Chit chat: Ernest Kekana

2010-09-24 14:38

Have you always wanted to fly?
Yes. For as long as I can ­remember I have always had a ­fascination with planes.

What challenges have you faced?

I have had my fair share of ­pitfalls – getting operating licences and getting start-up capital for the company proved to be very ­challenging.

It took us two years to get funding. Umsobomvu Youth Fund finally came to our rescue and gave us a R1.2?million loan.

What three words describe you best?

Driven, motivated and ­determined.

What are your tips for ­entrepreneurial success?

It’s simple: don’t do something purely for the money because you will fall short. Rather do ­something you enjoy and the ­money will surely soon follow. ­Also, don’t get discouraged by ­rejection or failure. Try and try again; persistence is key.

How can the shortage of black pilots in SA be addressed?

As K5 grows we strive to employ according to the demographic. We currently employ 30 pilots, and in the next few months we will have 200 staff members.

We also have social development programmes in place for those who cannot afford to pursue their dreams of being ­pilots. One of the reasons K5 was formed was so black kids who are interested in this industry will have a place to go, where they can ­relate, feel comfortable to ask questions and learn.

How do you spend your ­downtime?

I work in my spare time; I’m ­always researching and learning about this industry and how I can make it better.

I’m driven purely by passion and enjoy spending time with my ­4-year-old son; he ­also has a ­passion for planes and loves ­coming to work with me.

How was to be selected as a ­finalist in the Johnnie Walker Celebrating Strides Awards?

That was a great experience; an honour. It was also great exposure for the company.

What principles do you live by?

Tomorrow brings with it another day. Nothing is as bad as it seems so keep calm, be open-minded and stay centred in the face of harsh conditions.

Last word to aspiring pilots?

Be sure that this is something you want to do, be passionate, driven and extremely healthy. And lastly make sure to enjoy every minute of it.

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