Sibongile Sambo is a South African entrepreneur who turned her passion for flying into a successful business. She is the founder and managing director of SRS Aviation, the first black female owned aviation company in Africa.
Sambo was born in 1974 in Bushbuckridge, a rural area in the Mpumalanga province of South Africa. She graduated from the University of Zululand with a degree in administration. She always dreamed of becoming a flight attendant, but she faced a major obstacle: she did not meet the minimum height requirement of 1.6 meters to work for South African Airways.
Instead of giving up on her dream, she decided to start her own aviation company. She sold her car and used her mother’s pension money to raise the initial capital of 500,000 rand (about $35,000). She also applied for a government tender to provide aviation services.
In 2004, she won the contract and launched SRS Aviation, named after her initials. The company offers a range of services, including helicopter flights, tourist transfers, VIP charters, cargo flights, medical evacuations and general air security. SRS Aviation has flown clients to destinations across the globe, such as the United States, Germany and Ghana.
Her Struggles and Successes
Sambo faced many challenges as a woman breaking into a male-dominated industry. She had to learn the technical aspects of aviation, such as aircraft maintenance and safety regulations. She also had to deal with skepticism and discrimination from some potential clients and partners.
However, she persevered and proved herself as a competent and professional businesswoman. She has received several awards and recognitions for her achievements, such as the Regional Business Woman of the Year Award in 2006, the Black Women in Business Award in 2007 and the Outstanding Woman in Business Award in 2012. She was also named one of the 20 Young Power Women in Africa by Forbes Magazine in 2013.
Sambo is not only a successful entrepreneur, but also a role model and mentor for other aspiring female pilots. She has helped three women obtain their private pilot licenses through her company and plans to support more. She also participates in various initiatives to promote women empowerment and education in aviation.
Why We Should Celebrate Her
Sambo is an inspiration for anyone who wants to pursue their passion and overcome obstacles. She has shown that with determination, hard work and creativity, anything is possible. She has also contributed to the development of the aviation industry in South Africa and Africa as a whole. She has created jobs, boosted tourism and enhanced connectivity.
Sambo is also a trailblazer for women in aviation, a field that is still largely dominated by men. According to the International Society of Women Airline Pilots, only about 5% of airline pilots worldwide are women. In Africa, the percentage is even lower, at about 3%. Sambo has challenged the stereotypes and barriers that prevent women from entering and advancing in this sector. She has also empowered other women to follow their dreams and achieve their potential.
- According to the World Bank, South Africa had 16.8 million air passengers in 2019, ranking 25th in the world.
- According to the African Airlines Association, African airlines carried 95.3 million passengers in 2019, accounting for 2.1% of the global market share.
- According to the International Air Transport Association, Africa is expected to become one of the fastest-growing aviation regions in the next 20 years, with an annual growth rate of 4.6%.
- According to AviaDev Africa, there are currently 788 airports and 419 airlines operating in Africa.
- According to Women in Aviation International, there are currently over 14,000 female pilots worldwide.
We want to celebrate Sibongile today. You are an incredible force in the aviation industry in Africa. You are truly a Rising African and an able role model for the new African. Rising Africa is a dynamic platform that highlights the remarkable achievements of Africans worldwide and provides up-to-date information on scholarships and sponsorships available to African youth. Our vision is to inspire and empower the next generation of African leaders by showcasing the diverse accomplishments and talents of Africans across different fields, including technology, business, arts and culture, and social activism.
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- The rejected flight attendant who started an airline | CNN
- Sibongile Sambo – Wikipedia
- Sibongile Rejoyce Sambo: A Renowned Global Leader in Aviation – CIO Look
- World Bank Open Data
- African Airlines Association
- IATA – Africa
- AviaDev Africa
- Women in Aviation International