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I started my practice with no source of income – Zolile Mpawu

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Born in Attredgeville, Saiba member Zolile Mpawu BA (SA) originally wanted to go into journalism. “Having grown up during the early eighties, there was not much to choose from,” he says.

Being the son of a teacher gave him a standard of living that was better than most other kids in the area, but his parents soon realised the environment he is in would be detrimental to his future. His parents took him to a boarding school after completing primary school. “There were a lot of riots around the area,” he says.

After completing high school, he went to Technikon Northern Gauteng in the hope of studying journalism. Only 50 out of roughly 1,000 students were selected and Zolile was not one of them.

“I was so disappointed and I had to choose another course. I then stumbled into commercial practice. I was accepted onto the accounting course. There were so many in the class, but the number decreased each semester.”

But had he given up hopes of being a journalist?

“I had to, because I was now studying a different course, so I just continued with the accounting course. Now to think of it, am grateful that I did not become a journalist because I am lazy and back in the days you had to carry a camera and a notebook all day, running! I wouldn’t have survived,” he says jokingly.

“Eventually I got a job at Edgars. It wasn’t what I wanted but I had no choice. I got my lucky break after a stranger came to me and told me that she had been looking for me, there was a job available, and I jumped at the opportunity. I became a wholesale banker and I was given a company car, a young men’s dream came true.”

After a couple of years of working at the bank, as a birthday gift to himself, he registered his company Mpawu Consulting. Some years later he quit his job at the bank and focused on his practice – a nerve-wracking experience with no sure source of income. “Some people took advantage of me and left without paying for my services. People I called my friends.”

What lesson did he learn from that?

“I learned not to mix business with pleasure and that not everyone is with you for good but to take advantage, people who I trusted left me in shambles. Because my practice was in my house, some people were saying ‘who did he think he is’. I had a big board by the gate with my practice name on it.”

Zolile said he would not remove the sign. He gathered his strength and toiled on. Ten years into it, he has built himself a practice he can be proud of. Specialising in tax, Mpawu Consulting has gained clients in several different provinces during the lockdown. Although he lost some clients, these have been replaced with new ones.

Zolile began as an associate member of Saiba and then gained membership. He says that having a Saiba logo on his work/documents gives clients trust and confidence in his services. Some of the benefits of Saiba membership include professional recognition, training and technical support. The reduced membership fees have helped support his practice, while the ability to work QuickBooks gives clients a high level of service. Zolile is in the process of becoming a BAP (SA).