Fulufhelo Siphuma, a qualified chartered account and wellness expert from Makonde village. Picture supplied.
“My mom was unemployed, so we sold sweet potatoes by the roadside until she went on to study nursing. I was left to take care of my younger sisters while I myself was still schooling.”
Fulufhelo Siphuma, a qualified chartered accountant (CA) and wellness expert, feels that her initial involvement in informal business as a sweet-potato seller had motivated her to study to become a chartered accountant.
“Today I know that the experience of selling sweet potatoes had inspired my business side,” she said. “In 2006, I was one of the top Grade 12 students in accounting who went on to meet the then Minister of Finance, Trevor Manuel. I was also named top business economics student in Limpopo Province.”
Siphuma, who hails from Makonde village, said that she grew up as an optimistic girl who did not believe in impossibilities, regardless of the many challenges she had to face. “I was not born with a silver spoon in the mouth,” she said. “I stayed in a village where there was no extrinsic motivation that could spur you on. But, in spite of the social, financial and quality-education challenges I faced, I passed Grade 12. I still believe that this is a sure confirmation that where there is a will, there is a way,” she said.
“As I got to varsity, I realised that there was a lack of black female CAs in the country,” she said. “I wanted to venture into this uncharted territory, so as to give others the courage and tools to walk in my footsteps.”
This highly motivated lady is also an advocate for fitness, which she believes promotes a healthy lifestyle. “I’m an ardent fitness activist who has been identified as the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants’ United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Champion (SDG 3-Ensure healthy),” she said. “In my varsity days, I had to fully focus on exercising to keep fit both mentally and physically. Given the complex nature of the accounting programme, it was almost impossible to do any other thing,” she explains. The hectic schedule meant that Siphuma neglected her fitness training for a while. “But I had to find something that would increase my energy levels and keep me upbeat. So, I started going back into fitness.”
In 2020, Siphuma entered the young CAs (SA) achievers’ competition, which is hosted by the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA). “I am currently in the top 35 of the under 35s,” she said. “The competition recognises young achievers who are not only excelling in their professional capacity, but those also making a meaningful contribution to society.”
“I was prepared from a very young age to change the narrative and leave a lasting legacy. To be the one that brings about change that helped develop my singlemindedness of purpose,” she said. “Although much remains to be done, I can say I have brought about hope to the community I grew up in, which is testament to my name Fulufhelo (which means hope).”
Date:12 December 2020 - By: Tshifhiwa Mukwevho
Tshifhiwa Given Mukwevho was born in 1984 in Madombidzha village, not far from Louis Trichardt in the Limpopo Province. After submitting articles for roughly a year for Limpopo Mirror's youth supplement, Makoya, he started writing for the main newspaper. He is a prolific writer who published his first book, titled A Traumatic Revenge in 2011. It focusses on life on the street and how to survive amidst poverty. His second book titled The Violent Gestures of Life was published in 2014.