Diphetlho Masemola | Dikeamo and Associates
Programme sponsor: Johnson Matthey
“I’ve learned to focus on other aspects of my business besides the actual project work, such as marketing and implementing systems and processes”
An architect by trade, Diphetlho Masemola started Dikeamo and Associates in 2009. Her company provides architectural services, interior design services, project management and green building services, predominantly to the private sector. “Green building has different aspects to it. We look at the building holistically and environmentally-friendly decisions are made about the construction and long-term maintenance – from the glue used on the carpets to the green gas emissions to the overall sustainability of the building,” Diphetlho explains.
Her choice to become an entrepreneur was largely influenced by her family. “I come from a family of entrepreneurs. My grandfather had several retail stores, including a butchery and a bottle store. I saw how much freedom they had with their time and how involved they could be in our lives. In entrepreneurship, I saw the freedom and the opportunities to give back to the community and contribute to the bigger scale of the ecosystem,” she says.
But her journey has not been easy. While working her way through her studies, she noticed how many female students dropped out each year as she got closer to completing her masters. “It is a very tough, male-dominated industry. I do love a good challenge though and I saw an opportunity to make a difference, to break the stereotype,” she says. Another challenge she faces on a daily basis is making sure clients have capital to fund their projects. “There is a lot of hope involved, hope that their projects are not just pipe dreams and will materialise into something,” she says.
Diphetlho was lucky enough to be selected for a Johnson Matthey sponsored business-development programme. Powered by Raizcorp, the programme allows her access to learning and one-on-one guiding (mentoring). “I am learning so much. ‘Know your numbers!’ is drilled into me now,” she laughs. “I’ve learned to focus on other aspects of my business besides the actual project work, such as marketing and implementing systems and processes.” Her growth has been phenomenal. “When I started the programme, I was a one-man show. Now I have nine full-time employees and four freelancers. With the systems I’ve implemented, it takes me three hours to invoice instead of three days,” she says proudly.
She advises anyone in the entrepreneurial space to cultivate a support system. “And I don’t mean friends. Today they’ll support you, tomorrow they’ll ask you why you don’t just get a job. Find a support system that has an interest in your business growing and making a difference,” Diphetlho says.
She continues, “This programme saved me. To Johnson Matthey and my guides, thank you for sponsoring me and investing all this time in me. Having my cohort as support has been a blessing. It feels like I’m back at varsity, except at the end of it I get a sustainable business and not a degree. Please, please do what you’re doing for the next person – it is so worthwhile!”