Researcher of the Month: David Mathuva- SACCOs Financial and Social Disclosures

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Background of yourself

I am a Doctoral Fellow at Strathmore Business School (SBS) where I also assist within the Research Office. My areas of interest are accounting and finance, with accounting taking 70% of it.  I have been teaching for the last 5 years.

I started off as a pioneer Graduate Assistant atStrathmore’s School of Management and Commerce (SMC) in 2008 where I was also pursuing Master of Commerce (M. Com). After graduating with an M.Com in Forensic Accounting in 2010, I began teaching accounting and finance subjects at both professional and undergraduate levels. At some point, I was appointed as the M.Com Programme administrator within SMC until 2012, when I took leave of absence for 2 years to gain some industry experience in forensic accounting and audit. I joined KPMG Kenya in 2012 as a Senior Consultant in the Forensic Services unit and was involved in a range of forensic-related assignments within the East African Region (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi). I left KPMG Kenya in 2014 to join SBS again, but this time as a Doctoral Fellow, a position that I hold to date.

Which Primary School and High school did you attend?

I attended Katyethoka Primary School in Kitui between 1989 and 1998. I managed to attain 520 out of 700 marks in the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) examination and was lucky to join St. Josephs Seminary in Mwingi in 1999. At St. Josephs Seminary, I attained an A minus in the Kenya Certificate Secondary Education (KCSE) national examination. After finishing my secondary schooling, and having emerged the best overall in KCSE at St. Josephs Seminary, I was called to teach at my former secondary school. At St. Josephs, I taught Computer Studies and Geography, a subject I really loved. Talk of those rocks (be it sedimentary, metamorphic, and igneous), I enjoyed taking students to the fields to demonstrate practically how those rocks and geographical physical features looked like. I taught for 5 months before joining Strathmore University as an undergraduate student in the Bachelor of Commerce (B.Com) programme.

How did you learn about Strathmore University?

I came to know about Strathmore University while I was teaching at St. Josephs Seminary. I met one of the B.Com students from Strathmore University, who was on a community attachment at the school. We got to talk and one of the things we discussed was the then, Guinness Strathmore Scholarship she had won to pursue her BCom degree. I got interested and chose to try my lack to receive the same scholarship in April 2004. I was called for a series of interviews and was subsequently taken in to pursue BCom which was fully sponsored by East African Breweries Limited (EABL). This meant forfeiting the chance I had also attained at the University of Nairobi. At Strathmore, I emerged the best overall student in the graduating class of 2008 and also won the Dean’s Award. It was during my life at Strathmore University that I developed interest and decided to pursue the graduate assistantship programme in 2008, a novel idea by Dean of SMC, Dr. David Wang’ombe.

What Research are you pursuing and what are your findings so far?

I am currently pursuing my PhD where I am researching; The Drivers of Financial and Social Disclosure Practices by Savings and Credit Co-operatives (SACCOs) in Kenya.

Since there are over 13,000 co-operatives and over 6,500 SACCOs in Kenya, my study focuses on the 215 SACCOs offering both back-office and front-office services as of 31 December 2013. For a while, studies in accounting with regard to disclosure have focused on listed, large, financial or private companies. I decided to examine the same concept with respect to SACCOs in Kenya, a sector which has contributed tremendously towards the economic and social welfare of its membership. Being the most vibrant and developed SACCO sector in Africa, SACCOs in Kenya have been said to perform dismally in terms of disclosure. My study aims at first and foremost, establishing the level of financial and social disclosure by SACCOs, secondly, to identify those drivers which explain the level of disclosures by SACCOs. Managerial perspectives are also sought to corroborate the results, which are largely from the audited annual reports of the SACCOs.

At this point, I have gathered and analyzed data for 212 SACCOs and have presented part of the results before a workshop for SACCO managers and Accountants organized by the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Kenya (ICPAK). You can view a summary of the presentation here:http://www.icpak.com/download.php?a_id=194&download=614. I have also been able to present part of the findings at the 12th World Congress of Accounting Educators and Researchers and at the SAAA & IAAER Biennial Conference.

Since accounting is about communicating the results of the economic activities by organizations, the study aims at communicating to SACCO users, annual reports about the current level of information provided. This will be useful in demonstrating how accountable (and to some extent, transparent) Kenyan SACCOs are. The study comes in the wake of a number of governance challenges Kenyan SACCOs are faced with and with the growth and dynamism experienced in the sector.

The study also aims at establishing a yardstick with which SACCOs are able to utilize communication through social engagement. The social reporting yardstick encompasses five broad areas covering member welfare, human resource welfare, products and services, community involvement and CSR and environmental conservation. The study also aims at informing SACCO regulators as to the current disclosure levels with a view towards informing decisions regarding optimal disclosure policies for SACCOs.

Challenges faced while conducting the PhD

A key challenge encountered in the course of my PhD studies was financial resources. It has really been a challenge having to finance both tuition and research stages of my PhD, but I am happy and thank God that I am almost done.

Aside from financial constraints, there has been a consistently low response rate by the SACCO managers who are the preparers of the annual reports.

The other issue is in balancing, family, research, and work. This has been a delicate balance given that family always comes first, yet the PhD is demanding and work is a constant.

Your greatest Achievements

Getting the Guinness Strathmore Scholarship was a major feat for me, as it opened doors to get quality education from Strathmore University and all that comes with it.

As an early career researcher, I would also attribute other successes such as getting international exposure, thanks to the grants provided by the IAAER to attend international conferences in accounting. I have been able to meet well-known accounting educators and researchers, who I had only read in books and seen in top journals in accounting and finance.

What inspires you to achieve the best?

The urge to be good in what I do is my key motivator. Since I decided to pursue accounting, I have tasked myself with the challenge of being a good accounting academic and researcher. I can say that I have achieved part of this by getting that accounting qualification, working at a Big 4 audit firm, and linking up with accounting and finance researchers in accounting.

What are your 5 – 10 year plans?

My first goal is to obtain the PhD within the next one year. After that, the sky above the clouds will be my limit as I improve myself and venture into quality, international research in accounting.

My ultimate goal is to, one day and with God’s blessings, publish in the Journal of Accounting Research!

Where do you draw your motivation from?

The first source of my motivation is constant prayers to our Heavenly Father.

Second, my daughter, who keeps on wondering why dad is usually busy reading some documents and carrying heavy books around!

The other motivation is from those distinguished professors in accounting academics, who convince me that; I can be like them!

What advice would you give potential PhD students?

Start off, do not keep that idea in your mind, wondering whether it is viable or not. You will straighten it as time goes by. As you start off, be ready to read, read, read, then write, write, write. You need to then re-write, re-write, re-write, until the idea is acceptable.

However, this should be after you have decided to start off your PhD.

What do you do in your spare time?

I love playing with my daughter and taking time off to enjoy nature and all that is in it!

Blogging is my other pre-occupation. You can take time and read some of my blogs:

Credit unions:http://kenyansaccoleague.blogspot.com/

Forensic Investigations:http://dmathuva2012.blogspot.com/

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