In the past 27 years, the South African government has made substantial progress in growing the economy, becoming internationally competitive, incorporating greater numbers of people of all races into the economy, and diversifying the economic base. However, the transformation of South Africa’s economy will not be complete until Women, Youth, and Leaders of tomorrow play a vital role in the mainstream economy.
Fostering the culture of entrepreneurship is critically important for the country and Sibongile Sambo has outstanding gifts, abilities, and knowledge to go out there and become the best that she can be. She is the Managing Director at SRS Aviation & Aero Metals (Pty) Ltd, taking advantage of the political freedom she is creating economic freedom not only for the company but for the community at large.
Sibongile’s Journey & Background
It all started with a dream and passion for aircraft. Sibongile Sambo was born in Bushbuckridge, a village where aviation was never part of the vocabulary. She did not have any sophisticated toys and therefore she just played outside on the streets with other children. She used to stop everything & every time when an aircraft flies by, so she could wave them with eagerness, envy, and undying passion. Sibongile has since then had a dream that one day she will have access to them in one way or the other.
Sibongile Sambo has spent 17 years at SRS Aviation since 2004, the journey was not smooth at all. It was full of turbulence. Sibongile did enjoy the journey; she learned a lot and she got an opportunity to empower other people in the process. This business has given birth to Aero Metals, where the company manufactures elementary parts for new Airplanes.
Pursuing her Dream & Passion
In 2000 Sibongile Sambo registered a company for cleaning, security, and HR services but it never took off because she had no passion at all in mentioned services though she was well trained & gained a wealth of experience in Human Resources. Sibongile searched her soul for what lies within her.
The love for aircraft never left her mind. Sibongile started attending air shows and did extensive painstaking research on aviation business opportunities. One day at De Beers Consolidated mines she took a decision that she doesn’t regret, leaving her well-paying job to venture into the unknown world of aviation.
The only thing Sibongile had was a belief and confidence in herself and the business idea. Sibongile was so confident that she would go out there and be the best she can be in order to be successful. This is when she moved to what she really wanted – the fulfillment of her dreams and passions.
How SRS Aviation got Funded
The team approached banks and different institutions for finance however most decision-makers were on holiday at that time – a week between Christmas & New Year’s Day. The remaining gave feedback on the spot saying we would not be financed because aviation is regarded as a high-risk industry. As they had no collateral and no aviation experience & the contract at hand meant nothing to the financiers.
Sibongile Sambo then had to come up with an alternative solution before she could lose the entire contract. Sibongile’s Mother and Aunt borrowed their pension money, she got so much support from them.
17 years later the team is now experienced and has generated enough revenues that would give comfort to investors. The company has established networks worldwide and has managed to break through an untapped Aviation industry.
A Motivational Leader
Sibongile Sambo likes open and inclusive leadership. It is important that the colleagues and employees share the vision with the leaders of the organization. She acknowledges that different situations require a different style of leadership. As a leader, she needs to be agile and respond to situations without procrastination. She is indeed, a future Leader.
Challenges and Growth
Aerospace is capital intensive and access to financial capital is required. Therefore, the biggest challenge was securing finance for the business. Sibongile faced a similar challenge – trying to access capital. Secondly, employing and retaining skilled employees has been a challenge because once they are well trained and experienced, they move to bigger organizations. The company now has emerging subsidiaries in the following areas: –
- The supply of aircraft components and spare parts for manufactures such as Boeing; Bombardier, Airbus etc.
- It is also an industrialist, manufacturing of aerospace elementary parts and components, planning to expand to Automotive, Rail, and Maritime. The company is called Aero Metals (Pty) Ltd.
- During the 2020 lock-down due to the Covid- 19 pandemic, the company inherited a technical training school that was closing down. This is a strategic organisation for technical training not only in aerospace but in all key industries. The company is called Dyondzo Technical Training Academy.
Contribution and Recognition
Sibongile Sambo and her team have always been involved in Aviation awareness programs, empowering the youth about career and business opportunities in the industry. The organization has produced pilots, people who never even thought they would have access to an aeroplane.
Since 2006 to date, the company has won several accolades both locally and abroad. The organisation has gone through its own share of challenges. It has crossed the oceans and rivers full of challenges and is now still crossing streams of challenges. The team has become stronger and wiser.