60 second interview – Chapa Kunda

Chapa Kunda, general accountant at FINCA Zambia, talks to Student accountant about his inspiration for a career in finance, and his ambitions for the future

This article was first published in May 2008 in Student Accountant

ACCA student Chapa Kunda began his accountancy career as soon as he left high school. ‘My career choice was inspired by my father, who is an accountant and was also an ACCA student,’ explains Chapa. ‘I developed my interest in the subject by talking to him and by reading his student magazines. My first step was to enrol on a BA degree course in accounting and finance at the Zambia Centre for Accountancy Studies. The course was supported by the Athlone Institute for Technology in Ireland, and so I received a partial scholarship from Irish Aid. After successfully completing the first year, I opted to transfer from the degree course to ACCA, but without sponsorship I could not continue to study full time and so had to find a job.’

Chapa first worked for a law firm in Lusaka before moving on to The Public Service Pensions Fund: ‘I was still supporting myself in my ACCA studies, and began to realise how difficult it is to work full time and study for a professional qualification, especially without employer support. I took temporary jobs for about a year while continuing to look for positions which would progress my career. In 2003, I became an assistant accountant at Queen Trade Investments Ltd, before joining FINCA Zambia Ltd in 2004.’

FINCA Zambia – the Foundation for International Community Assistance – is a subsidiary of FINCA International, a micro-finance institution operating in more than 20 countries worldwide. FINCA provides micro-credit and savings services – such as ‘village banks’ and personal loans – to individuals and entrepreneurs who normally cannot access the financial services offered by mainstream institutions such as banks.

‘I joined FINCA as a senior accountant, and was promoted to general accountant a year later, continuing to self-study and progress slowly but surely through my ACCA exams. I left FINCA in 2006 to join Dunavant Zambia Ltd but rejoined FINCA the following year, again as a general accountant.

‘My responsibilities at FINCA are extremely varied. They range from managing tax planning and compliance to supervising staff performance, and include supervising the general ledger, reviewing the monthly financial accounts and balance sheet, managing project-related work such as implementation of new accounting and internal control systems and procedures, and coordinating external audits. I also provide support to users of SIEM, a bespoke software package designed for microfinance institutions.

‘Every employer and accounts department is slightly different, as is every accounting role. For example, at Dunavant I was more involved in generating transactions, whereas now I review the transactions made by my staff. I am also much more involved in the running of the accounting system and so have to work closely with the IT department.’

Chapa’s steady progress through his ACCA exams has certainly helped his career development, and also helped him determine his future career path: ‘When being considered for my current job, my ACCA studies were definitely an important factor, especially as FINCA Zambia is currently preparing to become a deposit-taking institution, and therefore has to comply with Bank of Zambia regulations, with which I am familiar. In terms of my own progress, I will be taking my final exams in June 2008, and will then complete the Research and Analysis Project in order to add the Oxford Brookes University BSc degree in accounting to my CV. I aim to achieve membership by December 2008, and this will also allow me to change my status with ZICA (the Zambia Institute for Chartered Accountants) from Licentiate to Associate.

‘During my studies, I have developed a specific interest in finance, and so I want to build my career further by pursuing specific qualifications which will enhance my skills in finance, investment, and financial analysis. My goal is to be the chief financial officer of FINCA Zambia by the time I am 30, and then go on to run my own business.’


"I opted to transfer from the degree course to ACCA, but without sponsorship I could not continue to study full time and so had to find a job"