Entrepreneur Zikhona Ngxata lost her mother when she was 15 but “what was a dreadful experience birthed a mother in me and gave me a purpose. I realised that helping other young people was my destiny. I was determined to be part of the solution.”
Ngxata’s company, Miss EC Beauty with a Purpose (ECBP), a non-Profit Organisation (NPO) which she started seven years ago, was spurred by her direct involvement in the beauty pageant industry.
She said the ongoing misperception that beauty pageants are platforms occupied solely by airheads is false.
“I have been in several beauty competitions: in grade two, in high school, at University of Johannesburg, where I was placed first princess and then in Miss SA, where I was a semi-finalist. This year I entered into Mrs South Africa. It is still running and I am in the top 50, along with two other Eastern Cape women.”
Following the success of ECBP, where several young women were able to transform their lives, she broadened her influence and started Beauty with a Purpose SA, also an NPO, that focuses on youth development and community building from a broader and more measurably impactful perspective.
“Our pillars are education, skills development, entrepreneurship and leadership. I am from Mdantsane and it distressed me to see what was going on with the youth. The social ills of teenage pregnancy, substance abuse and illiteracy, which trapped young people in a cycle of poverty.”
She said two students who got bursaries through the NPO have proved to her that anything regarding people empowerment is possible.
“One student has already qualified with an LLB and will be going into law, and another is in her final stages of becoming a doctor. I believe they will be the first of our many success stories.”
She said that people had questioned her motive for going through another gruelling competition.
“I decided to compete in Mrs SA to prove to our students that nothing is impossible, that win or lose it is the ability and confidence to survive and thrive in what is a very daunting experience. They will see that they can achieve anything they put their minds to and that their dreams are valid, regardless of their background or circumstances”
Ngxata is a sales executive at Ronnies Motors in East London.
“In 2018 the company paid for me to attend the Find Your Voice (FYV) programme, a Gately Rotary Club initiative. Carey-Lyn Kurten is a project leader at FYV, and one of the founders of the programme that is entering its fifth year. “It is a young adult leadership development year-long course that cultivates leaders with integrity, who can build positive relationships and are active citizens, willing to put service above self. We focus on practical leadership skills and the art of using your leader voice appropriately and effectively.
Ngxata said that on graduating from FYV she “realised my passion was people development. I found my own voice but was also able to use the experience to make a difference in peoples’ lives.”
As a graduate herself, and now a mother of three, she said the biggest challenge encountered by first year university students is being ill-prepared for the rigours of post –school discipline and responsibility, and with it the critical link between leadership, change, and being an active citizen.
While her NPOs do not create careers it does give young people the confidence and expertise to maximise the rare opportunities that do come their way, especially in pandemic times, when over half of SA’s youth are unemployed.
“If we can assist in changing the mindset of first year students and reducing the massive dropout rate, then I would consider our work successful.”
“We are already in the advanced stages of setting up our academy, with our partners, Ronnies and MSC College, a national brand, which we hope to launch in February next year. The aim is taking the achievements from work in East London and Eastern Cape and spreading those out throughout the country.”
To contact Ngxata send an email to Zikhona.Ngxata@ronnies.co.za. For Find Your Voice go to https://www.rotaryfindyourvoice.co.za/.
Daily Dispatch Business Correspondent