Bembe Zwane

Celebrating Women’s Month

This Women’s Month Lanseria is celebrating the collective contribution of all of our lady employees and the difference they make to our company.

We’re also privileged to be witness to the stories of lady entrepreneurs adding value to our business through supplier partnerships with us. Bembe Zwane is one such lady. Her story and journey remain an inspiration…

Determination is key for anything that you want to achieve

“If I could give one piece of advice to young girls and aspiring women, it would be to do what you love. If you do what you love, it will never feel like you are working…”

By Bembe Zwane, CEO – PSS Car Rental and Chairperson of PSS Aviation

It’s taken me a long time to get to where I am today.

After high school I studied a B Com in Education because the Education Department was offering bursaries at that time. Deep in my heart I always knew I wanted to be a career woman.

Thus I decided to pursue my passion and study what I love. I did my post-grad - BCom (Hons) degree in Marketing while working as a teacher to pay back my bursary in the form of a service. Once completed, I stepped out into the IT Industry - office automation and then the oil industry and later moved into the motor / transportation industry, with my ultimate goal being to gain as much exposure as possible across the transportation sector.

I discovered that I was fascinated by the world of aviation whilst travelling as the head of business development at Fleet Africa. This role required me to travel frequently and I found myself drawn to understand the logistics behind the scene. Fortunately, I landed a job as an Executive Manager at Equity Aviation, which specialised in Aviation ground-handling. From this point, aviation captured my heart. I felt at home and I was finally doing what I Iove.

I especially enjoyed exposure to the different operations – meeting everyone from pilots to air traffic controllers and the cabin crew.  Due to economic reasons the Equity Aviation contract at major airports in South Africa and Africa came to an end and that was the beginning of change for me.

This was one of my most difficult life experiences as we found ourselves having to retrench staff, and sell all our ground operation equipment as well as our stakes in all the African countries we were present at, including the subsidiaries in South Africa. PSS Aviation was one of these subsidiaries.

When the time came to sell PSS, I asked the then Equity Aviation shareholders not to advertise the company – I wanted to buy it. I remember one of the executives looking at me like I was crazy and asking me: “Bembe, are you sure?’

I immediately said “Yes!” because I had a vision and was determined to own my own business. I have never looked back since.

At that time I had already secured a full time job as a Director at Imperial Logistics. The PSS team carried on with the status quo and ran with the company operations.

It carried on like this until I had saved enough money to focus my energy on making my company a success. The going was tough, we really struggled to keep the company afloat in part due to the impact of the economic recession.

My savings helped me through those difficult times. There were instances when I even had to use this money for salaries. I never felt like I wanted to give up though; because I had set my heart on making it work, come what may.

Ultimately, I had to resize and relocate. I found myself approaching companies and offering consulting services. I relocated my office to Lanseria International Airport, and that opened opportunities to grow my business at the airport.

I met with the CEO of Lanseria International Airport to present our service offering and to propose some of the businesses PSS would like to do within the airport. Opening a Car Rental at the Airport was one of the businesses I had proposed. When I received the call to present the model for my car rental business, I immediately brought Gitan Kantilal, my former colleague and business associate, back on board. (He is the owner of Dynamic Supply Chain Management Consultants - DSCMC.)

I was thrilled when we got the news that we were successful in our bid and were awarded this amazing opportunity to start a 100% black-owned car rental business at the airport. PSS Car Rental started trading at LIA two months back on 1 June 2019.

We currently employ 15 employees (most of them from the surrounding airport communities) and have a fleet of 50 vehicles, which we’ll grow on a monthly basis as our demand increases.

While my humble beginnings as a teacher often seem far away, I’m very grateful to all the people who have contributed to my journey – and continue to do so. These include my late mother especially for the wisdom she instilled in both her daughters, my husband, my sister, my children, my business partners and my team.

Most importantly I would like to thank Lanseria International Airport for this great opportunity. We encourage Lanseria’s CEO Rampa Rammopo and leadership team to continue to empower other small businesses and help them grow in alignment with the airport.

As PSS Car Rental, we are proud to be part of your enterprise development programme and remain committed to our professional development. We are grateful for this opportunity.

My dream is to continue growing my business: adding value and inspiring future entrepreneurs to also follow their dreams. I want to empower other women-owned businesses and start-up youth-owned SMEs through our own youth development and skills development programmes.