Abe Mirza is an American, fifty-nine years old and retired. He was trained as an accountant. In fact, he has three degrees in financial record keeping. And he has over twenty years of experience as a business executive.
After four years of retirement, he decided that it was time to give something back.
International Executive Service Corps On the Internet, he found an economic development organization, the International Executive Service Corps. This private, nonprofit group links volunteer experts and paid consultants with local business people in developing countries. It was established in the United States in 1964 as a Peace Corps for businesspeople.
In September, the International Executive Service Corps paid for Abe Mirza to travel to West Africa. He spent more than two months preparing for an intensive, two-week experience as a volunteer in Ghana. He went to Accra, the capital, to meet with bankers and businesspeople.
From his early meetings he learned that the bankers wanted the businesspeople to keep better financial records. So he taught major accounting methods to eighty businesspeople.
These were leaders of medium-sized businesses, like Home Food Processing and Cannery, a seller of palm oil and spices. Another example was All Pure Nature, a maker of shea butter for skin care and other products.
The businesses were large enough to be ready to export their goods. But they had not reached the level of record keeping that would permit them to develop a lending relationship with banks.
The owners all had the same need to understand international accounting rules. Accountants in Ghana and other countries are adopting a new system of financial reporting.
Abe Mirza had to provide a lot of information. He says it was like learning everything for a four-year college degree in one week. He not only showed the businesspeople how to present financial statements. He also showed them how, and why, banks look at the information.
Abe Mirza says he did a lot in his years as a businessman, but nothing compares to the feeling of satisfaction he got from his short time in Ghana.
And that's the VOA Special English Economics Report, written by Mario Ritter. For a link to the International Executive Service Corps, go to voaspecialenglish.com. You can also find transcripts and MP3 files of our reports. I'm Bob Doughty.