It was a landmark win for SNV Uganda at the 2017 FiRe Awards ceremony, emerging overall winner of the FiRe Awards under the NGO category and scooping the International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS) special award for the third time in three consecutive years. SNV first won the IPSAS award in 2015, emerging overall winner of the coveted award which was introduced by the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Uganda in 2015 to recognise public sector entities that use the International Public Sector Accounting Standards in the preparation of their financial statements. It is also the second time since the FiRe Awards were introduced in 2014 that SNV is emerging overall winner of the FiRe Awards under the NGO category.
SNV Uganda Country Director Michael O’Mahony shares his insights on what makes SNV standout from the crowd.
Question: Can you shed some light on what it is like to lead an organisation like SNV and what kind of culture you promote amongst your staff?
I lead a team of staff who are all experts in specific fields, with in-depth understanding of the local context in which we work. Our staff comes from diverse cultural and technical backgrounds, with a majority being Ugandan nationals. SNV is a result driven organisation, we believe in giving our customers (donor organisations supporting our work) value for their money by ensuring that we deliver on our commitments and obligations. This results-driven culture is deeply ingrained in our work and each staff member works towards this goal by setting personal goals that are then measured during the course of the year. Because of this culture, my work as a Country Director is made easy since staff are self-monitoring and evaluating themselves to ensure that they support the organisation to deliver on its targets.
Question: What motivated an NGO like SNV to start using the International Public Sector Accounting Standards in your financial reports?
As an organisation that is largely funded by donor agencies, transparency over the use of the donor funds is critical because, without credibility and trust from them, we would not be able to sustain our work in Uganda. SNV is currently supported by over 13 donors and it is important to have precise estimates of income and expenditure and be able to report to our donor partners in real time. Using the IPSAS framework has greatly helped us achieve this. IPSAS has also helped us improve our overall programme management because IPSAS supports the results-based management approach that we use.
Question: You emerged the overall winner under the NGO category. What did you do differently that made you win?
Every year we strive to improve and be the best in all areas of our operations. Results without evidence are no results at all. We have to be visible and these results should be able to speak for themselves. I believe that’s what came through in our Annual Report this year.
Question: You have been in Uganda since 1989, what are you doing now that is different from what you did then?
SNV has evolved over the years from being a volunteer organisation sending Dutch Volunteers to Africa and providing funding to government institutions to working as a capacity building organisation that partners with grass root organisations to escalate development solutions at the lower local government level. What is unique about our way of working is that we don’t come with tailor-made solutions, rather we simply support people to find their own solutions which in the long run is more sustainable than simply giving them money. This approach has helped us expand our work to over 100 districts with minimal staffing. Because we are driven by the need to ensure sustainability of our work, we have built the capacity of over 90 local organisations who are driving change in their communities and creating jobs for others.
I strongly believe that demand-driven approaches, carefully fashioned to suit the local context and inspired by a robust global knowledge base like we have, are what is needed to realise the required breakthroughs in view of local needs and global challenges.
To download the SNV Uganda: 2016 Annual Report