Cow?
I am Head of Finance and Resources, so basically managing money and HR. We have a team of 7 based in the UK and then 7 country offices in Africa, each with varying sizes of finance teams. Our turnover is £7m and we celebrate our 30 anniversary next year!


Many accountants worry about the transferability of their skills when moving to a new country and sector; have you found any specific experience from your past roles have been particularly relevant?
I had previously worked in education and the charitable sector within the UK so I have had considerable experience of working in the not for profit sector however international development is different, especially when dealing with foreign currency and revaluations. Management and statutory accounts are generally the same across organisations so these skills are very transferable.


How easy was it to adapt to living and working in a different culture when volunteering?
At first it was challenging, especially the lack of electricity and occasionally hot water! You get used to a different routine very quickly and I really enjoyed living in Kenya. The access to the internet is often erratic and this can be frustrating and business is more likely to be conducted face to face so you have to drop everything and have a chat with whoever pops in!


Why did you choose to work in the International Development sector?
Passion to make a difference, however small that might be and to do something worthwhile.


Do you feel your voluntary experience with AfID helped you gain your role at Send a Cow and prepare for life in your new role? If so, how?
Definitely, I would not have the role here at SAC if it had not been for AFiD. INGO’s look for financial professionals with experience in international develop so volunteering for AFiD is a perfect introduction to the sector.


What is your most memorable moment on your volunteering placement through AfID?
Watching a graduation ceremony for framers who had taken part in our programmes they were very emotional and it was a life changing experience for them.


What would you say are the pros & cons of your decision to work in the sector?
In terms of pros, the people are generally amazing and like-minded and you get a real sense of doing something worthwhile with your working time. I would say the cons are that the pay often not as good as it would be outside of the sector and at times, you can have long hours of travelling.


What ‘do’s and don’ts’ would you give to anyone thinking of travelling and working in a less developed country?
– Research and prepare, be confident in your abilities and what you can offer, learn a bit of the language and choose residential accommodation rather than a hotel

DON’T – Worry too much!


What would be your advice to other accountants considering a similar career change or looking to break into the sector?

Definitely do it! It changed my life!