Sibongile Sambo is the Founder and Managing Director of SRS (Sibongile Rejoice Sambo) Aviation – the first black female owned aviation company in South Africa.
Born in 1974 in Bushbuckridge, Mpumalanga, South Africa, Sibongile Sambo’s interest in aircraft started when she was a young girl. Whenever she saw a plane flying overhead, she would stop immediately and imagine herself in that plane. She had visions about planes and would imagine herself flying to different countries and meeting people.
Sibongile Sambo wanted to be a flight attendant with South African Airways, but she did not meet the minimum height requirement to become one. She then dreamed of something even more challenging - to start her own aviation company.
Her dream came true when the 2003 post-apartheid government passed the Black Economic Empowerment Act, which enables people from previously disadvantaged backgrounds enter and participate in economic life as entrepreneurs.
However, she had a challenge that could have prevented her from achieving her dream – she had no prior experience or capital to purchase an aircraft. Rather than go through the formal means for acquiring the capital, Sambo relied on her family to lend her the money to kick start her business.
I addition to the money she realized from selling her car, the small family loan from her mother and aunt enabled her to broker contracts between aviation services and those with air-transport needs.
Ultimately, with her impressive education history and work experience in human resources from various organisations like De Beers, City Power; Sambo started her airline company in 2004.
Since then, SRS Aviation has grown to provide personalized services including helicopter, tourist and luxury flights to destinations spanning the globe. The Johannesburg-based crew have flown as far as the U.S. and Germany.