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  • Writer's pictureThabo Baseki

Accepting New Challenges and Learning New Skills

A few months ago, I published an article on my website which was directed to business owners (particularly those in the HR department). In that article, I outline four benefits among many that offering work to people with disabilities bring.

Few weeks later after the article was published on, I went to Botswana Innovation Hub for a technology-related conference, where I met Mr. Prathap Ganesharajah, who now is my employer. During an interview, he made it clear to me that as much as I want to make a living, I will also have to make business for the company. He offered me countless opportunities to network with colleagues as a way of creating a welcoming work environment for me, not to say anything about providing materials I need to be able to work effectively. This meant more than just in the office environment, but much time had to be spent in adjusting my geographic location, so I can move closer to the workplace, and much funding was spent on that.

Whenever I came to work, Prathap would always say, “I want you to see your life beyond disability, and I am going to make you big in the corporate world.” Following that, he assigned me to work on IFRS 17, despite my zero knowledge in accounting. In addition to that, I have been tasked to implement ESG (Environmental Social Governance) for insurance companies in my current job.

These two tasks proved to be challenging, but I made it a goal to meet the company halfway as they also try to assist me become an excellent example of inclusion. I looked up sources online as to which software is ideal for bookkeeping when blind, of which Microsoft Excel and CashManager were highly recommended.

The journey of learning IFRS 17 has been super amazing so far, learning different calculation methods such as risk assessment and cost of capital. I have also come to learn various kinds of investors and how to identify the right one for a particular business. Not because this is a requirement by my employer, but rather, because I am determined to implement IFRS 17, show accounting expertise from a blindness perspective, and earning the recognition of the first blind person to implement IFRS 17 as well as ESG.

I am thankful to Alpha Direct as a company for seeing the potential in me, for investing in developing me, and for the mentorship that I receive at a professional level.

The author with his colleagues at Alpha Direct
The author with his colleagues at Alpha Direct

Accounting and finance have a collective influence, whether at a personal level, social level, and in the corporate world. It helps provide solutions to simple as well as multifaceted efforts in small/medium-sized businesses and large enterprises. Though accounting is this significant in human life, there are not many blind/visually impaired people globally who are experts in this field. Therefore, my inspiration is to be among the prominent figures in this vital profession.

After completing my education, I began studying ways to provide services to businesses, organizations, and individuals. Out of that goal, Vision in Word was born. The name Vision in Word reflects the idea that I must rely on speech synthesizers to envision what is seen through sight. Having this business in place would mean I would have to know how much I am spending on the software that I use to go about my business activities, how much I am pricing per service, and all other costs associated with my activities.

To establish my business, I had to rely on digital skills I obtained from Freedom Scientific (FS) – a company that specializes in producing products and services that are designed specifically for blind people. IN addition to that, I learnt audio podcast production, blogging, provide transcriptions services and more. I continue to demonstrate an ability to overcome obstacles and challenges despite my disability. One of the biggest achievements I rejoice over is the fact that my name has been listed on FS’s website as a certified individual in one of their programs (Job Access With Speech), which required a candidate to have scored 80% or higher to have this opportunity. In this program, I learned how to use Microsoft Office, the internet, virtual conferencing platforms and a number of other products.

I have the power to bring diversity in my thinking and innovation in my approach to business management concept application. Hence the reason I feel I can take on the challenge of being the first blind person in Botswana to learn accounting and take on bigger assignments, such as implementing IFRS 17 and ESG in Alpha Direct as an insurance company. Performing basic tasks such as invoicing clients pushed me out of my comfort zone to learn more about accounting. I learned the lesson to consider the accounting part of things before agreeing to anything or making any decision. Studying IFRS 17 helped me appreciate numbers, and activated my curiosity to want to learn more in the bookkeeping world.

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