How this CA from South Africa quit her corporate job and used all her savings to start an Auditing & Consulting firm
- Hi, I am Matlhogonolo Mogapi, a CA(SA) and an Entrepreneur, born and bred in the agricultural town of Vryburg in the North West Province, South Africa.
- Throughout high school, all I knew was that I wanted a professional career and eventually become an entrepreneur.
- Although I was a science student, I didn’t want to do health sciences or engineering. Initially, my interest was in applied maths and computer science but finally, I decided to pursue Accounting Science.
- In 2015, while studying master’s in business administration, I got the confidence to leave employment and pursue entrepreneurship.
- Making swift decisions led outmost by intuition has brought me to where I am today.
How my CA journey started
During my time, STEM was very popular and for a science student like me, health sciences or engineering would have been the obvious choice. But I applied for B.Sc Applied Maths and Computer Science. I got into both programs at the University of Witwatersrand (Wits). However, since I wasn’t interested in either of them, I moved to Accounting Science.
I knew very little about becoming a CA but I knew from my brother that it will lead me to a professional career. I have always taken intuitive decisions and that has made all the difference….…Then my CA(SA) journey began.
I had great exposure during my articles training at KPMG. In fact, for my third year, I was a trainer, working with the training and development unit in facilitating Audit and Professional Skills training for first and second-year trainees.
All in all, I had a remarkably interesting journey to becoming a chartered accountant and it paved the way for my future.
Taking an entrepreneurial leap
After my CA articles training end in late 2012, I wanted to go into finance and investments, leading me to study for the CFA qualifications for which I only completed level 1.
Meanwhile, I moved from KPMG and joined banking as an accountant in hopes to pivot to treasury and investments. I soon realized this is not what I want and in 2014, I left the banking institution to join an investment company.
This was a great opportunity but yet again my ambitions and hopes for my life had changed. I now wanted flexibility and the ability to create, and the environment was not allowing for that type of growth.
So, finally in 2015, after moving companies (and while studying master’s in business administration). I decided to take the entrepreneurial leap and start Bagaka Group - to support the SME market with financial management and compliance, specifically offering accounting, tax, and advisory services.
What next now?
Starting out as a consulting firm & pivoting to Audit
I started by myself with no office or team. I took out my pension and all savings at that point and invested it in the business. I had to downgrade my standard of living at that time including renting out my apartment and moving back home.
Starting out was not easy in fact quite uncomfortable for me at first as I had to be on the ground, selling.
I had no concrete plan on what the next year would look like. There was a lot of unlearning and re-learning.
Over the next few months, I understood the customers better, their needs and wants, their language, and where they placed reporting and compliance in their business. This helped us develop our marketing techniques.
Having studied the market for two years, I knew that Accounting and Tax services were congested. However, Audit was a draw and there was a lot of scope for ‘impact delivery’ in that market.
Therefore, we had to pivot and develop recognizable service offerings needed by the market. This led us to a comprehensive offering, including audit!
In 2017, a friend of mine who was an internal audit specialist joined me after I registered the firm with the Independent Regulatory Board of Auditors (IRBA). With our aligned values and dreams, we set out in the pursuit of generating Social Impact.
Soon, we started offering both Internal and External Audits and I became a member of the Committee for Auditing Standards at IRBA.
Since then, there has been no turning back.
Overcoming challenges and obstacles
The biggest challenge which we still face is the transfer of knowledge. My business partner and I have developed a lot of experience over the years. However, the difficulty has always been underestimating the time that is required to do on-the-job training.
Also getting our teams to be confident to pursue and develop their own solutions to the problems. We are working hard on that and believe the results are starting to show.
The second problem was market transitioning as we grew and redefined our target and strategic market approach. But we have appointed a company to assist with the implementation of our approach. Segmenting the market and developing different approaches for each segment has helped us so far.
With each day, we are working towards overcoming the challenges through targeted decisions.
- Bagaka Offers a complete suite of audit, accounting, tax, and transactional advisory services.
- Our risk-based approach also means we offer risk services, process and control environment assessment, forensic audits, ICT Audits, and training and development.
- We have wide experience in performing knowledge audits, performance audits, developed policies and procedures, developed processes for contract and Supply Chain management, forensics, ICT audits, valuations services, and due diligence reviews.
A timeline of our firm’s growth journey
- The ideation stage began.
- Piloting services offerings, redefining our offering and market study.
- The firm was still a one-man show at this stage, with less than 10 SMEs spread out between Gauteng and The North West.
- We returned home and established the firm in the North West and Northern Cape as there’s a lack of black-owned Audit and Accounting firms in those provinces
- Registering with IRBA and developing quality management manual for external audits.
- It was a two-member firm at this stage, about 10 to 20 clients in accounting, and started to market our assurance services.
- Getting our first external audit client and first employee at the beginning of the year.
- Developing our processes and methodology for Audit.
- The full market launch of our services.
- Operating in Gauteng, North West, and Northern Cape.
- Alignment with other firms and subcontracting and bringing in subcontractors who share the same values and work ethic as us.
- We got our first office space in Mafikeng and hired our first group of trainees.
- Developing our internal culture, and team working style.
- Registered with SAICA as a training office and with ACCA as an approved employer.
- Accreditation as a training provider with Services Seta.
- Assessment of processes and procedures.
- Automating a lot of the internal processes.
From a very young age, I knew I was going to pursue entrepreneurship, but never in a million years would I have thought audit.
In university, audit was my least favorite subject. I just could not connect with the mindset needed to approach the subject.
In practice, I started connecting but still, the environment just did not make sense.
Connecting with clients and getting them to see you’re not there to get them, was difficult.
But now I understand audit better and am better able to articulate that to my client and build a collaborative relationship.
I think the profession is in need of passionate and dedicated CA’s who want to make a difference.
CAs can have a real impact in Audit by being the last line of defense in securing the public interest. If we provide quality audit services then the public is assured that their money is safe and that will contribute towards shaping the social dynamics of our country.
So, if you want to start your own Assurance Firm go for it.
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