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From Facing Disappointments To Starting Africa’s First Female Owned Aviation Company: Lessons From Sibongile Sambo’s Story

Sibongile Sambo is the founder of SRS Aviation, which is the first aviation company in Africa set up by a woman in 2004. Like every determined entrepreneur, Sibongile faced certain disappointments that were enough to deter her from her goal but instead, she decided to build something out of it.

Sibongile was born in Bushbuckridge a village in South Africa, it is reported that due to her background it was unusual for someone like her to dream about flying an aeroplane not to talk of being part of the aviation industry but this woman dared the odds despite the limitations.

Picture Credit: Amazons Women Watch

In this article, we will be sharing FIVE notable lessons from the life of this inspiring African woman.

  1. LOOK AWAY FROM DISAPPOINTMENTS: Disappointments are just disappointments and nothing more; they should not deter you. Sibongile had earlier in her life applied to be a flight attendant and was rejected because of her height as she had not attained the minimum height requirement. Instead of allowing that to discourage her, she looked forward and pressed harder.  Challenges are not unusual, what is more important is the attitude towards it.
  1. HOLD ON TO YOUR DREAMS: Dreams are an important aspect of man’s sojourn here on earth. For Sibongile, she had always nursed the dream. Sometime in 2000, she set up a cleaning, security, and HR services firm but it never materialised as she had no sustainable passion.  Sibongile believed in her dream and pursued it. What is that one dream you have always nurtured? Take this article as a clue to get started.

Picture Credit: Upside Africa

  1. KEY INTO OPPORTUNITIES: In a world of seeming difficulties, opportunities abound everywhere, you may not just be looking deep enough. In 2003, the South African government passed the Black Economic Empowerment Act empowering people from previously disadvantaged backgrounds to enter and participate in economic life as entrepreneurs, she saw an opportunity to fulfill her aviation dream and keyed into it. At this time, she had no experience in the aviation industry or enough capital for the purchase of an aircraft, she approached her family members for a loan. Thereafter another opportunity came knocking when the government issued a tender for aviation firms to bid on a contract for cargo transport which she won.
  1. START BUT EVOLVE: Despite achieving a feat, she did not rest on her oars. She pressed on and  a switch was made to private aviation services. The company added VIP charter flights, tourist charters and helicopter services to its offerings. They now also provide maintenance to private jet owners alongside sales and fleet management services. 
  1. EMPOWER OTHERS: Not just for herself alone, over the years, Sibongile has made moves to inspire and motivate others especially young people and women. Some she directly mentors under organisations like South African Entrepreneurs Network (SAWEN), Business Women Association (BWA) and she is part of a team that is establishing the Southern African Woman in Aviation a non profit making company that will encourage women to enter the field of Aviation in different levels; offer bursaries and scholarships towards Aviation related training etc. 

We hope that her story inspires you to do more and be more.

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Written by Faith Paulinus

A Content Writer. Law Graduate. Social Media Manager.

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