When one thinks about aviation, women rarely come to mind. Which is why Sibongile Sambo stands out as the only female in a male-dominated world.
The 32-year-old is the first woman in the country to own an aviation company. Sibongile is the managing director of SRS Aviation, a fully black, female-owned, airborne service company."It hasn't been easy," confesses Sibongile. "It's been a huge task but it's been worth every sleepless night I've endured. The company is now well established and is a growing enterprise, with an annual turnover of R54 million. To me, that alone is an incredible achievement." Her fascination with aircraft dates back to when she was a little girl growing up in Bushbuck Ridge, in Mpumalanga. "When I saw a plane flying past, I'd stop whatever I was doing and imagine myself in that plane, jetting off to foreign countries. Now I offer luxurious services to people who never dreamt of being in a plane before," she explains. "The company's objective is not only to capitalise on this market but also to take the business of flying to our people. There's still a lot that can be contributed in this field and I have taken the initiative to educate young black people about the aviation industry.
"Sibongile, who is qualified in human resources, says that as MD, she's responsible for the company's entire strategy – planning, implementation, development and marketing.
"SRS is two years old, so it's still a baby that needs to be nurtured. I have to ensure that each department runs smoothly and effectively, but we are slowly getting to where we want to be."
Sibongile, who is the mother of a four-year-old, is proud of the fact that prestigious government officials and some of the country's most celebrated people are among her loyal clients.
"SRS Aviation's main task is to offer clients professional and personalised flights to desired destinations, as well as to transport cargo for different companies."
Sibongile has every right to be proud of her achievements; she is the winner of numerous business awards. "Although 2006 was a difficult year for me, it was also one of the most exciting and successful."
With awards from the Business Women's Association and the European Federation of Black Business Owners, what more could a girl ask for?
"These awards show that I'm heading in the right direction. It also means that the business of aviation is my playground. I plan to take SRS Aviation to greater heights and become the leader in this business."
Would you like to nominate a Woman of the Week? Email her details to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.