Fast-expanding SA accounting firm Chapu sets its sights on international growth

Rhangani Mbhalati, founder and managing director of Chapu, says an entrepreneurial mindset is at the core of his company’s rapid growth. Photo: Supplied

Rhangani Mbhalati, founder and managing director of Chapu, says an entrepreneurial mindset is at the core of his company’s rapid growth. Photo: Supplied

Published Nov 26, 2023


Since its establishment almost six years ago, professional services firm Chapu Chartered Accountants has grown rapidly.

The 100% black-owned and managed company now employs a team of qualified experts in offices across five provinces, with its sights set on further expansion.

Founder and managing director Rhangani Mbhalati said an entrepreneurial mindset is at the core of the company’s swift growth.

Since commencing full operations in March 2018, Chapu has grown its staff complement to more than 50. It has a presence in five provinces – Gauteng, Mpumalanga, Limpopo, North West and Free State – and now has its sights set on expansion to countries beyond Africa.

Mbhalati said the business is in a growth phase as a result of investing in building a team that has bought into the organisation's vision. This was further complemented by executives who have an entrepreneurial mindset.

"However, we are not immune to the current global and national challenges, therefore we continuously relook [at] our core strategy and do risk assessment to ensure that the firm is always in a good position to sustain the operations and continue with the growth trajectory that has been achieved over the past couple of years," he said.

Mbhalati is a chartered accountant (SA) and a registered auditor with the Independent Regulatory Board for Auditors (Irba). He holds a BCom honours degree and is currently pursuing an MPhil in Development Finance at the Stellenbosch Business School.

He gained public sector exposure during the time he spent as an audit quality control specialist with the Auditor-General of South Africa, and as managing director of MNB Chartered Accountants. He also boasts international experience, which he gained during his secondment to PwC in the United States, where he worked as a senior associate in assurance services.

Mbhalati is also qualified assessor with the SA Institute of Chartered Accountants, and is involved in a number of community projects aimed at improving the standard of education in rural communities. He also serves on various boards and audit committees as part of giving back to the community.

Mbhalati said Chapu had made sound business adjustments in the past by discontinuing certain services that were not delivering the desired return on investment. The company had learned lessons from this and gone back to the drawing board to ensure it put in place the right investment strategies and resources for the future.

He said a core business strategy is centred around investing in people who buy into its vision.

To remain relevant, the company had invested heavily in upskilling and training their staff to ensure they continuously improved the quality of work they provided to clients and stakeholders.

"We are aware that change is inevitable, therefore we have positioned our firm to be agile, and [to] always be ready to adapt to the changes in professional standards, technical requirements and technology, so we remain relevant in the market," Mbhalati said.

Ncumisa Mkunqana, head of the firm’s quality assurance business unit. Photo: Supplied

However, the biggest challenge facing South Africa's accounting and auditing sector currently was a shortage of registered auditors, due to emigration. Chartered accountants were in demand globally, and remote working had presented more opportunities for CA’s to take global opportunities, Mbhalati said.

The firm's quality assurance business unit head, Ncumisa Mkunqana, said to find a solution to this difficulty, South Africa had to deal with the problem of too many pupils failing to pass Grade 12 mathematics.

The firm trades in a sector that has been rocked by corruption and complacency allegations, with some multinational companies either being at the heart of corrupt practices and others simply looking away when there are irregularities.

Mbhalati said ethics, integrity and accountability were the key values underpinning Chapu’s business operations.

"As a growing business, our reputation is everything to us. We prioritise audit quality at firm and engagement level. We have a dedicated quality and compliance business unit, which enforces quality of work produced and complies with the international standards on auditing."

While the accountancy sector had been through turbulent times, Chapu, as a newcomer in the industry, was more than up for the challenge with its vision and entrepreneurial spirit as it strategically grows its footprint.