Chartered account Lindani Dhlamini, CEO of SekelaXabiso says she wants to grow her firm's auditing brand across the continent. Image: Bhekikaya Mabaso.
JOHANNESBURG - A trailblazing  business executive from the dusty streets of Umlazi has focused her expertise in helping other black professionals.

Lindani Dhlamini, who dumped the corporate ladder to establish one of the country’s well known accounting firms, Xabiso Chartered Accountants, is now training her her sights on the development of black accountants in South Africa.

Dhlamini said she merged Xabiso with Sekela Consulting in 2012 to achieve her goals.

The new enterprise, SkX Protiviti, is now an empire that rakes in annual earnings of more than R200 million.

But the focus has not changed.

“I really want to create employment for black people, that is my vision,” Dhlamini says. “When I trained at an international firm, there were very few black people, and there were certain areas of business they couldn't look at.  The biggest motivator was to create employment for black professionals.”

Like Xabiso, SkX Protiviti is a risk advisory and business consulting firm with nearly 250 in its employ.

Its clients include companies that enjoy a top listing on the JSE.

SkX Protiviti is also the country’s second biggest auditing firm after Sizwe Ntsaluba Gobodo.

Dhlamini says the company is 50 percent owned by women.  “It’s multidisciplinary, we employ accountants, lawyers, computer scientists, engineers and supply chain specialists, not just accountants,” she says. “You will find quite diverse qualifications within the business, though the minimum requirement to be an employee is a degree.”

Last year SkX Protiviti was accepted into the prestigious and highly profitable global network, American-based Protiviti, of leading accounting firms, which she says “hit R1 billion” in earnings recently.  

Dhlamini is clear on arrangement with the US based network.

“Protiviti does not own our company, it is a global network, and we are a member of the network,”  she says.

Dhlamini tells how she left a cushy job in the corporate world to venture on her won. 

In 2003, she founded Xabiso Chartered Accountants.  The merger with Sekela Consulting in 2012, not only perched Dhlamini at the head of the  second biggest black-owned auditing firm with annual earnings of more than R200 million at the time, but led her firm to adopt its 2020 vision to improve annual earnings to R1 billion by 2020.  

“We are getting there,” she says “but we are nowhere near there.”  

Chartered account Lindani Dhlamini, CEO of SekelaXabiso. Image: Bhekikaya Mabaso.

Dhlamini says she ventured into the unknown when 90 percent of small business startups were failing within the first three years of their founding.

Today her daring expertise is now one of the most sought after in the highest echelon of top companies, corporations and financier entities.

She has served on the boards of the Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa, Old Mutual Investment Group SA, Afrocentric Investment Corporation and Mustek. She is
currently the audit committee chairperson of JSE-listed entities, Afrocentric and Mustek.

The alliance with Protiviti, she says, will open more doors for the firm.

It will also give it access to global operations.  

“Being a local firm, we have often found it difficult to compete with established global firms in penetrating the private sector,” Dhlamini says. “We are perceived as not having the necessary depth and skill to service some of the bigger private sector clients.  We joined Protiviti to address this challenge. Through this membership we have access to global expertise, thought leadership and best practice methodologies to be able to service any company anywhere in the world.”

Dhlamini’s trailblazing efforts have not gone unnoticed.  

In 2006, she was recognised as an outstanding entrepreneur when she won the Black Business Quarterly magazine’s New Entrepreneur of the Year Award.  

Ten years later,  the hard-as-nails businesswoman won the CNBC All Africa Business Leaders Award (Southern Africa):  Business Woman of the Year.  

As a chartered accountant with more than 20 years worth of experience in the auditing profession and an MBA from the University of Liverpool MBA, Dhlamini says the business has grown way beyond her expectations.

“The business (Xabiso) was started in 2003 with a loan of R1.5 million from Umsobomvu Youth Fund.  It was repaid within two years of starting the business.  The growth of the business has been self-funded,” she says.

Before becoming the mover-and-shaker she is today, Dhlamini completed a computer science degree and a conversion to a BCom (Accounting) at the University of Cape Town.  

She went on to work for an international auditing firm before calling it quits after six years.

Today, she has her sights set on the competitive global auditing environment.

“My vision is to successfully lead SkX to become not just a locally-recognised company but a globally-recognised company which still continues to contribute to the South African economy,” she says.

And she has not forgotten where she comes from.

She says SkX Protiviti has partnered with the St Mary’s Foundation to fund young girls from townships to access high quality education at some of SA’s top schools.  “We are funding 16 schoolchildren across the country. Through the partnership, SekelaXabiso also pays for school and sports uniforms and grocery parcels – including essential toiletries such as sanitary pads,” says Dhlamini. 

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