As Financial System Advances Professionals Rush to Follow

Most of the time, business owners hire professionals that are trustworthy and reliable. And most of the time, these professionals may lack practical knowledge even if they have some understanding in core academic areas. For years, CEOs in Ethiopia have been putting someone they trust to help them understand and manage their company’s financials. Someone who knows the business, can read through financial reports, and turn it into information needed to make critical decisions. This is where the CFOs come into the scene and the companies who train them, reports FASIKA TADESSE, FORTUNE STAFF WRITER.

Muluken Nega is the managing partner of ZANA Landscape Design & Contractor, a company that engages in landscaping and interior design. He recently received an email requesting him and his company to take part in training introduced for Chief Financial Officer (CFO) 100 and Executives programmes.

The training was brought by RENEW Strategies, a US-based company that was established in 2007 and engages with dealing origination, due diligence, structuring, closing, monitor and evaluation and consulting. Now it has started training for CFO 100 and Executive’s Programs in Ethiopia. Over 30   executives were graduated as the first batch including Muluken.

He accepted the offer and joined the training given on every Tuesday morning for two and a half hours. He took the training that was divided into 13 sessions. Each training session comprises of one topic for one week. The major issues were the habit for information, good governance, preparing and designing different strategies.

“I feel like I got my MBA,” said Muluken who received the accredited certificates after the three months training.

After the training, Muluken claims that he was able to invent new trends at his company including designing a strategic plan, annual management plan, communication style and marketing strategies.

“We previously had only business plans. Now, we can set long and short terms plans every month,” said Muluken. To acquire, the above skills, Muluken paid 20,000 Br to the company.

These days, just like Muluken, many companies have become interested in training for their personal and professional growth. Doing so helps them move together with the fast-moving world and globalisation, according to trainers in the field.

“The number of companies that have come to take training has increased during the past five years,” said Assefa Kassa, manager of Addis Chamber of Commerce & Sectoral Association (AACCSA) Training Institute, which has been training professionals from the business community and state-owned enterprises for the past 40 years.

“I feel like I got my MBA,” said Muluken who received the accredited certificates after the three months training.

Communication skills, executive and leadership development, financial management and accounting, management and human resource development, international trade, marketing and customer service, project and program management and logistics and procurement management are the major areas of the training given by the Institue.

Addis Chamber Training Institute (ACTI) offers demand-driven business training to members of the local business community to help them acquire the necessary knowledge and skills that lead to success in today’s challenging business environment. On average, it enrols 3,000 trainees a year.

“We mainly focus on filling gaps with the lessons we give,” said Assefa, whose Institute’s two training hubs are located in Mexico and Lideta area close to the Lideta Cathedral Church.

The major categories of training delivered by ACTI are regular training; regular training at customers’ premises; and customised training either at the chamber’s training hall or the customers’ premises. For the training, the Institute recruits trainers from government institutions, consultancy firms and practitioner trainers.

Most of the time the Institute delivers training based on the demand from its clients, according to Assefa.

But these days the trainees are applying for top-level executive training, more specifically leadership training.

“Up-to-date and recurrent training for financial executives is a must,” said Zemedeneh Nigatu, chairman of Fairfax Africa Fund LLC.

This is against the previous trend of believing that financial heads in Ethiopia put someone they trust to help them understand and manage their company’s financial matters. It was the major gap for companies to get right.

These basic skills were big misses in the financial sector of the country, according to Matthew Davis CEO of RENEW, and this initiated them to open their training centre in Ethiopia, targeting financial managers in the business.

Someone who understands the business, can read through financial reports, and analyse it to make critical decisions. And this is where the CFO comes into the scene.

For these skills and expertise, companies and institutions which seek such experts are increasing. One example is Emnet Demessie, finance head of Luna & Export Slaughterhouse PlC, operator of Fresh Corner, a retailer of meat, vegetables and fruits with its nine branches across the city. It also engages with catering, slaughterhouse and juice bar businesses.

Emnet, who heads 12 financial executives at her company, took the three months training to fill the gap in her understanding of finance.

Since after the training, the company can manage to have a short and long-term plan, according to Emnet.

“We started sitting down every month for budgeting and set a monthly target after the training,” said Emnet. “After setting the target, all staff members of the company try to meet the goal.”

Eyasu Pawlos also took the training with the main aim of acquiring a skill. Then, Eyasu hopes, he would be able to give better decisions and consult top level managements and board executives of a company to make a crucial decision.

He is a finance manager of Tebita Ambulance Pre-Hospital Emergency Medical Service, a company which provides ambulances for emergencies in a paid agreement. Tebita was established in 2008 and has transported 30,000 people who were in an emergency.

Eyasu explains that he got three major things from the training; better understanding of managing finance, budgeting and how to handle the entire finance department.

These basic skills were big misses in the financial sector of the country, according to Matthew Davis CEO of RENEW, and this initiated them to open their training centre in Ethiopia, targeting financial managers in the business.

“We were inspired to launch the programs based on problems we saw in companies here in Ethiopia,” said Matthew.

The training launched by RENEW mainly focuses on enabling executives to identify risks before they become unavoidable and make corrections to avoid cash shortages, plan, build budgets and set up systems to control a company’s most critical asset – cash.

The CFO 100 program is a joint effort of RENEW, Global Affairs Canada and the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) to increase the credibility, quantity and quality of CFOs and finance managers in Ethiopia, according to Matthew.

Not only RENEW but also Addis Chamber Institute gives attention for financial training. And since last year, the Institute added training on Integrated Financial Management System (IFMS) to its list of training categories following the demand from the business community.

The training held by the chamber is conducted for five half days from Monday to Friday. It gives priority to member institutions and charges 20pc more for non-member institutions.

The demand for the training is not driven only by the interest of the trainees, according to Zemedeneh. Rather the ever-growing economy of the country that is primarily led by the private sector and the entrant of many foreign investments, which demand neat and efficient financial statements, played a major role in the growth of such training centres.

“On top of that, since IFMS is to be mandatory down the line, the request for the training will be more in demand,” said Zemedeneh.

The country is not in the same state that it has been in some 20 years ago and will not stay the same for the coming 20 more years, according to Zemedeneh.

Assefa from Chamber supports Zemedeneh’s assertion.

“At some point, accession into the World Trade Organisation (WTO) will be realised and companies have to walk hand in hand with globalisation,” said Assefa.

For the current Ethiopian year, the ACTI plans 53 training programs including IFMS. On the other hand, RENEW wishes to provide training for another four years.

“But we hope even longer. It all depends on the results,” said Matthew.



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