Sinenhlanhla Shabangu

Having prospered herself, Sinenhlanhla likes to encourages young people and advise them on the importance of literacy as well as improving themselves through education.

“My dreams are centered on bettering the world and inspiring young girls to dream and believe in a world where they are equals and in a world that enables them to believe in the power of their own dreams – big or small. I also often dream of travelling and of positively impacting the African continent.”

Sinenhlanhla is inspired by the story of the underdog – people who come from the most ordinary circumstances or even devastating backgrounds and go on to change the world in an extraordinary way.

Who are you and what do you do as the 8 to 5 job & what led you to this career choice

I am a qualified chartered accountant. I am currently an external senior consultant who works remotely to assist USA-based audit firms during their busy season. I also operate in the social development space, where I tackle issues around illiteracy in South Africa. My career choice was largely a way in which I wanted to honour my late mother as being a chartered accountant was her dream for me. I also followed this path to offer myself choice, understanding that being a chartered accountant in South Africa would offer me so many professional career choices as well as more channels in which I could better the world.

Tell me about your upbringing, dreams & aspirations, educational and heritage.

I was born in rural KZN and then moved to Newcastle just before I started primary school. I come from a very close-knit family and community. My sister, Phakamile, and my brothers, Ziphozethu and Siyabonga, are still my very best friends. I matriculated at Hope High School and then went on to complete both my undergraduate degree and honours degree specialising in chartered accountancy at the University of Johannesburg. Thereafter, I completed my articles at a big 4 audit firm.

My heritage is Africa and her people. I mirror our people and our rich history in who I am as a person in all the spaces that I occupy.

What is your side hustle business and/or forums you actively participate in?

I run several literacy initiatives that aim to improve literacy statistics in African communities. These include a national writing competition, the publishing of THE GREAT AFRICAN READ which is a children’s book series that is adapted from our writing competition, our moving boxes initiative that aims to mobilise reading books to rural communities and a reading room renovation that takes place at a rural school.

I am also an Independent Trustee for the HP South Africa Trust where we support young females to pursue an IT qualification at tertiary level.

I am part of the Yolanda Cuba mentorship circle and the Industry Sharing Sessions. Both of these forums have allowed me gain access to a group of individuals that are market leaders in the spaces that they occupy, who then share their experiences and the lessons they have learnt in an attempt to give others in the group the tools to better navigate their success story.

How did you come up with the idea for your business?

I entered a spelling bee competition into the Nedbank CA Training Program Competition with the aim of encouraging young people in my community of Newcastle to read and write. This competition led to my interest in the illiteracy agenda in Africa. I was announced 3rd in South Africa for my entry and as they say, “the rest is history”.

What about funding – what is easy or difficult and how did you navigate it

With the type of initiatives that we now run; we have been very fortunate to have had several brands come on board over the years. These include the likes of the Kunoa Consulting, Old Mutual Foundation, the Department of Accountancy at the University of Johannesburg, Hydrospec and BIC South Africa – to name our latest sponsors and partners.

Even with that support, the reach and impact of our initiatives is growing and as such, we are always seeking to align our growth strategy with not only the sponsors that have come on board in the past but also other potential sponsors/collaborators who want to come on board to encourage learners across South Africa, and hopefully soon in communities across Africa, to read & write and in turn inspire a literate and educated generation of young people.

 How do you balance the two aspects of responsibility (work & business)?

I prioritise in stages. I try to manage my time and my tasks in a way that serves all the roles that I play. The literacy cycles we run are seasonal and we run one main event in each quarter. That helps me to plan in terms of how I can then go about structuring my time and efforts. I also have a great team around me, people who support me and encourage me to excel in all the areas that I am invested in and ensure that the job gets done.

Did You Experience Failures as you built your business and how did you deal with them?

Yes. Not everyone will believe in your vision and that is okay. You need to believe in it and trust that everyone else will catch up with you on your way to realising this vision. I am just a firm believer that the universe is always conspiring for your good so even when things don’t go my way in the short term, I am persistent in my pursuits and efforts and in trusting that it will always work out in the end.

Final Thoughts and message of encouragement to anyone out there about the importance of a plan B

I always think of the story of the talents in the Bible. I think it is very important that you maximise your God given talents, especially when there are so many others that can benefit from your courage to follow your dreams and I see that with the learners and the teachers we impact with our literacy initiatives.

Whether it be a plan B or a plan C or even a plan D, you can have as many plans as you see fit. More important than having a plan, is executing on the plan. If you have a dream or a vision that is outside your 8-5 or your comfort zone, you need to master the courage to see it through and execute, I have found that the most rewarding and fulfilling experiences await on the other side.

“Follow your dreams, they know the way.”

Leave a comment

Receive exclusive articles