Jonathan Ruwanika, a chartered accountant and Mandela Rhodes Scholar, is a trailblazer at the nexus of finance, education, and innovation. As the finance manager at PEP Stores, he oversees the financial well-being of two of the fastest-growing divisions with a combined revenue of over R3 billion. Jonathan’s shift from financial services to retail was propelled by PEP’s unwavering dedication to addressing the challenges faced by historically marginalised consumers, a mission that deeply resonated with him.
In addition to his pivotal role at PEP, Jonathan co-founded Innovative CFO, where he pioneers transformative finance strategies for pre-series A technology start-ups. His expertise lies in helping these businesses establish robust finance functions crucial for scaling. Notably, his strategic shift towards tech start-ups in the pre-series A phase, often backed by venture funding, stemmed from a profound insight. He recognised the growing need for robust financial processes and reporting in the venture ecosystem, yet he noticed a lack of highly skilled financial experts, which was impeding the progress of these startups. By reorienting Innovative CFO’s focus, Jonathan successfully retained clients whose combined annual revenue surpassed R23 million.
Jonathan’s professional journey commenced at Deloitte. During his tenure, he made significant contributions as a member of the Millennial Advisory Board, a group assembled by Deloitte Africa’s executive committee. His insights reshaped human resource strategies, anticipating future work trends and their impact on the professional services landscape.
Beyond his corporate achievements, Jonathan is a dedicated mentor and advocate for education. He co-founded the Young Professional Africa podcast, a transformative platform that has inspired countless African youth through enlightening conversations. Rooted in empathy for the challenges faced by underserved African youth, this innovative digital initiative emerged from Jonathan’s extensive network and mentorship experiences. To date, the podcast has been downloaded more than 11 000 times in more than 70 countries.
Jonathan’s commitment to shaping the future of finance professionals is evident through his role on SAICA’s Chartered Accountant Professional Development sub-committee, where he directly influences the trajectory of chartered accountants. His dedication to making an impact was recognised by the Mandela Rhodes Foundation, which fully funded his master’s in development finance at the University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business.
Looking ahead, Jonathan envisions creating a significant impact by establishing a fractional chief financial officer arm within major venture capital funds across Africa. Simultaneously, he plans to invest in start-ups that hold the potential to empower millions of African youth, enabling their active participation in the global economy through the vast opportunities offered by the Internet. His vision reflects a profound commitment to shaping a brighter future for the African continent.