Black News

“I Started My Own Airline After Rejection”

By Susan Johnes

When one door closes, another one opens. That’s how the old say suggests. Sibongile Sambo is a living testimony of the wise words to her real life experience.

Born in 1974, South Africa, Sibongile had a passion for aircraft. In her young age, when a plane was flying overhead, she would stop and admire it, imagining herself as the pilot traveling in different countries and meeting people from all walks of life.

Her efforts saw her proceed to the University of Zululand where she attained a Bachelor’s Degree in Administration. Thus after graduation, her early career took her to in the field of human resource, working for companies such as De Beers and City Powers.

In an interview with the CNN, Sibongile emotionally remarked how the South African Airways told her that she did not qualify for a flight attendant position for the failure of meeting their minimum height requirement.

Her dream of being involved in the aviation sector never left despite her early career. Sambo saw an opportunity to fulfill her aviation dreams in 2003 when the South African government passed the Black Empowerment Act. With that, the disadvantaged black communities were allowed to venture in entrepreneurship.

However, as nature would dictate challenges to the humanity, she wasn’t an exemption. Capital proved her greatest challenge which deterred her from purchasing an aircraft. Besides, she lacked prior experience in the sector.

She became challenged and decided to break the male-dominated aviation industry. Her determination, perseverance and the success drive spirit saw her win an aviation tender for cargo transport with the South African government.

Luckily, she tested her first success when her SRS aviation company won the contract in 2004.

Further, she received a breakthrough when her sister decided to support her through partnership. During that time, the airline industry lacked female entrepreneurs. In most cases, she received an awkward treatment with people taking her move for granted.

Sibongile’s background characterized by confidence and willingness to learn made her a strong woman who avoids criticisms from the people.

She admits having faced series of challenges. The only way she has overcome them is remaining knowledgeable through continuous reading. Besides, she attends conferences and industry events on a similar subject.

Her company offers clients professional and personalized flight options to destinations in Africa and around the world. Sambo is now the first black female to own an aviation company in Africa. She offers chatter in cargo, helicopter services, medical evacuation, firefighting, and aerial photography.

Besides being an entrepreneur, Sambo is also a motivational speaker. She has traveled across the world, with the aim of women and children empowerment. Besides, she has offered scholarship and bursaries to the black communities who have ventured in aviation.

For more details about Sibongile visit


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