At one level, financial management is easy

I’m the treasurer of a small charity in the UK, the Friends of Ibba Girls School. Our mission is to build and support a girls school in the village of Ibba in the southwest of South Sudan.

When I say small I am still referring to a charity that has raised about £400,000 ($500,000) in each of the last few years so there is quite a bit of bookkeeping for me to do.

Last weekend we held our annual open meeting for supporters. We do this as part of a commitment to openness and transparency. It is impiety to us that our donors, most of whom are regular people, can see what we have done with the money they gave us. A key element of all these open meetings is a live Skype call with the school where some staff and some pupils can talk to the donors.

The meeting also includes verbal reports by trustees, including a financial report by me (there is an echo here of the origins of audit). This year I started with the headlines.

“We’ve raised a lot of money. We’ve spent a lot of money. We need more money.”

When you boil it down, what we do is as simple as that.

In fact, since 2011 the charity has raised over £2.315 million. The school has 220 girls in 6 classes, 9 teachers, and about 20 other staff (who all get paid every month). But we want the school to grow to 360 girls which means we need more classrooms and dormitories as well as more teachers.

If you want to donate you can do so at

If you happen to have contacts in a foundation or institution that has an interest in girls’ education in Africa then please contact me so we can discuss it.

How the spreadsheet shaped the modern economy

Recently I’ve written a couple of posts about spreadsheets and financial modelling. I’ve mentioned that I can remember creating spreadsheets on paper when I first started as a trainee accountant. That was 1986. Spreadsheet software existed then but our accountancy teams’ computers were dumb terminals connected to a mainframe. It was over the following years that PCs began to appear in the offices, first to be shared but soon everybody had one.

This podcast from the BBC World Service is a nice history about the spreadsheet. What I found most interesting was the observation that this particular form of automation led to the creation of new and more interesting jobs because it freed accountants from the drudgery of hand-writing spreadsheets. This is quite different from automation in factories which, overall, reduce employment.

On the subject of spreadsheets, my free course about how to create spreadsheets that comply with financial modelling standards is still available here.

The principles of public procurement explained in under an hour

The principles of public procurement explained in under an hour

I wrote a short e-book that explains the principles of public procurement by using the hiring of a consultant as an example. The book will take less than an hour to read and yet it includes an explanation of the key steps in the process and has links to additional resources to help with writing your specification (get this wrong and the chances of things going wrong increases dramatically) and managing suppliers.

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Help the next generation of women reach their potential

Help the next generation of women reach their potential

In South Sudan most girls drop out of school early, before they achieve any formal qualifications. In fact, teenage girls are more likely to die in childbirth than complete their secondary education.

At the beginning of February the government of South Sudan published the results of the nationwide primary school leaving certificate which were taken sat at the end of November 2018.

The top scorer in the 2018 examinations was a girl from a small village in the south west of the country. She was joined in the national top ten by five of her classmates. That’s 6 out of the top ten scorers in the country were girls from the same small school: Ibba Girls Boarding School.

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