It has been a year since chartered accountants, Lindani Dhlamini and Abel Dlamini, led the extraordinary challenge, SekelaXabiso, for a prime spot within South Africa’s tightly controlled auditing and advisory industry.
In a move that passes to be characterized in the political philosophy language of 16th century French thinker Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Abel Dlamini and Lindani Dhlamini (no family relations) gave up their small ‘fiefdoms’ Sekela Consulting and Xabiso Chartered Accountants respectively. They headed for a combination of interests that has come to challenge the status quo.
Launched in September 2012, SekelaXabiso is celebrating its first year anniversary and already counting significant gains of the ‘commune’ made of more than 300 largely black accounting professionals. It is now positioned as the second largest black auditing and advisory firm in the country and one that is competing to claim a spot within the Big Five. “The merger has proved to be a remarkable success,” said SekelaXabiso CEO Lindani Dhlamini. While we knew that the merger would translate into a step up, the successes of the past twelve months were beyond our expectations. The market has expressed remarkable confidence in the merged entity”.
Gains include winning what is probably the largest internal auditing mandate on the African continent, at Transnet. Another big internal audit job came from the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA). SekelaXabiso also swooped on an internal auditing mandate at the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) and the Human Settlement Department. The firms says its advisory division has also made big strides winning big jobs including assisting the Department of Public works with their turnaround project.
“It has been a year of hard work and significant growth,” said Lindani Dhlamini. We have been fortunate to win big mandates within the first year of the merger”. As always fortune favours the brave. Dhlamini opines that the merger and all the work that went into bedding it down, has communicated a critical message to the market that this black auditing entity is ready for the big league.
“We have been able to get support from the market because we deliver on our promise. Our promise is to deliver what is expected of us, we deliver exceptionally and with passion. Our passion comes from the fact that we are a youthful organisation. We have created a strong culture of learning and service excellence,” said Dhlamini.
“The merger came as a result of a call from the market for consolidation in our space as well as our need to entrench ourselves as one of the leading players in the market,” she said. Dhlamini added that SekelaXabiso was well poised for further growth. “We will follow growth opportunities wherever they are. She said the firm was aggressively pursuing organic growth and will also pounce acquisitive opportunities. She added that the firm was scouring opportunities within the wider African continent.
“Currently most of our work comes from the public sector. The private sector remains largely closed for organizations like ours. We see this as an opportunity for growth. If we continue to knock on their doors they will eventually open up,” said Dhlamini.
Historically we have been told that we are not big enough and we do not have capacity to handle big mandates. We have responded to those concerns. We are consolidating so that when we approach the private sector we demonstrate that we can deliver on our promises”.
Dhlamini said opportunities for growth are plenty within the highly dynamic South African economy. Companies are hungry for growth and in that are increasingly beefing up their corporate governance systems. “SekelaXabiso is well positioned to partner with clients to add value to their business”.
She said SekelaXabiso was well on track to achieve its 2020 Vision. The vision is to create a R1bn turnover per annum organisation by the year 2020. “We are on course to create a home grown organisation of scale that can compete head to head with international players. Our vision comes with a critical social message of self affirmation. We are carving a path to create opportunities for our people to develop prospective professional careers”.
“This should go a long way towards changing perceptions. We as Africans need to prove to ourselves that we can do things for ourselves. For a long time told we have been living with this perception that we cannot do things for ourselves. We see SekelaXabiso as a small contribution towards changing that perception”.
Coming out of a bottom up business development model, the SekelaXabiso story makes for a remarkable chapter of black economic empowerment (BEE).