Why this expat Chartered Accountant moved to Tanzania and built a successful career in finance

  • Hi! I am Aman Vohra a qualified Chartered Accountant from India…living and working in amazing Tanzania since 2007.
  • After qualifying as an Accountant, I worked for a few years at a CA firm in India and was all set to start my own Accounting firm. My CA practice was picking up and life was going on great…when I got an opportunity in Tanzania with an audit firm, ‘Baker Tilly DGP & Co. I took the opportunity and moved to Dar es Salaam.
  •  It has been more than a decade here and with great opportunities, I grew to become a part of the Senior Management of a very recognised multinational company. 
  • Here is my story of How I established a successful career in Tanzania holding prestigious posts…while still achieving a lot of my personal goals.

Humble Beginnings: Pursuing Chartered Accountancy

I was born in the Industrial City of India Ludhiana, Punjab.

My father, Mr. Baldev Raj Vohra has worked as an Accountant with various entities throughout his career while my mother, Mrs. Nirmal Kanta Vohra has been a homemaker. I also have two younger siblings.

Growing up in a middle-class family, with very limited resources taught me early a lot of lessons in life...the biggest being 'to use resources optimally'. This quality helps me even today in my professional life.

When it was time to decide on my career path, I chose to be a Chartered Accountant.

As I said, my father worked as an accountant throughout his career and always wanted me to become a Chartered Accountant.

So, the initial thoughts and inspiration came from my dad...however, after I joined the CA Course I loved it so much and it became a passion for me!

I knew CA was the right career choice. My determination was strengthened by the confidence of my parents and the right direction by my first Principal, CA. Navneet Jerath.

I still remember his first words to me. He said:-

“Doing CA is like trekking up a steep mountain with loads of luggage on your back. You have to look at the peak of the mountain and keep moving until you reach there. You cannot say that you are tired. The day you say you are tired, you will be out of the journey. So, if you think you will be tired, don’t go for it. Otherwise, welcome to the profession.”

His words always inspired me and helped me continue my efforts....until I qualified as a Chartered Accountant in the year 2002.

Starting my Career in India to Getting a Job Offer in Tanzania

2002. After I qualified as a Chartered Accountant, I continued working at the same CA firm from where I did my articles.

Why? All I wanted was to gain more work experience and start my own CA firm.

Around the same time, I also got my Certificate of Practice and started my own practice as a proprietor of M/s Aman Vohra & Co.

In a few years, I was able to enrich my experience in various other fields as well...I was all excited that finally, my CA Practice was picking up and doing well.

However, in the last week of February 2007, something unusual happened…I got an offer for an interview with an Audit Firm a Dar es Salaam, Tanzania!

I was totally surprised when this offer came to me.

My first reaction was - "Tanzania? Why would I move to Africa? And how did this CA firm get to know about me?"

(Later I got to know that one of the Partners had reviewed my profile on a job search engine and thought I would be a good fit.)

I thought why not give the telephonic interview and see what turns out of this...after all I had nothing to lose!

I had a telephonic interview with them and the next day I was given an appointment letter to join them as a Manager Audit!

The salary, the opportunities all seemed perfect. It was a hard decision to make.

What should I be doing?

Bold Decision Taken: Moving to Tanzania

To be honest, I had never heard of Tanzania and had faint memories of studying about Zanzibar and Mount Kilimanjaro at school.

Also, I had never been away from my family especially my 2-year-old daughter.

The most important part was my 'CA practice in India' was just taking off...and if my move to Tanzania did not work out, I would have to start my journey all over again!

I had a discussion with my parents and my wife about the offer.

All of us had several doubts in our minds. Everyone that we consulted painted a very bad picture of Africa like Poverty, Crime etc.

I took a couple of days to research about Tanzania and spoke to a few of my clients who had experience in Tanzania.

With positive feedback from 'only two of my clients and a strong positive gut feeling'...I decided to go ahead and accept the offer.

I sent my acceptance to their office and the very next day they sent me the Air Ticket to travel from Mumbai (India) to Dar es Salaam.

With a heavy heart and a lot of courage, I embarked to Tanzania on 12th March 2007....it was also my first travel outside of India.

And here started an exciting journey for a lifetime.

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Early days In Tanzania and Getting Settled 

For some reason, I felt in my gut that this move would change the course of my life for the better and it surely did.

Tanzania turned out to be a much better place than I expected. It is a peaceful country with fresh air, fresh fruits. You can have a great balance in terms of time management between family and work. And I was liking the whole new experience.

But what I underestimated was the challenges I had to go through initially.

Lack of connectivity of phone calls, the different cultures, food, etc. made it difficult for me to get accustomed to the different working environments. Also living away from my family, more so my 2 years old daughter was quite hard.

Fortunately, within a month of moving to Tanzania, I started working on getting visas for my wife and 2-year-old daughter. The whole process took almost two months (I did feel it was taking forever) and my family joined me by the end of May 2007!

I had a work permit but my wife, Shikha Vohra, though, a PGT Mathematics could not work in Tanzania as she was on a Dependent Pass. She happily assumed the role of a homemaker for the time being while I was getting settled in my new job. (For which I am ever grateful to my wife.)

The biggest challenge was...being in a new country with zero friends or relatives.

The language was also different and thus, it took us some time to get used to the new environment and to make our own circle of friends.

With the passage of time, I got to know more and more people and our social life got better.

Some of my friends from India followed me to Tanzania and we formed a nice social circle...the group is now my small family away from my own family in India!

Professional Growth in Tanzania

"Always trust your gut. It knows what your head hasn't figured out."

It has been almost 10 years in Tanzania...and I am so glad I followed my gut and moved here.

It gave me the opportunity to grow quickly from a Manager at 'Baker Tilly DGP & Co.' to now senior management professional with a multinational group of companies, 'Bakhresa Group' which is spread all across Africa.

Working in an international setup is completely different from working in your home town.

Right from Auditing as per International Standards to working on huge projects is what my journey has been all about so far...and I am still learning.

When I first moved to Tanzania, there was so much to learn and 'many opportunities' that were coming my way.

I did not want to stay in my comfort zone...so I took the initiative to learn and grow as much as I could. This attitude helped me become a very well-recognized professional in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

I got due respect on both professional and personal fronts.

Personal Growth and Impact

Also since the day I started working in Tanzania, I felt a need of having an association of Chartered Accountants from ICAI (The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India) to share ideas, knowledge and continuous professional development.

Luckily in 2013, like-minded ICAI members based in Tanzania got together and we strongly resolved to start a Chapter in Dar es Salaam. It was no easy task but finally, after almost 2 years we incorporated a company named DAR ES SALAAM CHAPTER OF ICAI, limited by guarantee on 8th January 2015.

Though I am the Founder Chairman of the Chapter, this could not have been possible without support from initial founder members CA. Milind Kapadia, CA. Pragnesh Udeshi, CA. Vikas Sharma, CA. Subhash Mutha, CA. Bankim Joshi, CA. Jyothi Prakash Arni and CA. Mallikarjuna Reddy. The Chapter is close to my heart and shall always remain for life.

(If you want any guidance on how to start a chapter of like-minded CA in a new country, I am happy to help!)

In addition, I am on the board of the Indian Business Forum as an Executive Committee member.

In a nutshell, moving to Tanzania...changed my life and had a huge positive impact on my professional and personal standing.

“Is it easy to find a job as a Finance Expat in Tanzania?”

Tanzania is the largest country in East Africa.

The commercial capital, Dar es Salaam, is a port city with the Indian Ocean on one side and the whole African region on the other side.

Dar es Salaam is a gateway to all landlocked countries around it like Kenya, Uganda, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, etc.

Tanzania is a peaceful country and has been among the fastest developing countries in the African region. The city of Dar es Salaam is full of beaches and good people. The city has a sizeable number of Indian Expatriates as well as Tanzanians of Indian descent.

As per the recent data from the High Commission of India, approximately 80,000 people of Indian Origin are residing in Tanzania and most of them have made Dar es Salam their home.

Being the commercial capital, Dar es Salaam has a good number of Industrial units, Trading and other business houses providing ample opportunities to professionals, especially Chartered Accountants.

While Tanzania has quite a substantial number of local Certified Public Accountants, there is always an opportunity for expat Chartered Accountants.

We have expat Accountants from India, Kenya, and South Africa in the majority.

If you can value the companies here over and above the talent locally available, finding a job here is quite easy!

“What do companies in Tanzania expect from expat CAs?”

Chartered Accountants, preferably with 4-5 years experience have a good chance of getting a job in Tanzania.

The companies in Tanzania ‘don’t mind spending' more for the right person, provided they get value for money spent.

All they expect is quality work and advice from expatriates joining them…you have to add value.

So, Chartered Accountants looking for opportunities in Tanzania should try to enhance their skill set in areas like International Taxation, Transfer Pricing, Robotics, CryptoCurrency concepts, SAP knowledge etc.

For more details, you can refer to the Global Career E-kit published by Dar es Salaam Chapter of ICAI, which is available on the ICAI website as well as the website of the chapter,  www.icaitanzania.org.

“How can I find a job in Tanzania as a Chartered Accountant?

To find a job in Tanzania, you can look for a job posted at various platforms and job search engines like LinkedIn, Naukri.com or consulting firms that provide information on requirements in Tanzania.

Please note: Don’t pay agents or middlemen just for getting a job in Tanzania.

Whenever you get a job offer, try to learn more about the employer through an internet search and then negotiate your deal.

Also, speak to friends/colleagues in Tanzania and understand the ground realities.

If you are a CA from India, you may also take the help of the Dar es Salaam Chapter of ICAI for this purpose.

“What salary I can expect as an expat Chartered Accountant in Tanzania?”

An expat Chartered Accountant (with no local experience in Tanzania) can expect a starting a net salary of US$ 1,500/- to US$ 3,000 per month along with other benefits like housing, medical expenses, travel tickets, etc.

If you have work experience in Tanzania or in Africa, you can definitely get more since ‘there is no limit for the right candidate’. 

It is worth noting that the cost of housing and medical is very high here. If you are negotiating your salary for a job in Tanzania, be sure to consider all these factors.

In Conclusion…

“You never change your life until you step out of your comfort zone; change begins at the end of your comfort zone.”

Determination and Passion for your work is the key to success. Continue the hard work in the right direction and success will follow.

The world today is an open market and I do encourage young professionals to extend their search portfolio to the world at large.

There are many opportunities that we cannot understand until we are out of our comfort zone. Yes, it requires hard work and a lot of adjustments…but in the end, the result is fruitful.

I would like to give the credit of my success to my life partner, Shikha Vohra, daughters Tamanna and Mannat, my parents, family, friends and well-wishers who have accorded me their support and co-operation to me in all walks of life.

Now It’s Your Turn…

Have you visited Tanzania? Which country do you wish to work in? How was your experience in a completely new environment?

Let me know in the comments. And don’t forget to share it with your friends.

You can connect with me at Aman Vohra.

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