Interview with Iman Mkwanazi

We recently caught up with Iman Mkwanazi, a Miss South Africa semifinalist and all round great woman. She has been investing in the future of the South African youth through her involvement in entrepreneurial programmes such as Pioneer Nation and now she has a platform to further the effect of work…

Firstly congratulations on your nomination, how does it feel to be in the running to be the next Miss South Africa?

It’s an amazing feeling to say the least, I’m up against some extraordinary individuals so it’s really character building. We all in the run to be Miss SA, a woman to me who stands for independence, kindness, beauty and intelligence. It’s the opportunity to give back to society on a greater platform, to inspire young girls and the youth across the country to go out there and achieve their goals.

What are some of the key elements of the pageant that get you excited?

I am a representation of the modern day South African women, I want to let women especially young women know that they do not have to limit themselves to one characteristic; you can be beautiful, intelligent and kind simultaneously, Miss SA affords me the opportunity to this on a greater scale. I come from Lenasia which is an Indian dominated region but I never let the colour of my skin or my struggles limit my development. I want to inspire women young and old to reach their greatest potential and to believe in themselves so strongly that they can accomplish anything and everything they put their mind too. I believe my passion and determination to the empowerment of women is what I will bring to the role of Miss South Africa. I’m thankful for the opportunity to be a part of an event that holds so much history and that celebrates women and their beauty

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How do you plan on making a difference as Miss South Africa? You have been involved in Entrepreneurial programs, is this something you want to continue with, if so, what are some of your plans?

I am very passionate about education and entrepreneurship, to create an informed society. I’m currently busy working on an initiative targeted for school children, between grade 11-12. The idea comes from the fact that not everyone is meant for institutionalize education and with unemployment rate of 26,6% we need to start finding alternative solutions beyond education. I believe if the direction is correct we can create a culture of entrepreneurship amongst the use as a means to help not only their standard of living but the standard of living in their communities.

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Who are some of your role models and why?

Dr Anna Mokgokong, a South African businesswoman who is internationally recognised for her entrepreneurial skills; Florence Matomela, Winnie Mandela, Jay Alexander, Helen Joseph, Albertina Sisulu, Lillian Ngoyi the list goes on. These women have all taught me ambition, persistence, determination and resilience. They taught me to fight for my equality no matter what, and most of all they taught what it is to give without expecting; Phumzile Ngcuka and Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma; these women show me regularly that we can create a social impact not only in South Africa but Africa and the world.

What areas do you think need urgent attention in South Africa’s socio-economic landscape?

It’s unemployment and lack of education, I believe that is the root of much of our problems in our country. Research proves that a more educated society is likely improve the quality of living in that particular society. As a developing nation we face the problems of access to education and resources; we have identified the problem it’s not time to bring effective solutions and this shouldn’t be left to the government alone, the people of South Africa need to start participating.

South Africa, especially Johannesburg, has a thriving creative scene that sees new brands, events and creative personalities gaining traction on a day to day basis, what or who are some of your favourite products of South Africa?

Levi’s, I’ve worked with the brand in trying to spread the culture of entrepreneurship through seminars such as Pioneer Nations.
Puma, a brand that has worked towards the empowerment of women through their association with the likes of Nomzamo Mbatha.
Banks such as Nedbank, have moved to also teach the youth about entrepreneurship.
Sun International, the Miss SA platform is a means of empowering women through charity work.
CellC with their Girl Child Bursary fund. There are plenty of brands that are looking to involve themselves with empowering women, youth and children.

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