Muzikayise Mtshweni. Photo: Supplied

DURBAN - As a child, Muzikayise Mtshweni dreamed of becoming a chartered accountant - but the halls of corporate finance were worlds away from the dusty township of Mhluzi, near Middelburg. 

Today, this ambitious young graduate of Anglo American Coal South Africa’s Community Scholarship Scheme is serving his articles at one of the world’s most prestigious accounting firms.

Mtshweni said, "My mother is a domestic worker, my father a petrol attendant. So, I knew that because of our financial situation, the costs of attending university meant that my dreams would remain just that". 

He added, "Through God’s grace and mercy, I received a scholarship from Anglo American Coal, which funded my studies from my first year all the way through post-graduate studies. If it wasn’t for this scholarship, I wouldn’t be where I am today". 

Muzikayise is among the first wave of 33 students to have graduated from university since the scheme’s inception in 2014. 

He earned his Bachelor of Accounting Science degree and a postgraduate qualification (CTA) at the University of Johannesburg before taking up a position as a trainee accountant at Ernst & Young’s Sandton headquarters.

Unlike Anglo American’s traditional bursary scheme, Anglo American Coal South Africa’s Community Scholarship beneficiaries are not required to study in fields related to mining, nor do they have an employment obligation to the company on completion of their studies. Scholarships are awarded exclusively to learners living in host communities and must come from financially-constrained backgrounds. 

The scheme has invested more than R30 million into the education of 105 students since 2014. Community scholarship beneficiaries have studied in fields ranging from medicine and marketing to safety management and actuarial science.

Each scholarship includes full tuition costs and living expenses, including accommodation and meals. Added to this, students receive guidance and support from project partner Career Wise for the duration of their studies.

"I wouldn’t be where I am today without the scholarship. But what’s amazing is that it isn’t just about the financial assistance. I had a mentor who kept checking in to make sure that I was well, and for that, I am grateful," Mtshweni.

In three years’ time, he’ll be a qualified CA, with the world at his feet. Mtshweni, "Even though I’m living my dream, I’ll never forget where I came from, or the company that made it possible for me to live my dream. Hopefully, I will one day be in a position to help other young people from backgrounds like mine to make their way in the world". 

BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE