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Career coach: a new ICAEW Foundation initiative for Malawi

Author: ICAEW Insights

Published: 02 Dec 2020

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ICAEW Foundation’s Building Futures bursary programme funds students to undertake local accountancy qualifications in Malawi, Ghana, Lesotho and Cambodia. We hear about a new support to pass initiative in Malawi, and from three recently qualified students who benefited from ICAEW Foundation’s bursary support in Ghana.

Alongside the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Malawi (ICAM), ICAEW has been working to improve exam results and tuition there. Jonathan Mbewe, an ICAEW consultant, has been overseeing a new initiative in Malawi, created by ICAEW’s International Capacity Building (ICB) team and jointly funded by ICAEW and ICAEW Foundation. The project is focused on improving the quality of tuition provision.

This year the ICAEW Foundation and ICAM agreed to also use the bursary programme to attract the most talented university graduates onto ICAEW’s ‘help to pass’ scheme. Four universities and colleges are participating to guarantee a pipeline of top quality university graduates in Malawi who will sit chartered accountancy exams.

The first cohort of graduates were recruited this autumn, securing training contracts, and sponsored to attend courses in 2021 at one of the three participating colleges.

Mbewe says: “This project is the first step towards giving students in Malawi the best chance of exam success and qualification. However, it needs to attract the best students in the country and the ICAEW Foundation bursary programme will do exactly that.”

In 2015, ICB worked with ICAM to convert its accountancy body into a chartered institute. ICB assisted ICAM to develop its own chartered accountancy qualification.

Bismark Appiah, age 31

He read economics and political science at the University of Ghana, Legon, graduating in 2013. He now works as assistant internal auditor at Enyan Denkyira Rural Bank in Ajumako Enyan Essiam District, in central Ghana.

“I fell in love with figures when I was at senior high school, so I enrolled on the Institute of Chartered Accountants, Ghana (ICAG) professional qualification programme, run by ICA Ghana,” says Appiah. “That was in 2017.”

He needed financial support to further his studies. Luckily he was able to apply for a loan through his employer. One year into his studies and shortly after he passed all his Level 1 papers with distinction, he received a call from ICAG recommending that he apply for ICAEW Foundation’s bursary. A year later he learnt he’d been successful.

“I had got my scholarship, which meant that all my fees, including my tuition, annual subscription, study materials and examination costs would be covered, and would be backdated to November 2018.

“That letter changed my life. The bursary empowered me. Without all that financial stress, I could focus on studying effectively for my exams. I had so much more space in my head to think and to concentrate.”

As a result of the scholarship, Appiah completed his finals in a shorter time frame. He graduated in November 2020. It marks the start of something bigger for him, he hopes.

“The qualification is the foundation upon which my future rests. I am the first employee at my current place of work to become a chartered accountant, but my dream is to go much, much further. My long-term goal is to become auditor general of Ghana Audit Service, the supreme audit institution in my country.”

His desire to study has still not been dampened. He would like to go on to study law in the future to further broaden his knowledge as well as his professional and social networks.

"If I achieve my goals, it will be because of the bursary I received from ICAEW Foundation.”

Samuel Antwi Boasiako, age 27

Born in Akumadan, a small village known for its tomato farms, in the Ashanti region, he is currently the portfolio manager at CADS Contract and Services, a commercial real estate company, in Accra.

When Boasiako applied to university he chose two courses. He was accepted on the management education course but not the accounting one, which was his preference. Once he had graduated

from the College of Technology at the University of Education, Winneba in 2017, he decided to study accountancy, albeit informally.“I had no funds to pay for tuition so I just bought the books and studied for the four papers by myself. I passed all my exams and graduated in November. I consider the bursary a gift, not only from ICAEW Foundation but also from God.”

Boasiako gained the ICAEW Foundation bursary after he was judged the ‘overall best student in quantitative techniques’ – one of the subjects he had taught himself. Out of the blue, the Institute of Chartered Accountants, Ghana (ICAG) told him that he had been selected as a potential beneficiary of an ICAEW Foundation bursary. The bursary was confirmed in January 2018.

“Getting such good marks came as a complete surprise. I’ve now learnt that the profession offers opportunities to people from all sorts of backgrounds, as long as they are willing to work hard.”

Despite all the initial obstacles for Boasiako in studying accountancy his goal now is to become a “top accounting and finance executive at a big organisation. I pray it will be at Google or the World Bank.”

He says the bursary has set him on the path to realising his dreams. “Immediately after the award, I got my first paying job, where I am still working. The benefits have been immense.

“In my part of the world, when one person’s life is touched in this way, the multiplier effect is actually beyond imagination.”

Augustine Acheampong, age 27

From  Kumasi, in the Ashanti Region of Southern Ghana. He has a BSc in accounting education from the University of Education, Winneba.

Acheampong first heard of the Institute of Chartered Accountants Ghana (ICAG) when he was in secondary school. He saw a banner for ICAG in his local town, where he would go to sell things to pay for his education. So when a representative from ICAG went to his university to give a talk, he attended. At the time “the costs were prohibitive, so I was unable to enrol”.

He continued with his education, but kept coming back to the idea of accountancy so in 2017, a friend paid for his registration and subscription fees, and with his own savings he had enough to pay for the examination fees and books.

“I took the four papers for Level 1 in November 2017, and passed them all. However, I had to stop at that point because I couldn’t afford to pay my university fees and ICAG costs. I decided to concentrate on my degree course, but kept my hope that I would one day be able to return to accountancy.”

A few weeks after passing his exams he received a call from ICAG informing him of the ICAEW Foundation bursary that would help him continue his accountancy studies with the ICAG. The scholarship came through in time for him to sit his exams in May 2018. He passed them all.

“The scholarship has transformed my situation. I thank God and those responsible for funding and distributing the bursary with all my heart. Without it, I would never have finished my course. It paid for my tuition fees, my books, even my graduation costs. Without the grant, my hopes would have stood no chance of becoming reality. I feel I have a future I would never have had. Now I need a job with an accountancy firm so that I can complete my training and become a fully chartered accountant.”