International Women’s Day: Meet Susan Mashibe



Susan Mashibe remembers the moment she decided to become a pilot. She was 4 years old in Kigoma, Tanzania. She stood holding hands with her grandmother, watching as her parents’ plane took off.

“If I could fly that plane,” she thought, “they would not leave me behind ever again.”

Susan can also tell you about the moment she saw her first 747. She was 10 years old then, and standing at the Dar es Salaam airport, just above the current site of VIA Aviation – her own company’s office there.

It’s been quite a journey from her childhood in Mwanza and Dar es Salaam, to working her way through Western Michigan University, becoming Tanzania’s first female FAA-certified pilot and mechanic, to now owning and running VIA Aviation, dedicated to providing outstanding private jet handling and hangar services.

inside Kili Hangar

Mashibe founded VIA Aviation (formerly Tanzanite Jet Centre or TanJet) over 10 years ago. The company provides aircraft handling, clearances and ground support, security, and fuel in Dar es Salaam. At Kilimanjaro International Airport, VIA also has 80,000 square feet of hangar space. The company is currently rebranding for expansion from Tanzania across the African continent.

Susan exemplifies the entrepreneurial journey: “I have no fear,” she’ll tell you.

What she does have is deeply-held passion and conviction, first for aircraft, and then for proving that business can be conducted professionally across the African continent. She shares that commitment in this short video:


VIA Aviation from African Leadership Network on Vimeo.

VIA Aviation1How we support women entrepreneurs like Susan Mashibe
Over the years Susan has needed different kinds of support to build the business infrastructure VIA Aviation has required. At the Trestle Group Foundation, this is exactly the kind of entrepreneur we seek to serve. The world over, women are following their dreams and serving needs in their communities. They are visionaries, and learning fast to build the required business infrastructures for their organizations. This includes everything: accounting systems, marketing and communication, advanced strategic decision-making, valuation and more. They haven’t got time to learn each area of business themselves or take years off for MBAs.

At the Trestle Group Foundation, our function is to connect passionate, engaged women entrepreneurs in emerging markets with professional expertise in sponsor organizations. We believe that together, empowering women entrepreneurs to build thriving businesses, we support economic development and social progress.

As part of an innovative partnership with Equity Bank, Swisscontact and SCBF, Susan has been paired with a self-nominated, 20+ member, cross-functional team at Credit Suisse. The bank features this program as part of its commitment to skills-based volunteering. On Monday, 10 March, Susan will be a featured speaker in Zurich to honor International Women’s Day.

Empowering Women Entrepreneurs Changes the World for the Better
Research shows that empowering women entrepreneurs in emerging markets has a multiplier effect in their communities, fueling economic growth and social progress. Vital Voices’ outstanding publication Groundbreakers: Using the strength of women to rebuild the world economy includes the following:

In the book, Women Empowered: Inspiring Change in the Emerging World (2007), former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright cites the economic benefits of investing in women, pointing out that women reinvest 90% of their income in their families and communities, compared to men who reinvest only 30% to 40% of their income.

Susan Mashibe is an outstanding example — both as a role model for young Tanzanian girls and because one of her primary commitments is to give back through schools in the community where she grew up. We’re proud to do whatever we can to support her great work and commitment.

Susan w students at hangar


To find out more about VIA Aviation, see their Web site: VIA Aviation.
To learn more about the Empowering Women Entrepreneurs program, contact us.


Photos courtesy of Credit Suisse’s Evelyn Guyot and Louisa Freer, and Susan Mashibe and VIA Aviation.