Johannesburg – The growth and sustainability of businesses depends on how informed the owners or directors are about the strategic direction of their businesses. This then requires a qualified and proficient advisor for the business or personnel to achieve their competitive advantage.
Nonyaniso Swana, 53, is the founder and managing director of Imani Business Advisory Services, which is a 100% black woman-owned company whose primary focus is offering business solutions and human capital solutions aimed at enhancing organisational and individual performance.
Since Imani was established in 2007, the company has successfully accrued a wealth of experience in accounting, finance, and training and development for the public and private sectors.
Among other services that Imani provides is management consulting services, accounting services, VAT recovery and review services, debt collection services and training development services.
Imani was established while Swana was completing her MBA at Wits Business School. “After four years in a corporate job, I felt a sense of discontent that I couldn’t shake off. I knew as I resigned that I wanted to get into the business, but had no idea what kind of business I wanted.” Swana said.
“One of the topical issues of the time was the large number of municipalities that were getting poor audit outcomes. We felt we could contribute to the local government space by offering solutions that seek to close the performance gap that existed in municipal financial management and reporting,” she further said.
Some of the entities that they work with are Amathole District Municipality, Engcobo Local Municipality, Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality, and Joe Morolong Municipality.
Swana said the first challenge she faced at the inception of Imani was access to finance. They applied for funding from government agencies but were rejected, which resulted in the company starting slowly but organically.
She said Imani was started from her dining room table with one employee (herself) and a laptop. “At some point, I was moonlighting as a part-time lecturer at a private university in order to have money for my living expenses and office supplies.”
The second challenge Imani faced was attracting the relevant personnel. “We developed our own people. We hired people with no experience, but the right combination of qualifications and soft skills gave them on-the-job training and offered them bursaries to further their studies.”
The third challenge was access to coaches and mentors. Fortunately, Imani’s directors and staff members are members of professional bodies such as the South African Institute of Charted Accountants (SAICA), the South African Institute of Tax Professionals (SAIT), the South African Institute of Professional Accountants (SAIPA), Institute of Internal Auditors South Africa (IIA-SA), Association of Certified Charted Accountants (ACCA) and Independent Regulatory Board for Auditors (IRBA).
Swana made sure to use the mentioned professional bodies to their advantage.
According to Swana, what sets Imani apart from similar companies is that they are a value-based company that is customer-centric in its approach to business. In recent times they have had to standardise their processes as the company grew so that they get the same or similar outcomes irrespective of where they are operating.
The company is moving to Rosebank on Jan Smuts Avenue, and she is positive that this move will boost the company’s visibility. For Swana and the company, it has been their task to give back to women and children through toiletries drives for local shelters for abused women and children in Hillbrow.
She encourages young people to stay the course and be deliberate about the process that takes them forward in life. “Don’t be distracted by the early successes of your peers. Find your cadence and work with it.”