Who says accountants can't count?

08-02-2011

When writing the last piece, I was reminded of a small project I had been asked to go and see some time back. A group of women had been formed into a cooperative, as is the fashion here, and were using money that they had been given from a government fund to run a small shop. At this point, to protect the innocent, I should emphasize here that this project wasn't one of ours.

The shop by all accounts had been doing nicely until it seemed to have run out of money. On investigation, the women had met and decided that rather than have the money in the bank, they would rather use it to buy a sack of beans each to go and sell for themselves. I had difficulty criticising their business sense, but the lady from the government fund that I was helping wasn't at all amused.

In finding out what had happened to the money in the bank, it transpired that the lady who had been appointed as the group treasurer could neither read nor write. The government lady was aghast and accused the treasurer of not being able to count either. But the treasurer stood her ground and retorted defiantly "I can so count - one, two three, four ..."

The golden rule in Rwanda: expect anything and be surprised at nothing.