Taking FASSET to All Corners of South Africa

FASSET, the Finance and Accounting Services Sector Education and Training Authority, plays a pivotal role in South Africa’s pursuit of nurturing skilled professionals in the finance and accounting domain. Established in 2000 under the auspices of the Skills Development Act of 1998, FASSET’s mandate is to bridge the gap between education and employment by equipping individuals with the necessary skills and qualifications required by the finance and accounting services sector. FASSET’s role is not just pivotal but indispensable in fostering economic growth and ensuring financial stability across the nation. 

CEO Ayanda Mafuleka’s journey to leading FASSET embodies the organisation’s ethos of empowerment through education and mentorship. Ayanda’s personal narrative is deeply intertwined with FASSET’s mission, as she recounts the crucial role the organisation played in her academic journey, providing vital support and resources that led to her qualification as a Chartered Accountant (CA).

“FASSET was very instrumental in my journey to qualifying as a Chartered Accountant (CA); it fully funded me with academic support for both Part 1 and Part 2 of the SAICA Board exams,” Ayanda explains to Public Sector Leaders. “It gives me tremendous satisfaction that FASSET is still funding other aspiring CAs because we know that the transition from basic education to higher education is one which can be marred with several obstacles which may lead to impeding the attainment of one’s qualification.”

This transformative experience instilled in her a profound sense of gratitude and a resolute commitment to paying it forward, ensuring that others, particularly those from underprivileged backgrounds, are afforded similar opportunities for growth and advancement. Grounded in the principles of servant leadership and social responsibility, Ayanda’s leadership philosophy underscores her unwavering dedication to uplifting individuals and communities through transformative education and skills development initiatives.

“Honestly my own background has been the drive for me to be the agent of the change I want to see in the sector. My passion for the work I do really lies in leaving a legacy of paying it forward because the same has been done for me. I am inspired by the likes of both my paternal and maternal grandmothers, Ms Nonkululeko Gobodo, the first black female CA, Mme Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first female president in Africa. They have influenced my thinking that nothing is impossible for an African child! It is through my work that I foster the same belief, and always want to afford endless opportunities for an African child to unleash their God-given potential.”

Before assuming the role of CEO at FASSET in 2019, Ayanda accumulated a wealth of experience in the corporate realm, holding various executive positions, including that of Chief Financial Officer (CFO). Her tenure as CFO not only honed her expertise in financial management and organisational leadership but also provided her with a deep understanding of the intricacies of the finance and accounting sector.

Armed with this wealth of experience and insight, Ayanda embarked on her journey as CEO, poised to steer FASSET through a period of transformation and growth. Under her stewardship, FASSET has witnessed remarkable strides in financial performance, operational efficiency, and stakeholder engagement, solidifying its position as a trailblazer in the realm of skills development and education.

“My previous roles as a CFO propelled me to hitting the ground running as soon as I joined FASSET, because I found FASSET faced with an audit outcome where there were instances of non-compliance raised by the Auditor-General of South Africa, amounting to a staggering R69-million, as well as organisational performance challenges,” she says. “So, my wealth of knowledge and experience as CFO came in handy while, together with the team, I guided the organisation to obtain the clean audit outcome and performance that to date is above 90%. I have been privileged to have led the teams that have turned around financial and audit outcomes in organisations like National Credit Regulator, Department of Home Affairs.”

Recognising the persistent gender imbalance in senior management positions, FASSET has been involved in initiatives such as the Women’s Leadership Development Programme, implemented by the Wits Business School and International Women Forum of South Africa (in partnership with Duke Corporate Education) aimed at empowering women and providing them with the tools and resources needed to ascend to leadership roles.

Each year, The Women Creating Wealth, in partnership with the Graca Machel Trust, targets around 2 500 SMMEs, along with the 600 benefitting from other programmes. Furthermore, FASSET remains unwavering in its commitment to championing the rights and opportunities of individuals with disabilities and other marginalised groups, forging partnerships with advocacy organisations to ensure inclusivity and accessibility across all facets of education and professional development.

“It is humbling to note that these programmes have been very impactful as they have produced among many, one of the Deputy Governors of the South African Reserve Bank, Dr Mampho Modise as the alumni of the Programme. Our focus has also been on the people living with disabilities, through fully funded programmes from high school through to the workplace where we fund them for maths, English and accounting programmes, bursary programmes and internships to facilitate entry into the FAS sector.” Aligned with national priorities and legislative frameworks, FASSET plays a pivotal role in addressing the skills gap and driving economic development.


As a Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA), FASSET collaborates with stakeholders from both the public and private sectors to design and implement programmes that not only meet the evolving needs of employers but also empower learners to thrive in a dynamic and competitive landscape. By aligning its programmes with national imperatives such as the National Development Plan (NDP) and the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan (ERRP), FASSET ensures that its interventions contribute meaningfully to economic growth, job creation, and social cohesion, thereby catalysing positive change at both individual and societal levels.

Along with strategic partners such as the National Youth Development Agency, IRBA, the Graca Machel Trust, and Associations for Cooperatives, FASSET has delivered SMME support programmes across various industries, equipping entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs with skills such as financial literacy. “There have been great strides that have been achieved by the FAS sector especially when one looks at the statistics from the formation of FASSET that about 52% employed by the sector are women (across all races), however at lower ranked occupations there is still a lot of work to be done to address this anomaly.

We have about 51 152 (Feb 2023) Chartered Accountants in South Africa with only 8 610 who are black Africans. There is still more transformation and inclusivity needed in the sector so that it becomes a sector for all.” Looking ahead, Ayanda envisions a future where the finance and accounting sector serves as a beacon of diversity, innovation, and inclusive growth. With technological advancements reshaping the industry landscape, FASSET remains steadfast in its commitment to equipping professionals with the digital skills and competencies needed to thrive in an increasingly digitised world.

Furthermore, Ayanda emphasises the importance of fostering a culture of lifelong learning and continuous professional development, ensuring that individuals remain agile, adaptable, and resilient in the face of rapid change and disruption. Ayanda’s leadership at FASSET exemplifies a resolute commitment to excellence, equity, and empowerment. “My leadership style leans toward servant leadership, because I lead to serve for the greater good of the organisation, communities, and the lives of our beneficiaries. Another vital aspect to grasp when it comes to driving transformation is that one needs to be rigorous in one’s approach and serve with determination and commitment as the journey is filled with hurdles,” says Ayanda.

Through her visionary leadership and strategic initiatives, she has propelled FASSET to new heights, positioning it as a catalyst for positive change within the finance and accounting sector. With a steadfast focus on inclusivity, innovation, and collaboration, FASSET under Ayanda’s guidance is poised to shape the future of South Africa’s economy and workforce, ensuring that all individuals have the opportunity to realise their full potential and contribute meaningfully to the nation’s prosperity and wellbeing.

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