When dreams come true. ‘Given all the resources I need to pursue my goals, I will continue to work even harder and give each day my best,’ says Daniel Ndlovu
Born and raised in Entumbane township, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, Daniel James Ndlovu completed his high school at Mpopoma High School in 2012. He enrolled at the University of Johannesburg (UJ) in 2016 and obtained his Bachelor of Accounting Degree (CA stream) at UJ in 2021.
After struggling to raise fees for his studies, there was a change of management at the restaurant where he was waitering, The Fat Zebra, which brought along the greatest blessing any student could dream of − the new owners decided to sponsor his studies. And to his greatest surprise, while celebrating his excellent year-end results his lecturer, Karlien Dempsey, by chance happened to walk into the restaurant for coffee with a friend and happily witnessed her student’s excitement after receiving his successful results.
Daniel is currently enrolled for the Postgraduate Diploma in Accounting Sciences. He is still at UJ and continues to work as a waiter at The Fat Zebra Restaurant, the company he joined in 2019.
How do you balance your work and studies?
Time management is key as it is not an easy thing to balance the two because at times one gets left behind in terms of schoolwork and at times with the work itself. I am very lucky to be working in a very flexible environment that provides me sufficient time to study.
How did the funding happen?
The new management took over the business two months after I joined The Fat Zebra and they showed great interest in each one of us as employees, getting to know us and finding out about our interests, goals and well-being. I brought up my dream of going back to university and I was amazed at their response that they will fund my tuition fees among other expenses. Obviously, they saw potential in me, which I appreciate.
This gesture has made me feel very blessed, honoured and privileged to pursue my dream of becoming a CA(SA). It is not easy for any individual in these tough economic times to take their personal hard-earned money and fund a random person they hardly know. I wish the management more financial blessings and long lives.
You achieved a distinction in Auditing (third year). How did you do it?
I struggled with Auditing during my second year until I had a one-on-one consultation with my lecturer at the time. From that point I changed my approach and study technique, and hence the distinction and overall great results.
Why did you choose the CA(SA) route?
My aunt inspired me when growing up. She was an auditor and financially well- off. After doing some research, I realised there is money but also prestige that comes with being a CA(SA). I also found out that many CEOs and CFOs of big corporates are CAs(SA).
What is your ultimate career objective?
I have great interest in having businesses, working in the farming industry, and also real estate. In addition, I want to create opportunities to share my knowledge with young people through mentorship, motivational talks and any other platforms available.
What legacy do you want to build?
Financial freedom. Hunger has pushed me to go over and above. I want to help build the youth who found themselves in tough and unfortunate situations. I would love to leave a very good trail of fortune not only for me but to benefit many young people.
- For someone funding their own studies − Focus on the end goal. There is so much happening in the workplace that sometimes one gets overwhelmed. Always have a positive attitude.
- Balancing work and studies − It can be very challenging but needs a lot of introspection. Allocate study time when you are more focused and productive depending on your work and other commitments. In addition, remember to still have fun, to relax and unwind.
From Avishkar Nagaser, The Fat Zebra owner
I’m a strong believer in higher education and the upliftment it can bring to one’s life. I could see that Daniel had a goal he wanted to achieve but was constrained by finances. I have been blessed with a good education and career, so I thought I would back Daniel to help him achieve his goals. I don’t have children of my own, so in a way, this was my way of helping him to progress his education. I am very happy and proud of him for the results he achieved. I feel that his results have increased his confidence levels which will help him progress further.
From Karlien Dempsey CA(SA), Daniel’s lecturer at UJ
How did you meet Daniel and what was your reaction to his story and achievement?
On the day we released our third-year results, I met a friend for coffee at Fat Zebra. As we walked into the restaurant there was a positive vibe, and it turned out that one of their best waiters, Danny, had just received his academic results. I was so pleased to be there to see the joy in his celebration of his exceptional academic results which Danny achieved while working as a waiter to support himself and studying full time. Danny’s perseverance and dedication to his studies are inspirational to all who know him.
How would you encourage students who have to work and study?
It is challenging to work and study at the same time, because it requires complete dedication and the ability to prioritise so that neither area is neglected. That said, there is a quote by Walt Disney: ‘If you can dream it, you can do it’, many people have been very successful in their studies while working simultaneously. The advice I give to all students is dream big and know that achieving a dream takes commitment and hard work. You need to know when to keep your head in your books and never be afraid to ask for help or support – you are not alone on this journey.
What was your reaction when you find out that The Fat Zebra are funding him?
I think the management at Fat Zebra is phenomenal: they are investing in Danny’s future knowing that he will not always work there and will certainly leave to start a training contract. The support and encouragement his colleagues at Fat Zebra give him is amazing. It is a true example of generosity and the positivity that comes from selfless acts for others.