Meet Refilwe Ledwaba- SA’s First Black Woman Helicopter Pilot.
Refilwe Ledwaba is a social entrepreneur, a qualified Pilot (Fixed-wing, Rotor wing and flight instructor), an academic passionate about youth development in Africa. She is the founder of Girls Fly programme in Africa (GFPA) foundation – an information and educational Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) programme focusing on aviation and space.
The programme includes the use of design thinking, technology, and innovation to shape, empower, enable, and support the next generation of makers and problem-solvers in the aviation and space industry in Africa while entrenching the spirit of Ubuntu. The organisation’s vision is to create an Africa where every girl is educated, included, and empowered. The programme has a presence in South Africa, Botswana, Cameroon, and Kenya.
Through the foundation, Refilwe was named and featured on BBC as one of the innovators in Africa and CNN Africa’s changemakers. She is a member of the Royal Aeronautical Society, council member of the Aeronautical Society of South Africa (AeSSA) outreach team and a recipient of The Amelia Earhart Memorial Scholarship (AEMSF) for flight training. Refilwe is also a Techwomen fellow, Bill and Melinda Gates foundation Goalkeeper and Obama Africa programme leader.
Refilwe is a recipient of numerous scholarships, international awards and honours for her visionary work with the NPO organizations she founded. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree (Microbiology and Biochemistry) from the University of Cape Town (UCT), A Post Graduate Diploma in Business Administration from UCT graduate school of business and an MBA from the University of Pretoria’s Gordon Institute of business science. She will be pursuing her PhD in 2021. In her free time, she flies all over the country in a C172, landing in remote areas to inspire girls to take up careers in the STEAM field.