It was an exciting evening on Friday, November 27, as Zimbabwean Natasha Dlamini was crowned Miss Career Africa in a colorful grand finale held at Kigali Marriott Hotel.
The annual contest, which is in its second edition, is a program that empowers young women professionals, entrepreneurs, and aspiring students through the provision of university scholarships, career guidance, entrepreneurship incubation development, leadership training, and networking.
Dlamini, 24, was among the 15 finalists, including four Rwandan representatives, selected out of the 20 contestants who were undergoing a four-day boot camp since Monday, November 23, at Seeds of Peace Hotel in Kayonza, Eastern province.
The finalists whose best project pitches were announced on the fourth and final day of the boot camp during which a team of experts helped them in shaping their ideas into viable and scale-able business models.
Dlamini won the contest when her project outscored 14 others after a two-hour project presentation held before a six-member panel of judges leads by local artiste Thomas Muyombo.
Also on the panel, were Miss University Burundi Dative Uwimana, Alex Ntare, the Chief Executive Officer of the Rwanda ICT Chamber, Zimbabwean Nyasha Serimani, Mott McDonald Project Director Addie van Ommering and Talent Match Founder and CEO Allen Kendunga.
It was a tricky challenge for the best project given that each of the contestants pitched a well-researched profitable project which can benefit them and the community in general. However, after a 15-minute discussion between the judges, Dlamini’s project was given a nod.
To the Zimbabweans, the crown came as a surprise after a tough challenge from other contestants.
“I am so excited and happy to win this crown. I was really surprised to be crowned the winner because I was competing with contestants with amazing and smart projects. I am now going to focus on the implementation of my project,” Dlamini said after her announcement.
Dlamini’s winning project, Silence Guns, is a community engagement initiative mainly touching on SDG 1, 2, and 3.
It also aligns with the theme that was set by the African Union which is ‘silencing the guns’ in a push towards achieving the 263 agendas set by the African Union.
The project feeds the displaced and sends refugee girls to school through social consumerism that creates sustainable solutions to fight against hunger and revive inter-generational partnerships.
It also encourages beneficiaries to start growing their own food through a concept of ‘100 fold beds’ that uses very little space and water yet delivers good crop harvest-funds from harvest.
Dlamini, who walked away with US$5,000 (about Rwf4.7 million), replaces last year’s Miss Career Africa Yvette Mukamwiza of Rwanda.
Apart from the overall winner of the contest, 11 other crowns were up for grabs. They include;
Miss Career-West Africa: Eze Ifunanya Nneamaka (Nigeria)
Miss Career- Central Africa: Mabula Manganze Grace (DRC)
Miss Career-East Africa: Seraphine Akoth Okeyo (Kenya)
Miss Southern Africa: Nothabo Ncube (Zimbabwe)
Miss Speaker: Oluwadamilola Akintewe (Nigeria)
Miss Art &Talent: Atosha Genevieve Iranyuze (Rwanda)
Miss Career-Agriculture: Gisele Mignone Irankunda (Rwanda)
Miss STEM: Delica Izere (Burundi)
Miss Career- Hospitality: Maloka Prudence Mohlago (South Africa)
Miss Career-Conservation: Ineza Nice Cailie (Burundi).
Contestants who weren’t able to make it into the top 15 were given certificates of appreciation for their participation in the competition.