This interview first appeared on Accountancy SA : Click Here

Rhangani Mbhalati, a charismatic leader and founder of Chapu Chartered Accountants, shares his story from humble beginnings to building a thriving company that now operates in five provinces.


Rhangani grew up in Burgersdorp, a village outside Tzaneen in Limpopo.He only became aware of the CA designation while in Grade 11 and even then he was not doing mathematics – one of the prerequisite subjects to enrol for the BCom Accounting degree. While doing Grade 12 at Phangasasa High School and motivated by the desire to change the course of his family, he took the challenge of switching subjects and started doing maths and science.

‘When I started mathematics at matric, I found it to be logical and I was convinced that I would do well since it was easy for me to understand. I managed to score a B in mathematics which enabled me to enrol for BCom Accounting at the University of Port Elizabeth (now Nelson Mandela University),’ he explains.


After completing his BCom Accounting degree, Rhangani’s first job experience was doing his SAICA articles at PwC, where he later progressed to a managerial level. He says that opportunity provided him with valuable experience in various industries. ‘During my stay with PwC, I gained valuable private sector experience. I was working in a division called Consumer and Industrial Products and Services. It was a broad division which gave me access to a wide range of clients and sectors. I learned a lot and that set a tone for everything that I do even today.’

After completing his articles, he ventured into banking by joining Absa Corporate and Investment Banking where he gained exposure in corporate banking and financial management. He then left the banking sector to join the Quality Control Business Unit in the office of the Auditor-General of South Africa (AGSA) where he gained exposure in the public sector. ‘I then left AGSA to join MNB Chartered Accountants as a Managing Director. It was my role at MNB which gave me a platform to run a practice. After leaving MNB, I founded Chapu Chartered Accountants,’ says Rhangani.

Rhangani also boosts with international experience which he gained during his secondment to PwC in the United States where he worked as a senior associate in assurance services.


As the founder of Chapu Chartered Accountants – a professional services firm of Chartered Accountants, Registered Auditors, Consultants and Professional Entrepreneurs − Rhangani steers a 100% black-owned and managed company. Chapu Chartered Accountants currently employs over 50 full-time employees across five South African provinces, namely Gauteng, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Free State and North West.

‘We have a young and vibrant team of qualified experts ready to serve client’s needs. As a compliant entity, our workmanship and processes guarantee exceptional results that ensure satisfactory results. Our philosophies guide us as an organisation to remain focused on maintaining the highest quality standards in our offering. This supports our commercial model and ethical approach as we grow as a reputable company in the industry.’

In explaining the meaning and origin behind the company’s name, Rhangani said ‘Chapu’ is extracted from the clan praises of his maternal grandfather, Kokwana Masinge, who often referred to himself as Chapu-Chapu.

The services of Chapu Chartered Accountants include audit and assurance, advisory and consulting, Auditor-General solutions, and specialised public sector solutions.


While acknowledging the difficulties the company faced in the beginning such as the absence of cash flow, Chapu Chartered Accountants has had incredible highs since commencing with its full operations in 2018. Says Rhangani: ‘We have been able to create stability of the firm in terms of low staff turnover, create employment, empower women, and youth from previously disadvantaged backgrounds, attract credible and highly competent individuals, establish a consulting business unit, establish quality assurance and technical business units, and achieve a consistent growth rate of over 40% pa in the past six years.’


With Chapu Chartered Accountants now operating in five provinces, Rhangani says the company aims to further expand to other provinces in the future, however, the current focus is on laying a strong foundation in existing provinces. ‘We have an expansion plan in our strategy. Our current focus is on the quality of our services to ensure that when we expand, we do not lose the Chapu identity and foundations.’

Passionate about entrepreneurship and advocating for an entrepreneurial mindset among youth, Rhangani says when he started Chapu Chartered Accountants he wanted to innovate without limits. ‘As the first graduate in my family and one of the few in my community who had a work opportunity, I felt the need to make a difference and improve the livelihoods of my family and my community. I saw entrepreneurship as an opportunity to make a meaningful contribution to my family and my community. I have created opportunities for some family members and people from my community and that for me is the best achievement which I could not reach as an employee.’


Despite the COVID-19 pandemic leaving many businesses with a heavy burden, Rhangani says tough decisions had to be taken to ensure the company’s sustainability in the long run. He says the challenges experienced during the pandemic enabled the company to expand. ‘We had to close two business units which were not doing well and focus on strengthening and expanding business units which are core of the firm. Post COVID-19, we were able to introduce new service offerings,’ he explains.

‘I must say that despite all the challenges experienced due to COVID-19 and its restrictions, there are positive aftereffects which benefit the business right now. It is my view that the outbreak helped fast-track the nation into the Fourth Industrial Revolution. We took bold steps to invest in technology which makes doing business more efficient and helpful in managing multiple offices.’


To support Chapu Chartered Accountants’ strategy in terms of professionalisation of staff which entails recruiting, developing, and retaining high-calibre staff, Rhangani recently completed his MPhil in Development Finance with Stellenbosch Business School. He says the programme is aligned with his interest in making a meaningful contribution towards the development of Sub-Saharan Africa. ‘As a firm, we invest in the education of our staff as part of ensuring we professionalise our people. I believe as professionals, one of our roles in society is to solve problems and we lose our relevance as professionals when we cannot lead solutions to our clients and society at large.’


Over the next five years, Chapu Chartered Accountants aims to be a mid-tier audit firm in South Africa with strong strategic alliances or partnerships in Sub-Saharan Africa and beyond.‘We will continue to offer our core solutions in external audit, consulting, internal audit, and specialised solutions while strengthening and expanding the consulting practice offering information management services with a focus on information security standards, certification, maturity assessment, continuous process analysis and data analytics.’

Rhangani Mbhalati’s journey and his vision for Chapu Chartered Accountants serve as an inspiration for what we all could achieve if we put our minds to it.

Sandile Mathonsi, Internal Communications, Brand Intern at SAICA

Credit: Accountancy SA

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