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Inspiration

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Nana Mzila is a South African born  Construction Engineer, Entrepreneur, Philanthropist and Managing Director of ISU Engineering & Projects (Pty) Ltd.

An engineering consulting and management company owned 100% by black women.

The company, ISU consulting is highly  competent in water resources development and property development.

They are also solution providers for municipal infrastructures, buildings and structures, transportation infrastructure and environmental solutions.

Nana Mzila holds a Master of Technology (MTech) in Construction Management and Bachelor of Technology (BTech) in Construction Management from Durban University of Technology.

She also owns a Master of Business Administration (MBA in Project Management from Texila American University Consortium and a National Diploma in Construction Management & Quantity Surveying from Mangosuthu University of Technology.

Her advice to female entrepreneurs who are just starting out is in her words,  “Show passion in what you do and be honest with yourself and customers/clients, network with other women-owned successful businesses.”

Dr. Nomkhosi Luthuli (PhD) is a 30-year-old South African born Academic, Corporate Speaker, Mentor and Advocate for Development.

She holds a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Regional Economic Development, Agglomeration Economics & the Aerotropolis and Master of Commerce (MCom) in Regional and Local Economic Development from the University of Kwazulu-Natal, a Bachelor of Social Sciences (BS) Honours in Development Studies from the University of Cape Town.

Dr. Nomkhosi Luthuli (PhD)

She is currently the youngest female Lecturer and researcher at the University of Kwazulu Natal’s Graduate School of Business and Leadership.

“I’m driven by breaking boundaries and changing beliefs on how things should be in society. I want to change the perception that aviation and planning for airport cities is a man’s terrain, and I hope to consistently challenge the generalisation that academia is for old people. 

“I know for sure that a determined mind excels whether male or female, young or old in any space of influence, and that there’s no sector too male-dominated and barrier of entry too great for me to break through and do the best I possibly can,” she says.

Lucy Quist is the first Ghanaian woman to head a multinational telecommunications company as the former CEO of Airtel Ghana.

She is a co-founder of the Executive Women Network.

She served as the Vice President of FIFA’s normalisation committee in Ghana.

Lucy is a chartered electrical and electronic engineer with a first-class honours degree from the University of East London.

She is also a member of the Institute of Engineering and Technology (UK) and holds an MBA from INSEAD in France.

She has decades of corporate experience with blue chip companies starting at Ford Motor Company.

She has held senior leadership positions at Millicom, Vodafone and Airtel.

Her career spans manufacturing, telecommunications, banking and automative industries in Europe and Africa.

She is a passionate advocate who believes in harnessing STEM to advance development around the world by ensuring greater participation of young people.

Lucy Quist is currently a Managing Director at Morgan Stanley and the author of the book, ‘The Bold New Normal: Creating The Africa Where Everyone Prospers.’

Her accolades includes – CIMG Marketing Woman of the year, Telecom CEO of the Year, CSR CEO of the year and the Corporate Leadership Award.

She was listed in the second publication of 100 Most Influential African Women in 2020 by Avance Media.

Advocate Fadzayi Mahere is a 35-year-old Zimbabwean born inspirational and trailblazing – Lawyer, Politician and Human Rights Activist.

She has been vocal on social media challenging the Zimbabwe government on corruption and human rights issues.

She was among those arrested for taking part in Zimbabwe protests in 2020, with protesters accusing the government of corruption, human rights abuse and mis-governance.

Fadzayi  holds a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) in Corporate Tax Law, Criminal Law & Human Rights Law from the University of Zimbabwe and a Master of Laws (LLM) degree in International Criminal Law & International Commercial Litigation from the University of Cambridge, UK.

Fadzayi is also an international speaker on African development and has spoken at the Harvard African Development Conference 2017 and the University of Cape Town Zimbabwe Society. She regularly gives talks at schools on the importance of civic engagement by young people and women’s rights.

She ran for the post of Member of Parliament for Mt Pleasant Constituency where she contested as an independent candidate in the 2018 election.

Fadzayi has since joined Zimbabwe’s main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change, where she has been appointed the Shadow Secretary for Education, Sport and Culture.

She is currently the Spokesperson of the Zimbabwe’s main opposition party – MDC Alliance.

Despite of all the arrests and political intimidation Advocate Mahere continues to speak out in support of human rights and advocating for the rights of disadvantaged citizens in Zimbabwe.

 Abati Esther is the third child in a family of six. She was born on the 10th of May, 1999. She is an Indigene of Ogun State. She is currently in her fourth year in Olabisi Onabanjo University studying Law. She is a blogger, an aspiring model and an humanitarian.

She shares her “RUBY GIRL” story with the team

1. Let’s Know You. Who is Abati Esther? 

I am Abati Esther, the third child in a family of six. I am 21 years, clocking 22 soon by May.  A penultimate law student of Olabisi Onabanjo University, a blogger, an aspiring model and an humanitarian. I am a co founder of PREESIM FOUNDATION and a member of Pealim Foundation, the CEO of Ayo_Stitches, a brand that deals with male and female materials, wears amongst others.

 Has Law always been your dream course? If not, what prompted you to study Law?

Yes, Law has always been my dream. And I’m also happy that my dad loves the profession so I was not forced to study the course.

You’re the co-founder of PREESIM FOUNDATION. What birthed the vision and what does it entail?

Hmmm, PREESIM FOUNDATION is a non-governmental organization established by two of my best friends and me, the name of the foundation was derived from our names: Precious, Esther and Simi. After the death of one of my friends, I saw all what she accomplished before she died, she made sure she impacted lives and helped the less privileged through the establishment of a foundation. May her Soul Rest in Peace. Then, I thought that if my friend who knew she had short stay on earth could do something so inspiring like this, why can’t I also impact lives and make people happy? So, on August 9, 2020, a day after Precious’ birthday, I messaged my two best friends and discussed with them, they were happy because they also thought of establishing a foundation. I gave them the name of the foundation and they loved it.

The foundation was fully established on September 1, 2020. The main aim of the foundation is to provide for the needy and help the less privileged. Though there are lots of foundations around, yet they can not reach everyone, this is why we are joining the other foundations in reaching out to lives. We are not just providing material needs, we are also trying to impact lives.

And ever since the establishment of PREESIM FOUNDATION, we’ve had the privilege of reaching out to the less privileged, educating the female students on how to be sexually safe and personal hygiene. Also, on March 26, 2021, we were able to reach out to the needy at Ijebu Igbo and the students of Imere Moslem School at Ago Iwoye on April 1, 2021. We are not stopping there. By the special grace of God, we will be reaching out to the orphans to celebrate children’s day with them in May. You can check our page on Instagram @preesim_foundation.

4. Your greatest fear?

My greatest fear is losing my loved ones.

5. What is the influence of your black ebony skin on your modelling career?

Like I said earlier, I’m an an aspiring model, I’m not in any agency for now due to some factors. But my complexion is a blessing from God which I don’t have any intention of tampering with. Most people do appreciate my complexion and I’m always happy, it is part of the reason why I want to venture into modelling but I don’t want it to affect my education. I believe if I work more, I can achieve something great with it.

 What are the topics or subjects you address in your blog and what inspires your writing?

Some of the topics I address in my blog are: Addiction, Rape, Social Injustices and Racial Discrimination, Unfriendly Wife-Beaters… Others can be found at wwwtheabatisblogonline.wordpress.com .

What inspires my writing? Well, I’m not the type that writes always. The main thing that inspires my writing is the society.

 You’re a member of Pealin Foundation, what is the significance of foundations like this in the society and what are the major challenges they face?

Pealim Foundation is also a non-governmental organization whose aim is to help a child live well. I am also a member of this foundation.

Foundations like these have lots of impacts in the society. They help in improving the standards of living of millions of families in the society. They educate and enlighten the society on things they are not aware of. They help to fight hunger in the society. People are really suffering, when you get to different communities, you will know that lots of people in the society needs help, financially, emotionally, spiritually and even health wise. These are the reasons why foundations like these exist.

Although to carry out any project in foundations is not easy. Because there is no project you will want to carry out that will not involve money. I can remember the first outreach of my foundation, PREESIM FOUNDATION which was on December 11, 2020. We made graphics to call for donations and we asked members to pay any amount and as at then, we were just six members including the three founders. On December 2, when I called Precious to ask whether we’ve been able to get some cash, she said no money has entered the account. I became unhappy, I told her that we have less than two weeks to carry out the project, she said this foundation is not for us Esther, it is for God, so trust him, He will do something about it. Well, I trusted God, I started praying. Some days later, one of my friend’s sister called me and said she will like to sponsor the foundation, she asked for the foundation’s account details which I gave her. I was so happy. To cut the long story short, we were able to gather some money to carry out the project, in fact, the rice we shared was bought for us by one of our sponsors. Then, I believed that WHAT GOD CAN NOT DO DOES NOT EXIST.

Besides this, foundations do have problems with their members. Some members are not committed and you know that you can’t force people. Most people don’t understand why they are volunteers. They become volunteers because they want people to know that they are in a foundation. Not knowing that it has to do with lots of sacrifices and commitments.

 Your favourite quote?
As earlier said, my favorite quote is “What God can not do does not exist”

You have your own fashion line, Ayo_Stitches. How do you cater for the fashion needs of your customers?

As I always say, I’m not a professional, I’m still learning. The idea of owning a fashion line came during the covid 19 lockdown period, I must say that I achieved a lot during this period.
Ayo_Stitches is a brand that deals with male and female materials and wears. Well, catering for the fashion needs of my customers have not been easy because I only have opportunity to sew at home, I rarely do that in school because I don’t have sewing machine in school and my parents won’t allow me to bring my sewing machine to school. But most times, when it’s not during exam period and my customers want to sew, I usually borrow my friend’s sewing machine to do that and if I’m busy and I noticed that my customer really needs it, I will ask one of my friends to help me with that. God really blessed me with good friends.

You serve as the Financial Secretary of Justice Cloaks Chambers. How has the experience been for you?

Well, I’m still the financial secretary of JCC. Though I’m new to holding posts because I’ve never held one before but I’m learning. Sometimes, when we want to have meeting, I would have forgotten because I’m not used to it. But the President has been helpful.

Mention 3 women who inspire you and why.

My mum is the first woman that inspires me. That woman is a strong woman, infact she is my role model. She perseveres a lot and never gave up. The second woman is Precious’ mum that is my best friend’s mum. She constantly lets me know that without God, I am nothing. She helps my spiritual growth.

The third woman is Mrs Funke Felix-Adejumo. I love the way she dedicates herself towards impacting lives and her seminars do inspires me. I love everything about her

 If you were the president of Nigeria for one day, what changes will you put in place?

Hmmm, a lot. One of them is youth empowerment. The second is that I will try my possible best to fight hunger in the society. Also, I will improve the educational sector and make sure the less privileged get educated. There are lots of children out there who are willing to go to school but are not capable financially. Also, I will improve the health sector. In fact, I will change a lot.

Your advice to young females five years younger than you

My advice to young females younger than me is that your life matters a lot to you. Don’t allow what people say to affect your life. Lots of girls out there are going through a lot but don’t have anyone to speak with which is why they do things like committing suicide.

You are a woman even though you are young so be strong and be happy. And always put God first, with Him, everything is possible.

Prof Puleng LenkaBula is the first woman to be appointed Vice-Chancellor of the University of South Africa (Unisa) in its 148-year-long existence.

She resumed her new position in January 2021.

She was the Vice-Rector: Institutional Change, Student Affairs and Community Engagement at the University of the Free State (UFS).

Before joining UFS, Prof LenkaBula was the Dean of Students at the University of Witwatersrand, where she was a member of the Vice-Chancellor’s Office (VCO) and the senior executive team.

Professor LenkaBula is of mixed decent (Lesotho and South Africa). She holds a PhD in Ethics (Theology and Philosophy) with specialisation in Ethics of the Economy, Ecology and Politics (Social Ethics) from the University of South Africa.

She obtained a Master’s degree (MTS) in Social Ethics from St Andrew’s College at the University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada and a Bachelor of Education with three majors in English, Theology, and Education from the National University of Lesotho.

Professor Puleng LenkaBula is a board member of local and international ecumenical and academic formations.

Her appointment is indeed commendable as a significant step towards transformation and inclusivity. The appointment of Prof LenkaBula to such as powerful and influential position at UNISA, will surely give the much needed momentum to the university’s ongoing transformation agenda, and initiatives.

. “The global knowledge arena does not have many women,” she says, “let alone black women in leading positions. For me, this appointment validates the sentiments of black girls and black boys who might not have had the confidence that they could be able to assume leadership positions in different sectors. They might be inspired to know that it is possible to become the leader of a university of our size and impact.” Prof  Puleng says.

Captain Kgomotso Phatsima, one of the first female military pilots in the Botswana Defence Force.

She is the founder and President of Dare to Dream – a social enterprise dedicated to the advancement of young women and girls in STEM Aviation and Aerospace as well as Entrepreneurship development skills.

She holds a Bachelor of Education in Mathematics from the University of Botswana, Basic Military Flying from the Flying Training School (Botswana Defence Force), Commercial Pilots Licence from Civil Aviation Authority of Botswana, Master of Science (MSc) in Strategic Management from the University of Derby.

“When I was growing up, I never had the chance to sit like this with a pilot or get into an airplane until I had the chance to fly one,” she said.

“After I qualified as a pilot, I sat down and thought: ‘What can I do to give the upcoming generation – especially those who grew up in a village, like me – an opportunity to do that?’.

“I started Dare to Dream to give back to the community and to try and open up their eyes to opportunities that they wouldn’t otherwise be exposed to,” she added.

 

Hon. Emma Theofelus, Africa’s youngest appointed Deputy Minister. On 22 March 2020, at age 23, she was sworn in as Namibia’s Deputy Minister of Information and Communication Technology.

Hon. Theofelus is a Lawyer and Social Justice Advocate with a demonstrated track record of working in the legal services and advocacy industry.

She is also considered as one of Africa’s youngest Member of Parliament (MP). Before her life-changing appointment, she was employed as a legal officer in the Ministry of Justice where she dealt with drafting human rights reports as well as implementing the human rights strategy of the nation, among others.

She has also worked with various youth groups, such as Global Shapers Windhoek.

She shone in those ranks and her effort appear to have earned her a spot in the nation’s parliament.

She holds an LLB (Honours) in Law from the University of Namibia, a Diploma in Business Management from Amity University and a Diploma in Afrikan Feminism and Gender Studies from the University of South Africa.

As a teenager, she has served in various positions including – Deputy Speaker of the Children’s Parliament of Namibia.

Celebrate her greatness!

Ropa Mupambwa, inspirational and trailblazing Zimbabwean born female Footwear and Handbag Designer and founder of Celyn Roze, a footwear and fashion brand based in Calgary, Canada and sold globally.

Mupambwa moved from Zimbabwe to Canada when she was 12 years old.

Upon arriving in Canada, her first job was at the mall, because she was drawn to fashion, styling, and working with different fabrics.

She noted how women go through stages in life, from having children to growing older, and through these times, they need their heel height to change.

Women have always wanted the luxury of wearing any shoe they want in any heel size they prefer but most of the time, the heel sizes are restrictive.

Ropa Mupambwa aims to produce fashion staples such as her one shoe, five different heels under her fashion brand Celyn Roze to fill the gap.

In 2019, this led her to launch Celyn Roze with the vision of designing shoes in five different heel heights: flats, 3.5 cm, 6 cm, 9 cm, and 12 cm.

All Celyn Roze shoes have a signature orange sole and a cushioned insert so that wearers can benefit from the comfort of extra padding (something all women have been waiting for).

“I noticed that people would end up wearing the wrong heel height, or they just ended up not buying shoes because they don’t have the right heel height,” she said. I wanted to fill in the gap in this challenging day.” she said.

Mupambwa credits her mom, whose name is Celyn Roze, as a massive inspiration for her journey in the fashion industry.

“When I started designing and selling shoes, I wanted my brand to be different. I wanted something unique and to solve a problem as well,” she said.

Ropa credits her mother, who used to sew ready-to-wear outfits, and grandmother’s crocheting skills for her fashion sense.

“My mom has a sleek fashion background, and she did a little bit of tailoring back home,” she said. “She used to do ready-to-wear outfits and wedding dresses. She even made her own wedding dress.”

Ropa believes women should be free and confident to embrace whatever heel height they want according to the various life cycles they go through as well. Women should be allowed to feel beautiful in any heel height they wear.

Londy Ngcobo Blaqmermaid is a former Maritime Compliance Manager for Transnet National Ports Authority, Founder of Global Maritime Youth and Chief Executive of Womaritime Experts, a consulting firm in the shipping industry. All which has led to her well known title “The Blaqmermaid”.

Londy Ngcobo Blaqmermaid is a 33-year-old South African born Global Ship Navigator and Africa’s First Female Dredge Master, making waves on land as Businesswoman, Global Speaker, Conference Facilitator, Women & Youth Activist in Transport.

She has over 13 years of experience in the Maritime industry, her background includes Maritime Studies, International Merchant shipping experience, Advanced dredging from Netherlands IHC.

This Black Excellence award-winning Woman in Scarce Skills serves on various boards in Transport Sector and influential organizations within leadership, women and youth spheres ensuring continuous development of Africa’s transport professions through advocacy, training, and awareness as well as strengthening the competitiveness and employment creating potential for Africans.

Captain Londy’s focus is on providing sustainable tools for women to thrive in scarce skills and her zest for life encourages the youth to think outside the box, with her Forbes Women Africa piercing phrase “I didn’t choose to be Rose from the Titanic, I chose to Captain the Titanic” and through her popular TEDx Talk “Anchors Aweigh, No Rest For The First”.