Amasi Mwela, young CEO of Fundi-former Eduloan, talks education finance and career planning
The Future CFO Magazine Junior Editor Buhlebenkosi Mkandla, hosted Mr Amasi Mwela to discuss barriers to educational attainment for young people and how his company responds to these challenges, as well as regarding his journey to and as CEO of South Africa's leading student loan solution provider, the recently rebranded FUNDI previously known as EDULOAN.
To start off please share with us, who is Amasi Mwela?
I often refer to myself as an emerging African global citizen. As the third child in a family of 5 children, I learnt very quickly to compete and differentiate myself to get attention (laughs), an attribute that has done me a world of good in the corporate space. With my father having been a well-qualified Mine Metallurgist and my mother a teacher, there was no escaping Education in our household. Although I may not have been the most intelligent person growing up, I always dreamt of doing something that would make a difference in the world we live in. The road I have travelled to get to where I am today has included important lessons which have helped me grow and shape a clear view of the world and my role in it.
What motivates you in life?
I’m driven by clear goals, pushing to break just about every societal barrier that’s been placed in front of me. In general, I don’t allow anyone to place limits on what I can or can’t do. This quest for excellence has been shaped by my own life and observing my parents’ lives. We were fortunate enough to have a father who set very high standards for us and an ambitious mother who
achieved the impossible in business. They set a great example for us and I want to better it.
Did you have a Career Plan to become CEO and have you stuck to it?
Yes I was always very deliberate about what I wanted to do and where I wanted to end up. This had to do with trying to prove the point that where I was versus where I could be in life are two different things.
After I got my first job 13 or 14 years ago, I think I was 22 years old then, I realised that my personality and strengths were more suited towards strategic decision making. I started
looking at job specs for CEOs very early on, learning what sort of skills I needed to develop and what qualifications I needed to acquire so that I was clear about what I was moving towards. I developed my Career Path around those specs.
I started in Finance, five years later I moved into Customer Service, learning the importance of Relationship Management and also doing a bit of Sales. This led to an opportunity in Operations which I eventually headed up at Old Mutual iWYZE before moving across to Eduloan as Chief Operating Officer. I became CEO in November 2015 and soon thereafter started moving the company towards a new future for itself as Fundi.
This collective journey has exposed me to more disciplines than most. My qualifications which includes an MBA also undoubtedly prepared me for this opportunity. So, certainly I have stuck to my plan – which I think is something a lot of people, especially young people struggle with.
What is most exciting about being CEO of Fundi?
I joined Fundi, formerly known as Eduloan because I wanted to make a significant contribution in the Education space based on my own challenges and experiences whilst I was a University Student. I actually gave up an exciting opportunity at Old Mutual because I was – and still am – convinced that Fundi can help define and shape the Education Finance industry and build a sustainable organisation into the future. The opportunity to make a tangible difference in the lives of Ordinary Students who otherwise wouldn’t have a chance to study if we didn’t exist is one I do not take for granted.
You’ve recently relaunched as Fundi. Why the change? What is the significance of the name?
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