Working alongside local farmers, the charity identifies the problems limiting agricultural production and finds appropriate solutions, such as control of crop pests, treatment of livestock diseases and water conservation.
But all this work would count for nothing if the charity was not able to manage its own finances.
Amanda Caine, a 32-year-old chartered accountant, arrived at FARM Africa in October 1999. What she found was a charity in crisis, with an overdraft, no statutory accounts and an audit delayed by six months. But in the space of 15 months Caine has transformed the finance function beyond recognition.
Within six weeks of her arrival at FARM Africa, she produced a set of accounts for audit. Amanda turned around cash flow from £98,000 to £2.1m by improving financial reporting to institutional donors.
She developed and implemented financial plans for a major restructuring of the organisation, involving drastically cutting overhead costs while effectively managing a rapidly rising income.
What’s more, Caine alerted the charity to impending massive financial liabilities overseas and proceeded to act quickly and decisively to limit damage under extremely troublesome conditions.
Caine has also travelled extensively throughout Africa to train and supervise staff on the ground and has broken down the barriers between departments to ensure organisation-wide financial responsibility.
Caine achieved all this, and much more, through her ability to analyse a problem quickly and through sheer hard work and determination to drive through a solution.
Charity work is never easy – the problems are many, the rewards can be few. In this category, the judges were looking for determination and resourcefulness.
As the judges put it, Caine did a good job ‘in bloody difficult circumstances’.