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African accounts

Having worked for 27 years in various positions for the Boots Group (now Alliance Boots) I took voluntary redundancy in 2004, aged 50, to consider new pursuits. I was given the opportunity to change my career and spent five months working as an English teacher in China before deciding to pursue a career in the charity sector through Mango (Management Accounting for Non-Governmental Organisations).

Having previously worked in Nairobi for five years as the finance director and finance manager of an overseas subsidiary of Boots in the 1990s, I wanted to return to Africa.

I initially worked for a small charity in Mozambique called Jacana, before joining Trade Aid’s project at Mikindani, a small village in Tanzania 500 miles south of Dar-es-Salaam [the country’s largest city], as the volunteer head of finance.

The aim of Trade Aid, a small UK charity, is to improve the lives of the villagers by offering them work in Old Boma, a training hotel that was originally a German fort built in 1898.

It provides training for about 30 workers in the village, which they can use to build careers in the hotel industry.

The charity also undertakes projects such as refurbishing buildings and setting up a micro finance project in the village.

It has been a hugely rewarding experience because when I arrived (with my wife, who taught English) the project’s finances were in a mess.

There was no budget and the balance sheet was wrong. There were 10m shillings in the bank, while the balance sheet was showing a loss of 5m shillings.

It has been challenging because of those issues and because it is a very different culture.

However, having a CIMA qualification meant I had a lot to offer the role through my previous experience, as well as a personality that is right for this kind of work.

Photo: Alamy

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