Zidisha team spotlight: Michaela Ladstaetter, Accountant

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By Julia Kurnia, Director

Michaela joined us a little over a year ago, and it’s already hard to imagine life at Zidisha without her.

Affectionately dubbed “the Sheriff” by our volunteers, Michaela has the incredibly important job of ensuring that every dollar that passes through our organization is correctly accounted for.  With thousands of loans, multiple currencies and financial accounts in ten countries, that is quite a challenge!

In keeping with our vision of overcoming geographic barriers, we don’t use brick-and-mortar offices, and our globally dispersed team collaborates from our own locations around the world.  Michaela is based in South Tyrol, a beautiful region of the Italian Alps, where she is a Certified Public Accountant.

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Michaela’s “back yard”

It is no exaggeration that without the thorough accounting that Michaela provides, Zidisha’s work would not be possible.  But Michaela is also a wonderful person in her own right.  Her sense of humor and contagious cheerfulness make our monthly accounting reconciliations, which would otherwise be a chore, something to look forward to.

I couldn’t resist sharing a couple of my favorite quotes from Michaela:

Bookkeeping was invented in Italy, in Florence, in the 15th century (at least this is what we are taught) and so Italian accountants are very proud of it ☺☺

You know I’m a professional auditor… So it’s like an occupational disease to make the numbers fit perfectly

And this great excerpt from Michaela’s forum bio:

I used to be a quite successful certified public accountant and auditor. Now I am in a transitional period, as I saw that those jobs filled my wallet, but not my heart. I don’t pretend to save the world, but I’ll try to give my little contributions to make small enhancements ☺

I finally managed to catch up with the busy Michaela this month, and she generously agreed to take part in this interview.

How did you hear about Zidisha?  

I was thinking about taking part of my money to use in a social project. As I am convinced that microloans are a great way to alleviate poverty, I was seeking for an organisation to give the money to. I found Zidisha by browsing the internet, and was fascinated by the idea of a microlending organisation without intermediary. I became a Zidisha lender, and after a while, looking at the forum, I saw that there was offered a volunteer position as accountant. I was so convinced of the Zidisha idea, that I spontaneously offered myself for that job – and fortunately Julia accepted.

What sort of activities have you done since you started volunteering with us?

I’ve started out with accounting and are still doing this. First of all I had to understand how the intern processes at Zidisha work, to get started with the bookkeeping program and to learn how to find the information I need on the website.
Now every month I get the bank statements from the country volunteers, and I compare them with the website records. Every payment is registered by the country volunteer, so I do only check if one has not been registered yet or registered with the wrong amount or things like that. One of the volunteers named me the Zidisha Sheriff, as I ensure that everything has been registered in the right way. When bank statements and website records do fit, I record the bank statement summary.
I also check the US bank statements, where lenders loads up their funds and our expenses are paid from and register the transactions. Finally I upload the latest QuickBooks file and send the monthly report to the Director.

Do you have a favorite Zidisha entrepreneur story?

No, there are so many stories I like that I wouldn’t take one out. I’m happy about an agriculture entrepreneur who reported that she has improved her business with my loan, about a motorbike taxi driver who was able to buy a second motorbike and has now an employee, about a computer shop owner who has bought new equipment for her shop.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I live in a beautiful area in the Alps. I like to go out in the nature, either for hiking, having a walk or just enjoying the landscape.

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