Lusekelo Mwafulilwa is a financial accountant who is partially qualified by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants. A resident of Zambia, she completed a remote volunteer assignment in the summer of 2021 supporting small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Zambia through the USAID Zambia Enterprise Development and Growth Enhanced (EDGE) Activity, implemented by ACDI/VOCA.
Read our Q&A with Lusekelo below and learn more about how to volunteer with ACDI/VOCA.
Q: What motivated you to volunteer to support SMEs in Zambia?
A: Career-wise, I’ve been seeking a role in business development. I came across the USAID/Zambia EDGE Activity and was naturally excited about working with various SMEs. My core objective was to contribute positively to the continuous growth of the SMEs by sharing my practical knowledge in accounting and business operations.
Q: What challenges did you experience during your assignment?
A: Some of the SMEs did not maintain financial records, or they did maintain them, but they were lacking valuable information. Furthermore, I had no professional experience in the agricultural sector, as my accounting experience is in the engineering and mining sectors.
“Some things may seem easy and straightforward from your view, but other people will value your input.”— Volunteer Lusekelo Mwafulilwa
Q: How did you and the SMEs overcome the challenges?
A: We provided training material to the SMEs and sufficiently trained them in the fundamental importance of bookkeeping, statutory obligations, segregation of official duties, and preparing accounting records.
As for my lack of professional experience in the agriculture sector, I relied on the SMEs to share information by asking questions; my family is in the farming business, and I utilized some of the information they had shared with me and spent time researching. The USAID/Zambia EDGE Activity team was equally helpful, as they had an understanding of the sector; they did provide guidance on what questions to ask.
Q: Tell us more about your volunteer experience.
A: I loved working with the SMEs. It was interesting to listen to their business strategies and learn more about their business. Working with the SMEs aided me to learn to think outside the box and, in addition, carry out my own research to gain an understanding of the business. The SMEs appreciated what we had to share, and they were going to start making changes to how they run their businesses.
Q: How will this experience impact your career development?
A: My research skills have progressively improved. I used to spend time researching about the various SMEs and what their competitors were doing differently. Moreover, my presentation and communication skills have improved. I was required to prepare training material and train the various SMEs.