Refilwe Ledwaba is the founder and executive director of Women & Aviation, a registered hybrid organisation dedicated to the sustainable economic empowerment, leadership and personal development of women in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields, with a focus on the aviation and space industry through various strategic programmes.W&A has established a registered non-profit organisation: Girl Fly Programme in Africa (GFPA) Foundation, an information and skills development STEM education programme for school and post-school learners with a particular focus on aviation and space. The programme includes the use of design thinking, technology, and innovation to inspire the next generation of makers and problem solvers in the aviation and space industry in Africa.The organisation is currently operating in South Africa and Botswana
Refilwe’s entrepreneurship journey started 8 years ago when she established Southern African Women in Aviation and Aerospace industry(SAWIA). The success of the SAWIA has led to Refilwe being the recipient of multiple social entrepreneurship awards such as the winner in the entrepreneurship category at the inaugural South African Youth Awards in 2012, the winner of the aviation category of CEO Communication’s Most Influential Women in Business and Government in 2012 and 2015; and she was listed as one of Top 35 Africans Under 35 to watch by the Young People in International Affairs (YPIA) in 2014.
She is a qualified rotor wing and fixed wing pilot. She holds the highest-flying license in helicopters and a commercial license in fixed wings. She is also a qualified fixed-wing flight instructor. 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 with a focus on Airline strategies.