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Meet the next generation of accountants

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They’re young, bursting with energy, and some have already started their own businesses. Virtually all of them come from humble families living in the remotest parts of South Africa.

That they made it here, to the elite training academy for accountants on a skills readiness programme that will prepare them for the workplace, is a testament to their grit.

These are the faces of the next generation of accountants.

Saiba trainee accountants get into the numbers at the SA Accounting Academy training programme

Accounting Weekly met up with five trainee accountants – part of a group of 50 now under training by the SA Accounting Academy – to hear their personal stories and what excites them about the accounting profession.

In April, the SA Institute of Business Accountants (Sabia) put out a call for 50 black graduates seeking a career in accounting. Saiba has contracted SA Accounting Academy (SAAA) to do the training. The four-month training programme will result in the graduates being placed in employment at Saiba member accounting firms, allowing them to complete the requirements for the professional designation Business Accountant (SA).

Kutlwano Monnamorwa – “accounting is the science of good order

Kutlwano Monnamorwa, an accountant in training, says accounting is the science of good order

“What I love about accounting is it is the science of order,” says Kutlwano Monnamorwa. “A one page report tells you a lot.’ Kutlwano, 24, comes from Taung in North West Province, where she attended high school and excelled at accounting. She then went on to complete a B. Comm at Mafikeng University, and was lucky enough to find local employment, but felt she was not being challenged enough. “I was doing basic admin work, and I was not using my accounting skills. I didn’t feel I was adding value to the firm, so that’s when I decided I would apply for this training programme. What amazes me about this programme is that the pass rate is 100%, whereas we were used to much lower pass rates in our previous studies. We learn soft skills as well, which you don’t get in the regular education system.”

Serogole Mahlatse – succeeded in academic studies despite humble beginnings

Serogole Mahlatse has ambitions of becoming a CA and then the sky is the limit

Serogole Mahlatse, 25, from Ga-Mphahlele Tooseng in Limpopo, got her inspiration to become an accountant when the African Women Chartered Accountants (AWCA) came to her school in this remote part of Limpopo and gave a presentation. “I was in Standard 10 at the time, and realised I wanted to be an accountant. It made sense to me, despite the fact that the teaching at our school wasn’t the best.” She went on to study for a Bachelor of Accounting degree at the University of Limpopo, where she became vice chair of the local chapter of the AWCA. Once done with the training programme at the Incubation Hub north of Johannesburg, Serogole intends to settle into an accounting position where she can grow her skills and ultimately become a chartered accountant.

Phetani Lutsavha – wanted to be a radio broadcaster but has come to love accounting

Phetani Lutsavha learned to love accounting and numbers after enrolling at University of Johannesburg and completing his B. Comm Accounting degree

Phetani comes from Afton Village, near Musina in Limpopo, not far from the Limpopo River. He spent his early years in Joburg, but when his parents split, he was sent back to the village near where his mother grew up. He walked to school in the neighbouring village each day, and had ambitions of becoming a radio broadcaster (am ambition he still holds to this day). “At school, there were no opportunities for radio broadcasting, so I had a choice between commerce and social sciences. A teacher recommended I do commerce. What I really wanted to do was radio broadcasting, but my uncle said ‘No!’. He took me to the University of Johannesburg and enrolled me in a B. Comm Accounting course. I just finished this year and have come to love accounting and numbers,” he says. He has already shown his entrepreneurial talents: he teamed up with a business partner to supply the Atchar to the food sector.

Mmathabo Mohlala – her accounting career started when she decided to help out her Mom in business

Mmabatho Mahlala from Lydenburg in Mpumalanga came to love accounting after jumping in to help out her Mom in running her catering business

Mmathabo (“Mother of happiness”) grew up in Lydenburg in Mpumalanga where she attended high school, learning in both English and Afrikaans. She was drawn to accounting when her Mom opened a catering and events company and needed the books done. “My Mom previously had an accountant, but when her tax returns were not filed on time, she had to pay a fine. I decided I better jump in and sort out the books. That’s where I got my love of accounting. I particularly love the auditing side.” She went on to study at the Tshwane University of Technology in Pretoria, and sees her current training programme as a stepping stone to much bigger things in her accounting career. “Ultimately I want to be a CA, and a CEO or CFO of a company.” She already has a small recruitment agency, which she started with a friend, and has had to put her foot down over the disbursement of cash. Confronted with her first ethical test as an accountant, Mmathabo passed with flying colours.

Kefilwe Mabua – accounting has given her the confidence to run her own business

Kefilwe Mabua is the CPD compliance officer at Saiba and a past graduate of the training programme. Her career in accounting has blossomed since completing the training.

Kefilwe Mabua is a past graduate of the training programme and is currently employed as the Continuous Professional Development (CPD) compliance officer with Saiba. Originally from Hammanskraal, north of Pretoria, she completed the programme in 2014, and says it gave her the confidence to achieve anything in life. “When I first started the programme, my English wasn’t very good and I did not have a lot of confidence. I found it difficult to communicate with people. You learn all sorts of things that are essential to your career on this programme – from office etiquette, to filing, to business ethics, communication and how to write an email to your boss or a colleague. These softer skills you don’t learn elsewhere. And of course you learn the technical skills you need as an accountant, so that you can bring a company’s books to trail balance at the end of the month. This is why graduates from this programme are so much in demand in the workplace. They bring something extra, and are competent at what they do from Day One.”

In the longer term, Kefilwe plans to blend her love of accounting with her creative instincts. “I love fashion and believe I am capable of running my own business. Accounting showed me how to run my own finances, and I feel I have the skills and confidence to run my own business.”