As a pilot, Stellenbosch University (SU) alumna Fatima Jakoet’s favourite part of flying is that moment when she pulls back the sidestick and the aircraft lifts off the ground and heads for the sky.
As the founder of the Sakhikamva (Xhosa for “building a future”) Foundation, Fatima’s purpose is to give wings to the dreams of others.
“I’ve achieved my dream and am now in the position to ‘buy shares’ in other people’s dreams,” she explains.
Fatima started the foundation in 2010, shortly after she graduated with an MBA degree from the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB) in 2009. As she neared her graduation date, she asked herself: “How can I best use this MBA degree to run a non-profit organisation according to sound business practices and develop myself as a leader?”
The aim of the Sakhikamva Foundation is to expose learners to the aerospace industry and to date, approximately 90 000 learners have been reached.
“The Foundation addresses two main barriers to the aerospace industry: One is a lack of exposure to the industry which leads to ignorance about available opportunities, and the other is financial constraints.”
Fatima is extremely pleased that the foundation recently delivered its first commercial pilot’s licence in conjunction with Morningstar Flight Academy.
Her own path to becoming a pilot wasn’t exactly straightforward.
After graduating with a BSc degree from the Cape Technikon (now CPUT), she worked for both the National Health and the South African Police Services Forensic teams as forensic toxicologist and narcotics expert respectively.
It was her job as narcotics expert that brought her to Cape Town International Airport for a drug bust in 2001.
“As I stood next to the aeroplane, it called to me. It said: ‘Come fly me’,” she remembers.
She applied and was accepted for the SAA Cadet Pilot programme and obtained her Airline Transport Pilot license (ATPL) at the BAE Flight Training College in Adelaide, Australia. She has served as a first officer for SAA since 2005.
As part of her personal development, Fatima completed a programme for leadership development at Harvard in 2017 after receiving a Harvard scholarship.
In 2015, Fatima developed and launched a Science Technology Robotics Engineering Aerospace and Mathematics (STREAM) laboratory. The STREAM laboratory is an interactive space for the development of essential skills for youth in the aerospace sector.
Her dream is to see South Africa become the centre point for development in the space industry.
“The next generation will be space travellers and it is our responsibility to prepare them, expose them to the aerospace industry and create an enabling environment. If we don’t do this, we will do them an injustice,” she concludes.
- By Pia Nänny -