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Business opportunities start when you are 10 years old, says Saiba member Hillyne Jonkerman

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Meet Saiba member Hillyne Jonkerman, an entrepreneur and accountant who started doing business from the age of 10. The eldest of four children to a single mother, he made it his mission to be provider for his mother and siblings from a tender age.

Jonkerman grew up in Cape Town, where his business of selling cakes started. “There was a boy who wanted my sister’s number and he sold at a nearby bakery, so in exchange for her number I asked him to sell me all the cakes left from the previous day. That is how my first business started.”’

Jonkerman went on selling cakes until he reached high school. He would run to the bakery in the morning and stock up on cakes that he would then go out and sell. Then he started adding new products, such as chocolates (which he sold for 5c). To make even more profit, the ever entrepreneurial Jonkerman would extend credit to his customers who couldn’t pay: they would be given chocolate worth 5c but were expected to pay 10c the following day.

After completing high school, he moved to Cape Town, with ambitions of making it in elite-level athletics. He earned himself several athletic scholarships, one of them from the university of Kentucky, but he opted for Stellenbosch University instead. He even got sponsored by Adadis, but his athletic career took a sour turn when he got injured during his second year and he had to call it quits.

All was not lost, because Jonkerman had started a business with a friend before going to university repairing cell phones. The friend would do the repairs and Jonkerman handled the accounts and marketing. The business grew in leaps and bounds, being one of just a few repair shops in the area, and still exists today.

Soon after completing his B.Com degree in management accounting, he went onto do his internship and complete his articles. Soon after, he moved to Sanlam, starting a business on the side which made him more money than his actual job.

“I did business for other advisors and my skills in tax were like no other so I made more money from my side business. I did that until I decided that I couldn’t continue working anymore, so I went full-time into business.”

After two years of working at Sanlam, in 2004 Jonkerman left and started practicing, though he did not register as a business until 2012.

“I solved other people’s problems more than I attended to my business, I did this with a PA as my only assistant for a long time.”

In 2013 he made a move which doubled his client base. “I moved offices right next to SA Revenue Services (Sars), I knew that this was where my clients were and I definitely made the right decision. Even to this day I get client referrals from Sars.”

We decided to drill down into Jonkerman’s astonishing career.

What challenges you faced in your career?

Being an accountant 15 years ago it was difficult to practice, as tax submissions were done manually and tax management was difficult. Today, this is much simpler, and with electronic filing things can be done much more efficiently.

How do you differentiate yourself?

I speak as an entrepreneur before I speak as an accountant, I know how businesses are run because I have my own. So when it comes to advising my clients, I have the entrepreneurial mindset to which I can add my accounting expertise. I also cut costs for my clients by not doing any data capturing. Bookkeeping is not a part of our services because it is time consuming. I prefer to handle their taxes and offer financial advice, and mostly get involved in their strategic decision-making.

Who you are outside the profession?

I am a married man with a three year-old son. I love spending time with family and running. I love making cocktails and wine tasting, I am also a member of a wine farm but these days I prefer spending more time with family, so I attend to wine tasting events less often. I am also a retired minister at my church, and I am now a part of the youth committee.I am also involved in pro-bono work and I have an NPO called Bizzpartner Foundation which I dedicate my time in helping the community.

How has being a Saiba member helped you?

I have a friend of mine who has always been a Saiba member. He always got great advice and I decided to jump on board because I could see it helping my career, allowing me to connect with the younger generation of accountants. That has been very helpful and motivating.

What are your future ambitions?

I want to become a CFO and am glad that I can do that through Saiba. I also want to grow as an entrepreneur, and to develop as an individual to achieve happiness. I have a medical supplies company and I also have investments in properties. Having these business grow while I develop myself as an entrepreneur in the process is my goal and I plan on venturing into other businesses as well.