Fly Blue Crane launched last September as the first airline owned by a black woman. In less than a year of service within South Africa, Fly Blue Crane is going to spread its wings and offer international flights to Swaziland and Mozambique. Soon they hope to further expand to Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The airline’s founder, CEO and majority shareholder, Sizakele Mzimela, has had a long and impressive career in the aviation industry. Before launching Fly Blue Crane last year, Mzimela was the first female CEO of South African Airways. She oversaw the airline’s first direct flights from South Africa to New York and Beijing.
Mzimela started her career as a market analyst in 1997. In addition to starting her own airline since then, she has also been appointed the first female on the International Air Transport Association’s board of directors. She also serves as a board member on the South African Tourism Board and the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls.
In an interview with Runway Girl Network, Mzimela offered great advice and wisdom for rising female entrepreneurs looking to overcome obstacles on the path to success:
“You have to accept up front that your road will be more difficult than the pale white male sitting next to you,” Mzimela said. “You will have to always be better than them…they will only ignore you up to a point. People may not like your color or your agenda when they say they want the best person for the job.
“You can stand up and say ‘I am the best person for the job’. Understand that we just have to work harder. It’s unfair, but you spend less time complaining and more time finding a way to move on and break through regardless of the difficulties. Be mentally prepared that climbing that mountain will be different. I’m prepared to climb to the top. It’s your job to say ‘Nothing will stop me. I’m going to make it,’ because it doesn’t look like, I’m sad to say, that things will change any time soon.”