Learning with InsideNGO: Apollo Ekelot, FCCA, CPA


October 05, 2016

Learning with InsideNGO: Apollo Ekelot, FCCA, CPA

Apollo Ekelot of UNHCR (center), with InsideNGO CEO Tom Dente (at left) and Jean-Paul Djiatsa of Helen Keller International.

By Elizabeth Walsh

Director, Communications and Marketing InsideNGO

Our “Learning with InsideNGO” blog posts profile development professionals who have taken advantage of our many learning opportunities. In this post, we interview Apollo Ekelot of the UNHCR in Kenya. Apollo already had his FCCA and CPA certifications when he decided to enroll in InsideNGO’s Certificate in USAID Assistance Management program. What motivated him to go down this learning pathway? We caught up with Apollo in Nairobi and asked him.

Q: How many years have you been working in development?

A: I have been in development since 1999. Almost 17 years.

Tell us a little bit about your career path.

By training I am an accountant. I worked in accounting roles in the beginning of my career. I started as a credit supervisor in a microfinance institution in Uganda, then I moved to SLUM in Uganda, serving vulnerable communities in the slum of Kampala. In 2004, I moved to Christian Children’s Fund now it is called ChildFund—as a finance and administration officer, for two and a half years, before moving to World Vision where I spent a year as a financial analyst. Then I returned to ChildFund, first working as a finance manager for the Uganda operation, then moving to the ChildFund Africa Region and becoming the head of finance for ChildFund Kenya. In 2015, I joined UNHCR.

Tell us a little bit about your current job responsibilities.

I am a project control officer for UNHCR. I oversee relationships with partner agencies. UNHCR has many partners who implement programs on its behalf. I manage those relationships, overseeing partner selection, quality control, functional reporting, sanctioning disbursements, and managing partner audits and capacity building besides other responsibilities.

How did you learn about InsideNGO’s Certificate in USAID Assistance Management?

I learned about the certificate program through the InsideNGO network—I was a member while working at ChildFund, I had the relevant experience and I had done all the required courses (USAID Rules & Regulations, Financial Management, and Procurement), and I had remained in touch via e-mails and would look at the website.

What was your motivation for pursuing the certificate?

When I was with ChildFund, we were managing USAID projects. We were looking for more funding but realized we needed increased competencies to do that. I had developed a lot of my knowledge with InsideNGO… Earning the certificate was the highest level of recognition for all of that learning.

Tell us a little bit about your experience—when did you begin, how did you take the workshops, how did you find the process, how was the certificate exam?

I did the workshops in Kenya. I started in 2012. The workshops brought me new information, and I left each workshop changed—there was added value to who I was and what I knew. My first InsideNGO workshop was USAID Proposal Development: From RFA/RFP to Proposal. After taking that, I won a proposal.

I did USAID Rules & Regulations for my next course. This course breaks down the rules, simplifies them, and teaches you to prioritize what is more important. This knowledge is knowledge that anyone would wish to have. I then took the Procurement and Financial Management workshops in 2014.

I completed the program by using the website for the certification exam, and gave myself time for all the studying needed to prepare for the exam—that was important. The exam was a little taxing but I had prepared for it. Most importantly, InsideNGO gives you all the information and support you need, so this [earning certification] should not be a problem for anyone wishing to enroll in the program.

What would you tell a colleague who is considering starting to pursue this opportunity?

I will certainly encourage colleagues to take this course. It is a great opportunity for one to demonstrate they have the knowledge, skills, and judgment sufficient for one to effectively manage USAID grants and cooperative agreements.

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