100% African Woman Owned Aviation Company Breaking Barriers
Creating Your Own Path
Sibongile Sambo is a pioneering woman of South African aviation. She is founder and Chief Executive Officer of SRS Aviation Ltd., the first 100 percent black, African woman owned aviation services company in South Africa. Launched in 2004, SRS is an integrated provider of private aviation services offering South African and international clients professional and personalized flight options including VIP Charter, tourist charter and helicopter services, to destinations around the world. Today, the company also provides maintenance, sales and fleet management services to private jet owners.
When Sibongile Sambo, was told by South African Airways that she did not qualify for a flight attendant position because she did not meet their minimum height requirement, she decided to take matters into her own hands. She became an entrepreneur, and started her very own airline called SRS Aviation, and until this day, her company is the only Black African woman-owned and operated aviation company in Africa.
In 2003, with the South African government passing Black Economic Empowerment Act enabling people from previously disadvantaged backgrounds to enter and participate in economic life as entrepreneurs, Sibongile saw an opportunity to fulfill her aviation dreams. However, having no prior experience in the sector, nor the capital to purchase an aircraft, this posed an initial challenge, but not one that would deter Sibongile from realizing her dreams. To raise the capital needed to start her aviation business, Sibongile approached her family to lend her the money and with this small family loan from her mother and aunt, she was able to start her business by brokering contracts between aviation services and those with air-transport needs. Then, she bid and won a contract for cargo transport issued by the South African government and formed a partnership with MCC Aviation – a South African-based fixed & rotor wing charter operator. Finally, she sold her car and cashed out her mother’s pension to help her obtain an Air Operating Certificate from the South African Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). It wasn’t an easy process, but she was able to raise the needed capital and make it work!
Now, Sambo’s company offers their clients professional and personalized flight options to destinations in Africa and around the world. Their services include VIP charters, tourist charters, cargo charters, game count & capture, and helicopter services. Her customers pay anywhere from $1,000 USD to $200,000 USD per flight. Her vision is to be the number one aviation company in affordable air service solutions for individuals and businesses, locally and worldwide, by providing an unparalleled air service. She also aims to uphold the highest safety standards. She realizes her responsibility in being a role model as the owner of the first aviation company owned by a Black African woman. Sibongile is also a motivational speaker. During a recent interview with CNN, she commented, “I’m where I am today because somebody invested in me. It’s my opportunity now to invest in other people.”