Stellenbosch University
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SoA equips small businesses with key accounting skills
Author: Daniel Bugan
Published: 25/10/2023

The School of Accountancy (SoA) continued its quest to give back to the community through a recent workshop that equipped business owners in Phillippi and surrounding areas with the key accounting skills to better run their businesses. The aim was to ensure the businesses contribute to the community through employment creation and high-quality products and services.

SoA was approached by Incarceration Nations Network, a global network that supports and instigates prison reform efforts, to run the workshop after it heard of its ground-breaking Ex-Cell training programme. This Stellenbosch University (SU) social impact initiative teaches incarcerated individuals business acumen skills, such as developing a business plan.

Incarceration Nations Network selected and brought together the 20 business owners who attended the small business accounting workshop at SU on 12 October 2023. The business owners included a mixture of previously incarcerated individuals and up-and-coming youth in the community. The businesses ranged from clothing and décor businesses and traditional healing and township tour companies to a mobile coffee bar and social media and online retail stores.

The objective of the workshop was two-fold: To teach basic financial accounting, including an introduction to financial accounting and important definitions of concepts such as assets, liabilities, incomes and expenses. The second was to share critical accounting measures that a small business should be focusing on in order to be successful.

SoA lecturer and workshop coordinator Juan Ontong said: “This workshop was an opportunity for us to give back by providing basic accounting training to existing business owners. It was a way to help small businesses realise that accounting is an important way to manage their resources and to formalise their business operations. It will help them to understand where their business is at (currently) and where it is going (in the future), especially in this tough current economic environment.

“The workshop was also an opportunity to teach what we normally do to another group. So, in a way we are expanding our teaching to beyond our students in the classroom, to the community as well. It is important for us to understand the environment in which the university operates in the Stellenbosch and greater Western Cape region.”

He added: “Many of the participants have never been exposed to a higher education institution or formal training of this calibre. We hope that by giving them this basic accounting overview, we have potentially ignited in them a desire to continue along this path of learning.”

Other SoA lecturers who participated in the small business accounting workshop included Waldette Engelbrecht, Marlene Oosthuizen, Cecileen Greef and Armand Bruwer. Sher-Lee Arendse-Fourie also acted as the workshop coordinator.

Mthetheleli Ngxeke, South Africa Coordinator of the Global Freedom Fellowship Incarceration Nations Network, described the SU small business accounting workshop as an inspiration.

“The excitement among the participants to be part of the workshop was clear to see. They not only learnt a lot from the presenters but also from the other entrepreneurs and left the workshop more inspired,” said Ngxeke.

He said the feedback from the participants included that “the workshop was very educational and equipped us with very helpful tools to run a successful business” and “very informative and practical”.

The SoA has this year embarked on a number of collaborative social impact projects. Besides the small business accounting workshop and the Ex-Cell training programme, it has also partnered with the Western Cape Department of Education on a teacher enrichment programme. This programme aims to strengthen the teaching capabilities of economic and management sciences teachers in the Western Cape.

These initiatives are guided by the values and strategic themes embedded in SU's Vision 2040 as well as the National Development Plan.