Melissa Jacobs CA(SA) is the founder and owner of MJ Chartered Accountants. Unlike other accounting firms, hers is fiercely devoted to the preservations of lions. Her love for wildlife began as a child and knowing that the lion populations are seriously endangered triggered her to do something about it. With an estimated 20 000 lions left in the entire world, when she read about a conservation project in Kruger Magazine, she saw it as an opportunity to make a difference. She is also in the process of setting up an NPO called Save the African Lion. Here is her story …
What sets MJ Chartered Accountants apart?
I always say we treat our clients’ business as our own. We want what is best for them – to give them accurate, useful figures on time, every time and to plan their taxes in such a way that they pay the least amount of tax legitimately.
You describe your all-ladies team as a pack of lionesses? Tell us more about your team?
We are six ladies comprising me and Suné Alexander (who are both CAsSA), two senior accountants, one junior accountant and one office manager. We just work só well together, like a ‘pride of lionesses’. We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses and use that to the team’s advance, not as a threat. We can be hard on each other if needed, but also nurturing if needed.
Tell us more about MJ Chartered Accountants?
We are a full-spectrum accounting and auditing firm and are in the process to be registered as a SAICA training office. Suné Alexander and I just qualified as assessors, so we are making good progress. I have a special interest in and love for tax, and that is the ‘glue’ that holds everything together. We are also an all-ladies team.
You are very passionate about preserving wildlife, specifically lions?
Wildlife and the bush are a part of me – take that away and big part of me would have died with it. And when you look at wildlife, I have a special love for lions. Everything about them! The way they behave, the way they stick together as a pride, etc, etc. (I can write a book here.) And with that, we incorporate the lion and lion behaviour in our office culture. We are fiercely focused, we are a pride of lionesses, we can be fierce (with the tax man …) and gentle with our customers and each other.
When did your love for wildlife begin and what made you want to make a difference in this area?
My love for wildlife started when I was little, watching videos my granny taped of wildlife programmes in the olden days. I would watch them over and over and over again, but we never went to Kruger as children. I went to Kruger for the first time with my husband in my 20s.
We always look at someone to look after / save our animals. The passion I have for lions and the astounding decline in the numbers of the wild lions really woke up an internal war in myself, and I said to myself that I am going to do something. I was going to run the 2020 Comrades for lion conservation, then that got cancelled. 2021 was another shocker, so this year I am going to run the Comrades and see if I can raise funds for lion conservation.
What exactly are you doing to make a difference?
I have been in contact with Marnus Roodbol from the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) after I read about a lion conservation project in Kruger Magazine, and I said this is it, this is where I will start. So MJ will donate R20 000 towards the collaring of lions to replace the batteries. I believe that this is something that will grow from strength to strength. I am in the process to set up an NPO called Save the African Lion. MJ will be the initial donor of into this NPO and the aim is to keep on donating. The funds will be used for specific lion conservation projects.
How can people get involved with your lion-saving project?
They can email me at email@example.com. We are also creating social media platforms where people can see what we are doing. Details will be announced on our Facebook page and my LinkedIn profile.
What advice would you give other practitioners to run a successful accounting practice?
There will always happen something that you didn’t expect − things will go wrong, so make peace with that. Resolve whatever come across your path with a good attitude and a grateful heart. Your attitude determines so many things in life, things many people don’t even realise.
Your purpose in life?
I am determined to leave a legacy when I am not here anymore. I know I have far to go, but I want to create something that will secure the future of our wild lions. If I have done that, I have fulfilled my purpose in life!