Duquesne’s ‘Team Tanzania’ Delivers Accounting Assistance to Spiritans in Africa
When Spiritan schools in Tanzania needed help learning how to use accounting software, Duquesne University supplied the experts and the training.
University Controller Russ Grunebach, Manager of General and Research Accounting Samantha Dietrich Prasky and Palumbo-Donahue School of Business Dean Dr. Alan Miciak helped educators in the Spiritan schools of Bagamoyo, Tanzania, become more familiar and fluent with QuickBooks.
Designed as financial software for individuals unfamiliar with accounting, QuickBooks is widely used around the world. According to Prasky, their goal was to help the Education Ministry of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit's Tanzania Province use the software to create a financial reporting framework.
The group devoted more than a year to training through conference calls, but finally decided that an intensive, in-person workshop would be necessary. "Team Tanzania," as they referred to themselves, had a tough task and just over a week to accomplish their goal.
They needed to show that QuickBooks can be used to keep records and create reports, but they also needed to be sure that the software could be adapted to the particular needs of the schools in Tanzania and that the personnel they were training would recognize what records are essential to maintain.
Team Tanzania worked closely with the Rev. Florentine Mallya, C.S.Sp., provincial councilor for education for Tanzania. Mallya was responsible for bringing the heads of the various Spiritan schools together in Bagamoyo for a strategic planning session and made all the other arrangements needed for workshop success.
When the workshop began, Team Tanzania quickly found common ground. "Many of the issues facing the schools in Tanzania are similar to the ones we face in the U.S.," Grunebach pointed out. "They even have similar tax laws with respect to worker classification issues and unrelated business income."
Like their U.S. counterparts, Prasky said that the Spiritan schools will be able to generate reports and consolidate them with those of other schools in the Province, thus providing the Spritans with the benefits of automated accounting and a more precise and complete financial picture of their educational operations.
"Before the trip, I knew that most of the records were being kept via Excel spreadsheets," Prasky explained. "I think it opened up their eyes to what can be done by using a true accounting software instead of spreadsheets."
According to Grunebach, the vision and planning that made the project possible came from Miciak. Calling the project "only the first step in what will take many months to roll out across the scope of Spiritan educational institutions in Tanzania," Miciak complimented Prasky and Grunebach, who, he said, "worked from morning to evening and even after dinner to continue building a functional system within our demanding timetable."