We spoke to Sibongile Dyasi, a young woman who is passionate about construction. She shows us that through hard work, knowledge and research, we can all make a difference where we are.
BD: Please tell us who you are
SD: My name is Sibongile Dyasi I am the owner/director of Bucwengile Construction. I am 27 years old and based in Cape Town.
BD: What was your upbringing like?
SD: I was raised by my grandmother with my 6 cousins. All our parents were working in Johannesburg and would only come back during December holidays or we would go during June vacation to visit them in Johannesburg. I grew up in a very small rural town called Sterkspruit, which was not very developed at the time. There was no electricity or running tap water. We had to travel long distance to fetch water.
BD: Beyond high school, did you study further?
SD: Yes I did study further. I hold a National Diploma in Building and a Btech in Construction Management
BD: How is the construction field for a young black woman?
SD: The field is challenging for a young black woman because firstly it is dominated by men, so for everything that you wish to achieve or partake in, you must work twice as much to prove yourself. The skin colour also plays its role because not a lot of people have faith in your capabilities to do your job. Another big challenge was funding. I was also being offered “help” by people with no good intentions about my business and being underestimated because of my gender, colour and even the fact that I have a tiny body frame.
BD: These challenges cannot have been easy to face, please tell us, how did you end up in this predominantly male dominated industry?
SD: I grew up in the rural areas where there were not many fancy houses or buildings. We had basic architectural designs, so every time I went to JHB for vacation, I would be caught up in the designs and always wondered how the houses were built. When I was in High school I started doing research about the construction industry at the time, I thought I was going to be a Quantity Surveyor. Eventually, I did my Experiential learning with Group Five, that is when I fell in love with construction and I have never looked back since.
BD: So many challenges! How did you overcome them?
SD: I started putting myself out there more and started networking and attending business seminars. I also use the internet a lot searching for ways I can overcome being underestimated, searching for ways I can find funding.
BD: You initially worked a 9 to 5. How was this experience and what did it teach you?
SD: It was very difficult. In construction you get moved around quite a lot so there is no time to have fun nor make friends, but I had support from my supervisor. The experience taught me independence, gave me confidence in myself, taught me responsibility and it groomed me to the person that I am today.
BD: That is a wealth of experience you deduced from 9-5, are you able to use any of it in your own company?
SD: Oh yes! Planning- if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Also the confidence I gained from my previous job has opened a lot of doors for me, all the other managerial skills in between inclusive of my capabilities to price and also design structures are a bonus to my company.
BD: You have now started your own company, what brought this on?
SD: The first class I attended in tertiary was a construction technology class in which the lecturer, who was quite old, said that they were not trying to produce employees but entrepreneurs. When I was doing my third year another lecturer who was also very old said the same thing. That was when I took the initiative to go open my company and let it wait for me until I graduate. After graduation I got stuck in the world of employment for a bit until I realised, I was just building another person’s dreams.
BD: How did the name of your company come about?
SD: I wanted a name with meaning, a name that would represent me where I am coming from and where I am going which is Bucwengile (I am refined).
BD: What advice do you have for any young person wanting to work in the construction field?
SD: I would say to a person wanting to work in the construction industry, the opportunities are there. Have confidence in yourself, you will meet a lot of people that will try to shake you. Grow that thick skin, it will help you through whatever deep end they throw you in. Depend on nobody else but yourself. Ask a lot of questions and never hold back on a challenge.
BD: What have you learned about the construction field?
SD: There is so much to learn about the field, so I believe I am still in the process of learning.
BD: Where do you see your company in the next five years?
SD: I see my company creating more employment for my fellow black brothers and sisters (from unskilled to skilled), I want to be able to also assist with bursary schemes for the disadvantaged.
BD: What inspires you?
SD: The fact that there aren’t many (black) female construction entrepreneurs and wanting to create a mark. I am also inspired by my love for a finished structure; it excites me so much that I want to see more of those being built by me.