Over 1,300 accountants have made an extraordinary difference to charities across the developing world by volunteering their finance skills through the UK based social enterprise, including some Alberta CPAs. Click here to read the story of one such volunteer, Daniel Chow.
2019 sees Accounting for International Development (AfID) celebrate their 10th year of providing invaluable support to charities across Africa, Asia and Latin America. Remarkably, accountants with over 50 different nationalities have provided financial management support to over 500 not-for-profits in more than 50 countries in that time.
AfID founder, Neil Jennings, commented “It’s a real privilege to look back at all that’s been achieved over the last 10 years, none of which would have been possible of course without our wonderful volunteers. Their hard work and commitment has assisted the development, and in some cases the very survival, of so many organizations doing fantastic work in their communities.”
AfID started as a result of Neil’s own experience back in 2007 volunteering with a small Rwandan NGO set up by orphans and refugees of the 1994 genocide. Neil notes, “It became obvious that whilst the staff had achieved amazing results with little resources, the survival of their activities hung desperately in the balance due to a lack of financial management experience and a faltering donor relationship. Volunteers had come and gone but sadly never addressing this issue and never really contributing to their long-term development and sustainability.”
On his return to the UK, Neil, who was previously a director for an international accountancy recruiter, successfully set about finding a qualified accountant to follow him and the idea of AfID was born. Next, five adventurous accountants, including Bob Gooderick with the MicroLoan Foundation in Lilongwe, carried out pilot assignments in Cambodia, Tanzania and Malawi.
From those humble beginnings, AfID has grown quickly over the last 10 years with more charities being supported each and every year. The volunteers providing the support are as diverse and varied as the NGOs themselves with the youngest to date being 22 years old and the oldest at 76. AfID report that as many as 25% of their volunteers have gone on to secure a rewarding full-time career in the not-for-profit sector post assignment.
For their 10th anniversary, AfID have set themselves the ambitious target of sending over 200 volunteers on assignment, which range in length from just 2 weeks up to 12 months, during the
course of the year. Neil added, “10 years on from when we first started, and in an era of decreasing foreign aid and rising donor skepticism, the need for sound financial management has never been so clear. With demand from NGO’s continuing to rise we are always in need of more volunteers. “There is a tendency to imagine that you need to have decades of experience before being able to have any sort of lasting impact but this simply isn’t the case. The truth is we need accountants from all backgrounds and all levels of experience – there is something for everyone!”