The Women’s Bakery is proud to announce our partnership with Acacia, an accounting firm in Kigali, Rwanda, that works primarily with small NGOs and businesses.
Prior to 2016, TWB did all business accounting in-house, including petty cash, account reconciliation, employee taxes, income taxes, etc.
The reason for this was two-fold 1) financially we could not afford to hire an accounting firm or an accountant and 2) the number of transactions and taxes were minimal. However, as we began to grow, the number of employees, applicable taxes, transactions, and sources of revenue all increased quickly taking up staff hours and exposing us to more opportunities for error and non-compliance.
We decided to hire Acacia for three reasons:
1) The number of transactions were still low enough that it wouldn’t warrant a full-time position,
2) We didn’t know how to ask the right questions to ensure we would hire an honest and well trained accountant, and
3) Hiring a firm with a solid reputation would hopefully ensure accountability and well trained staff.
For all of those starting their own small businesses and curious about how a simple accounting system works in this region of the world, here is how we do it:
- TWB Senior Management withdraws cash from local ATMs for all petty cash purchases (this is how most of our expenses happen in Rwanda).
- Each week all TWB staff are issued petty cash and sign-out the funds.
- At the end of each week all receipts and change are reconciled for each staff member.
- All receipts are glued into an accounting book and given a transaction number.
- All numbers correspond to an expense tracker in excel, which also captures type of currency, exchange rates, detailed description of expense, date, employee accountable, budget categories., etc.
- At the end of the month TWB sends the excel expense tracker, bank statements, and a simple revenue and expense excel that outlines the cashflow in our Remera bakery (the only bakery we actually own) to Acacia.
- From this, Acacia enters all of our expenses into Quickbooks, prepares and submits templates for employee income tax, employee social security, and withholdings taxes on the Rwanda Revenue Authority website.
- Once submitted, TWB is then sent acknowledgement receipts with a reference number, which allows us to pay each type of tax through our online bank account.
It has been both interesting and educational to bridge gaps and set-up a simple, but effective accounting system with Acacia.
The best part about working in a start-up is the steep learning curve. I can certainly say that I learned a lot setting up a business’ accounting system in Rwanda. It also reminds me that anything is possible.
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