Magazine article New African

Sibongile Sambo Flying High

Magazine article New African

Sibongile Sambo Flying High

Article excerpt

As founder and managing director of the first 100% black female-owned aviation company in Southern Africa, Sibongile Sambo's story of success is proof that women can achieve and succeed in any field including a male-dominated one.

Her philosophy is captivating: "I know who I am, I know who I am not. I can never forget where I came from, I know where I am going. To reach for my dreams and conquer the challenges, I will dare to be different, and with proper guidance and direction, nothing is impossible. I am indeed, a future leader."

After a successful career in Human Resources with two large corporations, Sibongile seized the opportunity presented by the passage of South Africa's Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) Act in 2003 (which promotes affirmative action for previously disadvantaged groups) to start her own business.

At the age of 30, Sibongile founded SRS Aviation Ltd in 2004. It offers clients professional and personalised flight options to destinations around the world. In a Doing Business report released in April by the International Finance Corporation (IFC)--an arm of the World Bank--Sibongile has been recognised as one of Africa's leading women entrepreneurs who are overcoming legal and regulatory obstacles to create new business opportunities--an accolade that is just the latest in her fast-growing successful career, which she hopes other women will emulate.

Since the end of apartheid, the South African government has promoted affirmative action on the basis of both race and gender. However, access to credit remains especially difficult for black women. This affects their ability to access bank finance.

But Sibongile has soldiered on and triumphed. Her company's track record to date includes brokering seven planes, with annual revenues of almost $5 million. Her inspirational success has already earned her a number of prestigious awards.

In 2006 alone, SRS Aviation was named South Africa's Top Emerging Gender Empowered Company. She was named the Regional Business Woman of the Year by South Africa's Business Woman Association, she won the Black Woman in Business Awards (BIBA) organised in London by the European Federation for Black Women Business Owners, and she was also named the Top Female Entrepreneur of the Year by Fidentia in the same year. …

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