Home Community A dropout no more – the Kholiswa Mqotyana story

A dropout no more – the Kholiswa Mqotyana story


The university dropout rate in South Africa is about 47%, which is a huge cause for concern for both universities and government, not to mention the students who don’t complete their courses, and their families.

One such person was Kholiswa Mqotyana from the rural areas of Cofimvaba, who grew up in Dordrecht, a town in the Eastern Cape known for agriculture and fishery. Mqotyana is from a disadvantaged background. Her upbringing and environment had not prepared her for the pressures of studying at university.

“In high school I was a part of Saica (SA Institute of Chartered Accountants) camps and it was through the camps that I got exposed to accounting. After finishing my matric, I got Thuthuka bursary and I enrolled with the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. At that point I was only studying accounting because of the bursary I had. I not particularly self-aware, nor did I recognise the factors within and outside my control that would enable me to be more decisive and allow me to become motivated to bring change in the business world. I certainly have that now.”

Dropping out of university

She dropped out of university in her third year due to the pressures of university life. In her own words, she couldn’t juggle the academic and social lifestyle that comes with enrolment in university, and decided to return home.

“At first, I was comfortable with my decision, I worked at KwikSave supermarket in my home town and I thought that I am set because I was cushioned by the low costs of living at home. It wasn’t until one of the local doctors saw me in the supermarket, and recognised my intelligence and strengths. With her help and encouragement, I set up an interview for myself at an accounting firm in Queenstown called A2A Kopano Incorporated. Had it not been the doctor in that position of power and influence to speak on my behalf and vouch for me, I would not be where I am now.”

Mqotyana completed her Saica articles at A2A Kopano, while also finishing her BCom accounting degree with Unisa. She credits her previous employer, Andrew Alt, a director at A2A Kopano, for taking the time and care to guide her through the professional challenges she faced, and making her believe that she was capable of being great. “There were a lot of times I had to borrow his confidence in me in order to develop confidence in myself”.

This required overcoming the mindset of being comfortable in mediocre settings and yielding to commitments.

“We often disqualify ourselves because we do not have external accreditation but we do not realise that we need to start where we are and have the right way of thinking in order to initiate positive change, regardless of whether or not we are qualified to do,” she says.

Her awakening made her realise that she wanted to do for others what was done for her. She enrolled for a certificate in life coaching with the intention to help people develop themselves for professional sustainability.

“I want to give back and be an inclusive growth catalyst in my community. I want to foster and perpetuate the affluence of the people around me because if one person could do it for me, it means I can do the same for someone else.”

What is you current career status?

I am now with The Tax House, an SME that caters for the tourism and hospitality industry. We deal with business advisory, estate planning, and we are very strategic and focused on helping companies grow from start to finish. The Tax House is a space to learn, grow and nourish my skills before I can take another step in my career.

A typical day in your job

We process and align tasks such as financial reporting and drafting annual financial statements for clients. We are also cloud based, enabling us to better serve global markets. We are certified Xero, Spotlight, Float, and PaySpace advisors. It is in how we offer client advice that I can say we are doctors for business. We are value-driven more than budget-driven and we cater to the individual needs of our clients. Those of our clients in the tourism and hospitality sector affected by Covid-19 need special care. We make sure that they are exposed to the necessary funds available for their businesses.

Your selling point as a professional

  • I am an inclusive growth catalyst – this applies to both indviduals and busineses
  • I am an advocate for spending in the production of income. I want people to understand that to generate revenue you must spend, but you must earn more revenue than you are spending.
  • I aim to help individuals and organisations understand what it means to spend in the production of income.

Being a Saiba member

As a SAICA articled accountant, her goal was to be CA(SA), but then the Saiba opened up new horizons, and inspired her to be more than just a CA. Having the BAP designation helped her raise her status with clients, as people value external accreditation.

“I can say that Saiba is a trailblazer and it has accommodated its members, encouraging them to progress from where they are to where they want to go. Saiba says ‘start where you are’ and that is important for members to realise and begin to use their skills in becoming who you want to be.

“Being part of Saiba meant that I could get support and encouragement to finish what I started. With the different tools and material that is at our disposal, one can learn and grow.”

Kholiswa outside the business world

I have a seven year-old daughter, and I come from a larger family that is very close and loving. I am a strong believer of faith. artistic and creative, and I love seeing people grow and succeed. I spend my spare time with friends or family. I am an optimist and I contribute positively to the lives of those around me.

Future aspirations and goals

When everything is said and done, I want it to be said that I foster, facilitate, oversee, and perpetuate growth. I want to breed distinct and quality entrepreneurs. As I have mentioned, I have a certificate in life coaching, and I will soon be launching my YouTube channel that will enable me to share and aid change in the lives of different people. The channel will focus on personal development for professional sustainability. I want to trigger a state of mind that will foster change in the economic and thinking of individuals in South Africa.

Over and above all this, I want to be an inclusive growth catalyst. I also want to venture into immigration advice, accounting and business rescue.