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Customer Success Stories

Institute of Management Accounting and Strategy

Institute of Management Accounting and Strategy

Hillbrow has always been a notoriously impoverished and dangerous neighborhood in the heart of Johannesburg’s CBD. While there have been improvements to the area in the last few years, many of the buildings are still hijacked by criminal gangs who have forcibly taken over from legitimate landlords. City Improvements District’s and other organisations are trying to bring about change. However, part of the long-term solution is coming about by private schools and institutes that are creating access to opportunities that these neighborhoods would otherwise not have.

With a handful of public and private schools in the area, few children complete their schooling. For those that do there are not many options for further education due to their level of education and the lack of affordability. The odds are stacked against them from the start and impact any job potential they could have. But on the edge of Hillbrow in a nearby suburb you’ll find one of the campuses for the Institute of Management Accounting and Strategy (IMAS).

Nkosinathi Thela, CEO of IMAS, saw the need to address the shortage of skilled accountants and finance managers identified by the National Skills Fund South Africa. Established in 2013 he aimed to not only broaden access to high-quality professional accountancy education for aspiring CIMA accountants, but also provide access to those in poorer areas of Johannesburg that don’t have the means to get to colleges further away from where they reside.

With neighbouring suburbs like Hillbrow close-by, educational institutes like this are part of what can drive change. IMAS is a more affordable alternative, with diplomas costing less than half that of degrees or diplomas at universities or other private colleges. They also provide further education options for those with a matric pass who have a minimum level 4 in English and Maths, or level 3 in Maths Literacy. These requirements for access are much broader and more inclusive than some other educational institutes which don’t, or can’t, always take into account the socio-economic background of each student so that they can create opportunity where there often isn’t any.

As a result, Nkosinathi and his team have seen more and more students registering for courses year after year. In 2016 they saw 461 students walk through their doors. Since then their goal for 2017 has been to see 800 registered students on this campus.

“Lulalend took more into consideration than just the type of business. They were willing to lend to our organisations despite IMAS not being your typical business.” Nkosinathi Thela


But because they are still quite new, working capital has been one of the biggest challenges for Nkosinathi to overcome. Overheads such as rent and salaries are necessities that allow him to keep serving the students. In early 2017, he found that a shortage of working capital was threatening growth and the sustainability for one of their campuses. He was worried that they would have to shut down and come up with contingency plans to accommodate students at their other campuses. This would have meant trying to find ways for students to get to other campuses further away, and would have impacted the jobs of several campus employees.

Initially Nkosinathi looked for access to working capital through traditional lenders. But because IMAS was an educational institute, and only a few years old, they were not willing to assist. They felt the business was too young to be offered any credit facilities. Unfortunately, most traditional lenders don’t have the ability to properly assess educational organisations and simply just deny them access to funding.

Nkosinathi started looking at alternative options and said when he came across Lulalend he found a trusted partner. “Lulalend took more into consideration than just the type of business. They were willing to lend to our organisations despite IMAS not being your typical business.” As a result, Nkosinathi says they have been able to use the funding to cover their increase in rental costs at their bigger premises, together with ensuring that they can retain their staff and continue providing an excellent service that attracts more students. They have already seen 500 intakes for 2017 and expect to be on track to reach their goal of 800 by July already.

“Our students come from all walks of life and different economic backgrounds. Some of them are from lower income homes where the injustices of the past have placed them at a disadvantage. These are some of our most motivated students, trying to build a better future for themselves. Many of these students study part-time because they can’t afford to put their jobs on hold. They rely on that for a steady income for their families,” says Nkosinathi. “The qualifications they receive from IMAS will help open doors to opportunities that would otherwise no be accessible to them. With a CIMA Professional Qualification, recognised worldwide as the most relevant global finance qualification for business, our students are no longer limited to one or two career options when they finish. This qualification can help pursue further studies or a career in investment banking, professional accounting, auditing, financial reporting, fund management, education, corporate finance, management consulting and even entrepreneurship.”

In an economic climate where Labour Force Surveys for 2014 and Statistics South Africa estimated that 60% of workers earn R4 200 a month (roughly $318), a CIMA qualified accountant can potentially earn up to 10 times more than that. A bump up into that financial bracket can have a significant impact on IMAS students as individuals, as well as their families and their greater community. IMAS will see their first student, who is in the final level of their studies, qualify shortly as a CIMA Accountant in 2017. If they reach their registration goal this year, another 800 students could follow them in the years to come. That’s 800 students with better opportunities available to them and better earning potential ahead of them.

“Being a part of helping Nkosinathi with funding means we have also been able to be a part of helping IMAS on the road to achieving their 800-registration goal. And we know that the bigger picture is that those 800 students will go on to build our economy. They will become employees of a local business and have the potential to start their own – continuing the cycle of job creation in South Africa. At Lulalend I never want us to lose sight of being an impact-minded lender that offers financing to small businesses for their immediate needs but also their long-term success and the far-reaching effects that can bring with it.” says Trevor Gosling, CEO of Lulalend.

Lulalend is behind businesses like IMAS who play a meaningful role in broadening access to high quality professional accounting education. And we’re glad to be able to provide them with access to business financing that can help them prepare their students for careers that will have a positive impact on their lives, and the lives of those around them.

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