What happens when your job application as a flight attendant is rejected?


Sibongile Sambo decided she wouldn’t let a silly thing like failing to meet the minimum height requirement of South African Airways that stop her from pursuing her love of flight, so she started her own aviation company.


She eventually went on to launch SRS avation, a startup that offers aviation services to a wide range of clients. Initially reliant on loans from her family, SRS has since grown to a chain of retail and aviation shops. Though the company may have seen its share of challenges, it has now chartered to flights that have flown as far as the United States.


SRS is the first aviation company owned by a black woman in South Africa. Having broken through the glass ceiling and into the male-dominated industry, Sambo is actively working towards empowering young black women. In her aim to get more women pilots in the air, Sambo has helped three women get private pilot licenses and presently employs all three as full-time staff. Sambo aspires to have more South African women in the aviation industry as jet pilots.



We can add aviation to the list of growing professional African sectors, and an increasing number of women are making waves in the industry. While SRS plans to expand its services across the continent, last year Ethiopia Airlines dispatched a flight entirely staffed by women. Kenyan Airways did the same when it set an African record in 2014. Captain Irene Koki Mutungi, the first African woman certified as a Boeing captain flew the airways’ fourth Dreamliner from South Carolina to Nairobi. The Dreamliner’s delivery was made alongside a crew composed entirely of women. Kenyan Airways has also operated flights with all women crews to celebrate International Women’s Day.


We are seeing opportunities for African women in the world of aviation. What other male-dominated industries need to open up to women? Leave a comment below or reach out to me on Twitter @rafeeeeta