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Training      

One of our most important service offerings is staff strengthening and training. With a huge shortage of skilled people in South Africa we understand the importance of training people in order to uplift the country.

Our training services include:

  • donor compliance
SustainAbility Solutions Africa understands the necessity of grantees being held accountable by their funders on reporting and financial matters. Such requirements are often put forward in a funding agreement or contract between funder and grantee.

SustainAbility Solutions Africa can either assist the pro-active funder to make sure that their recipients understand all requirements, or the recipient that recognizes that its program and financial staff need strengthening and training.

Each training event normally includes an organizational assessment in order to tailor the training as much as possible to address the specific donor requirements.
  • accounting
With the responsibility of backoffice administration for several NGO clients SustainAbility Solutions Africa has in-depth understanding of typical issues related to NGO accounting.

Beside our day-to-day advisory to clients on accounting matters we also give training to clients who need to build skills in accounting packages and accounting in general.

Upon request we will provide you with further details on our tailored packages.
  • audit preparation
All of SustainAbility Solutions Africa’s staff have financial backgrounds of which most of them have extensive experience in either internal or external auditing. We understand what an external grant auditor will require from the recipient. This makes SSA a very suitable training partner for you. Our training package will cover areas from the set up of a planning up to background on how to reconcile your financial statements.


We have developed a unique donor compliance training package. This generally involves a two-day training course specifically focused on the relevant USG body (e.g. USAID, NIH, CDC) during which we thoroughly discuss applicable laws and guidance such as:

  • relevant OMB’s such as A21, A122 and A110
  • Standard Provisions and
  • Cooperative Agreement  / Grant contract
  • 45 CFR 74
  • 22 CFR 226
  • FAR 31.2
  • ADS 303
  • Guidelines for non-US recipient contracted audits
  • A133

Upon request we can provide you with references of our clients.

Please refer below for an example of a training agenda for our Internal Controls Under the Revised "Green Book" course:

Green Book Agenda

US Government Audits      

Through our US-based CPA firm, SustainAbility Solutions P.C. we are able to offer special purpose A-133 or "Yellow Book" audits. Many USG recipients are required to have an audit performed within 9 months of their financial year end. SustainAbility Solutions P.C. staff understand the 22 CFR 226 and 45 CFR 74.26 audit requirements and can assist certain recipients with this mandatory requirement.

 

Organisational Sustainability      

Sustainability is an organization’s ability to define a relevant mission, follow sound management practices, and develop diversified income sources to ensure long-term continuity of quality, community-oriented services. It is also the creative and ongoing processes which organizations engage in to sustain their programs over the long term, after initial funding has ended.

Long-term survival and sustainability is critical for an NGO in being able to reach its target clientele and cover administrative and other costs. While social goals of reaching the poorest and those in need, and poverty alleviation are valid, sustainability - standing on one’s own feet - is as true for families in need as for the NGO itself!

Sustainability of NGO’s has internal and external implications - internal, in terms of deposit and savings mobilization, financial performance, staff motivation, loan and administrative costs, etc.; external, in terms of availability of funds, grants for community organizing and training etc.

Besides being efficient and self-sufficient, sustainability goals for an NGO also have other benefits - attracting external financial investment, satisfying any funder reporting requirements if any, building trust among its clients and supporting institutions (including donors).

As described above there are plenty of issues NGO’s have to deal with when it comes to sustainability. As the name already implies, SustainAbility Solutions Africa offers sustainability advisory services as part of our service delivery.

For many major funders sustainability implies:

  • Comprehensive programming

–        Linkages with multiple program objectives

–        Creating synergy amongst programs

  • Development of technical competence

–        Human capacity

–        Management systems

–        Infrastructure

–        Relationships with government programs

–        Financial independence

  • Capacity building
  • Technical assistance
  • Quality of service

–        Meeting client’s needs

–        Timely

–        Systems in place to measure services

Strategic monitoring / capacity building on M&E skills

 

 OUR APPROACH:

Sustainability Solutions Africa believes that there are four major key elements when developing a sustainability plan. These are:

-          Flexibility

-          Pragmatism

-          Practicality

-          Top down & bottom up

This is made visual in the following figures:

Presentation AED v2a

Fig. 1 Approach on Sustainability

 

Sustainability can only be achieved when top management, middle management and staff communications on an ongoing basis, transparently in such a way the optimal teamwork is achieved.

This process is re-iterative and should be supported by all staff.

Presentation AED v2b

Fig. 2 Achieving Goals

SustainAbility Solutions Africa identifies the following components as part of the ‘circle of life’  when it comes to sustainability:

Presentation AED v2c

Fig. 3 Circle of Life

Based on the top down & bottom up interaction this results in the following ‘grid’ that forms the basis of our interviews when developing a sustainability plan.

Presentation AED v2d

Fig 4. Competency Grid

Finally the complete plan of action continues with a ‘Strength-Weakness-Opportunity-Threat’ analysis. This analysis will result in an identification of maximum 3 objectives, agreed upon by management and staff in order to be fully supported and feasible to achieve. These objectives will be split into tasks for departments as well as sub-tasks per employee (where applicable) with specific measurable (SMART) criteria. Where needed plans can be adjusted after reflection. When objectives are met, new objectives should be identified.

 

Presentation AED v2e

Fig. 5 Plan of Action

Financial Reviews / Pre-award Assessments      
Increasingly more and more donors require assurance on the capacity and performance of their grantees. This type of assurance can be split into two sections:
  • pre-award (prior to the grant-giving)
  • post-award (during/after expenditure of the grant)

Pre-award

Because funding organizations are often negatively exposed in the media in cases of fraud at their grantees, donors have the increased tendency to have pre-award assessments performed. These assessments focus mainly on the financial and procedural capacity of the organization which gives insight on areas such as procurement, banking, expenses, authorization, structures, assets and so on. By identifying issues the prospective grantee is provided with a useful assessment and supports the grant-giver in its decision. SSA provides the client (donor or recipient) with an in-depth report on findings and recommendations.

Post-award

Many grants do not require an audit as such or are so small that an official audit would not be cost effective. The cost of an audit is much higher than a financial review. However, from an accountability point of view (for both donor to the public but grantee to their stakeholders as well) some sort of an assessment during or at the end of the project is deemed useful. For the donor this can be a follow-up on the pre-award assessment: up to what extent has the grantee followed up the recommendations, are there new issues to be reported or are the expenses reported on accurate? Although this assessment does not provide an audit opinion and therefore legally less binding, our clients can still expect an in-depth review. Generally we carry out the following:
  • reconciliations (e.g. fund accountability statement, bank, cash)
  • substantive testing of expenses
  • testing of policies and procedures
  • compliance with grant terms and conditions
  • issuing of a report including recommendation


Selection of (sub) Recipients and monitoring

One of the major strengths of SSA is its in-depth understanding of organisational and financial set-up combined with specific donor rules and regulations. It is for this reason that we have assisted many of our clients on selection of recipients and sub-recipients. If not carried out properly a prime recipient runs an enormous risk, possibly being held liable if there is mismanagement or maybe even fraud at the (sub) recipient.

Once this process has been successfully concluded and the prime and sub-recipient have signed an agreement, SSA can take up the monitoring in terms of finances but also on the more programmatic side. SSA takes a holistic approach and believes that finance is closely interlinked with program objectives and results. Having a proper understanding of both is therefore imperative for an excellent service delivery.

USAID AND CDC TRAINING

Introduction

SustainAbility Solutions Africa (SSA) is proud to offer training on United States Government (USG) Health and Human Services (HHS) Centers for Disease Control (CDC) as well as USAID funding rules and regulations.

The requirements associated with managing USG grants and cooperative agreements can sometimes be a source of major frustration to recipient finance, technical and management staff. However, we believe that such frustration is primarily due to a simple lack of understanding of the financial and compliance requirements that are really not that difficult to meet – if – they are presented and explained in a clear and logical manner.

SSA has successfully provided training to over a thousand recipient and audit staff who seek to properly manage or audit USG funding. This training has been provided to recipient and audit organizations receiving/auditing HHS/CDC, USAID and MCC funding in Southern, East and West Africa as well as in Europe.

The training is usually conducted over two consecutive days with a possible third day depending on the needs of the recipient organizations. It is our experience that – considering the amount of detail that first time recipients need to absorb – any additional training or strengthening is better achieved by working directly with recipient staff in their office environment.

What topics are discussed?

The experienced training facilitator will use tailored powerpoint presentations, group exercises, team scenario analysis and live question and answer sessions to explain and clarify the most relevant issues (.e.g., timekeeping, travel, cost share, joint and common (indirect) costs, cost principles, approval processes, audit findings and recommendations, sustainability, appeal processes, etc).

The material is presented and discussed in a lively manner to ensure comprehension and retention.

An example of a training agenda looks as follows:

USG 2-day Course Agenda

The workshop facilitator will encourage participants to raise problems they are having and to ask questions that will help them clarify/resolve their unique and individual challenges.

We include below indicative issues that are covered in the training:

1. Introduction to the roles and responsibilities of the USG/Recipient officials who play a major part in the successful implementation/completion of the project.

Specific issues:

        • Who must I contact when prior approval is required?
        • How can I apply for possible additional funding if I am achieving my targets?
        • Who can help me with financial management questions?
        • Who can approve / change my targets and budget?
        • How do I carry over funding to the next year and who approves this?

2. HHS/CDC Grants Policy Statement review

The Notice of Award will refer to the HHS/CDC Grants Policy Statement (GPS) as an authoritative document that needs to be understood and complied with.  The facilitator will explain and cover the most important parts of this document so that it’s contents and requirements become clear.

This session will allow groups discussion during which it is expected that both financial as well as program staff share their experiences in working with GPS requirements.

Specific issues:

        • What requirements are there for an application budget?
        • What happens in a Business Management Review?
        • How will CDC assess my Financial and other Management systems?
        • What  specific requirements apply to my Notice of Award?
        • What terms and conditions flow down to my sub-recipients?
        • How do I meet my cost share objectives?
        • When do I as a foreign recipient need to be audited?

3. Cost Principles

During this session SSA discusses the various cost categories that form part of the rules under either OMB-A122, OMB A-21, OMB A-87 or FAR 31.2. We will assess which rules apply to the different participating organizations to avoid confusion for the participants. There will also be an in-depth discussion on the three absolute fundamental cost concepts of Reasonability, Allocability and Allowbility

Specific Issues:

        • Can I charge a staff function to the project?
        • How much can I increase salaries this year?
        • What needs to go on my timesheet if I only work part time on the project?
        • Can I charge overtime to the project?
        • Do I need to keep a log book for my project vehicle?
        • Can I buy new computers for my staff?
        • How much can we charge for travelling to the project sites?
        • Can we top up the salaries of the Government officials who work on our project?

4. Administrative requirements

During this session SSA discusses the various administrative requirements that form part of the rules under 45 CFR74. Much of the content/issues that form part of this authoritative document will have already been raised or discussed in previous sections. We will ensure that all relevant rules are covered.

Specific Issues:

        • Our funding is under “Special Award Conditions”. What does this mean?
        • What kind of certifications and representations do I need to give next year?
        • How do I know if my financial systems are compliant? What is required?
        • How much funding can I keep in my bank account?
        • What services and donations can I use to meet our cost share requirement?
        • How do I revise my programme and budget?
        • What happens during close-out of my project?
        • How do I need to account for program income?

5. Non-Federal Audits

This session covers the options and processes for meeting this very important requirement.  Most recipients will receive funding that triggers the need for this unique US Government-related audit.  The facilitator will explain how to understand the type of audit you must have and how to prepare for it. 

Earn CPE Credits

For Certified Public Accountants wanting to earn Continuing Professional Education Credits (‘CPE’), SustainAbility Solutions is registered with the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Michigan Association of Certified Accountants.  All participants will receive a certificate of attendance enabling you to claim 8 CPE credits for each day of the Workshop (for a total of 16 or 24 credits for the two or three days). No advance preparation is required.