Question and Answer with award winning Revona Alice Botha
Women in construction in South Africa still struggle to gain access to contracts, funding and networks. According to the Construction Industry Development Board (CIBD), statistics show that there are 437 women-owned construction companies with the grade seven level of certification, which only takes a 1% slice out of a pie that constitutes of 40, 065 construction companies. It further states that majority of the women are still in the grade 1 level. However, regardless of all these challenges, there are women who are slowly progressing in the construction arena. To honour such phenomenal women, Solomon Star sat down with Kimberley born Revona Alice Botha. She is the owner and Managing Director of Robus Engineering Training Services and is paving her way in the male dominated field.
Revona Alice Botha had a tough upbringing and did not have much money growing up. This only encouraged her to work harder and be a forerunner for other women in her community and the Northern Cape Province at large. Alice was the first black woman in South Africa to qualify as an artisan electrician in the year 1992.
1. What did you want to be when you were growing up?
I always wanted to be a police woman.
2. Who was your role model?
My mother and my elder sister were my role models, I really looked up to them because they were not highly educated but they had good work ethic and worked very hard in everything that they did. Through all the hardships, they ensured that they always took care of the family.
3. What are your formal qualifications?
I hold a Master’s Degree in Engineering, and certificates in Installation Electrician, Quality Management Systems, Electrical Trade Certificate, Post Graduate Certificate in Engineering Business Management, I also have a National Diploma in Financial Information Systems.
4. How long have you been in the construction business?
I have been in the industry since the year 1990 and I officially qualified as an electrician in 1992. I am presently in love with major engineering construction, providing professional engineering services such as project design, project and construction management, constructing engineering infrastructure in the energy environment and many more.
5. You walked away with the overall winner for the 2017 Women in Construction Award as well as the Standard Bank Top Women’s Award, what do you think set you apart from other female entrepreneurs in construction for you to obtain that award?
I am not just a window dresser but I am hands on with our projects, I ensure that I am involved in the execution process of the engineering and construction industry.
6. What is the hardest thing about being in a male dominated industry?
Ignorance is the only enemy that can keep women from conquering what she wants in life. This can cause women to be afraid and feel intimated and this may curb them from achieving their goals. The resources are there and I think fear and intimidation is what makes it hard for women to survive in the industry.
7. What outreach programme are you currently running?
I offer professional development workshops to women in various communities in South Africa. We aim to equip, aid and guide people, especially women into participating in the industry.
8. What advice would you give to young women who want to get into the industry?
Women have to do everything in their power to equip themselves with information as they need to be passionate and obsessively work towards attaining their goals. Possessing strong will is vital especially if you are entering male dominated terrain, there is no space for fear. Participating in an environment that is predominantly male is not for weak women, women need to be strong and unapologetically brave.