By Yanga Ziwele | BKCOB
Social Entrepreneur Zikhona Ngxata is well on her way to being one of the most formidable agents of change in women and youth empowerment in the Eastern Cape.
The 33-year-old Mdantsane born powerhouse is a wife, a mother of three, a star Car Sales Executive for Ronnie’s Motors, founder of Miss Eastern Cape Beauty with a Purpose, and the third runner up in the Mrs South Africa beauty pageant.
Her journey has not been an easy one, especially after losing her mother at the age of 15, but she said that it was this loss that inspired her to become a beacon of hope for other women and young people who have had similar experiences.
“Losing my mom at that age actually gave me a purpose, it birthed a mother in me. Going through puberty and not having someone to talk to was hard. It really made me think of the many girls who go through life lacking that emotional support, and sometimes even struggling to find their own purpose and direction in life. So, I decided that I was going to be that person for them,” said Ngxata.
Seven years ago, her dream of empowering young women came to fruition when she founded Miss Eastern Cape Beauty with a Purpose, a Non-Profit Organisation which empowers young girls from previously disadvantaged communities through Skills Development, Education, Entrepreneurship, Leadership and Technology.
Through the NPO, Ngxata has managed to mobilise bursaries for young girls, two of which have gone on to pursue degrees in Law, and medicine respectively. The NPO has also been supported with bursaries by MSC business college who offered to take one girl from ECBWP each year, giving them full tuition for the course of their choice.
After having successfully run an NPO, and helping young girls find their feet, Ngxata decided to try out for the Mrs South Africa Beauty Pageant, a move which she said was inspired by the need to further advance her ability to give back.
“I felt as though I had been giving from a full cup, until it was running kind of empty. So, this was a chance for me to refill my cup so I could serve my community even better.
The Mrs South Africa Journey has been so fulfilling because of the reasons that I’m doing it for, which is the further advancement of young women, and also inspiring the girls I have been leading and the ones I am still to lead,” she says.
One of Ngxata’s biggest supporters is her employer, Ronnie’s Motors, where she has worked for 12 years, and is currently a leading Car Sales Executive. The company has sponsored a lot of her initiatives, including her Journey through Mrs South Africa. She has been a CSI beneficiary, as well as brand ambassador for their various car brands.
Working and excelling in the highly competitive and male dominated field of car sales can be challenging, but Ngxata asserted that she was more than prepared for the challenge and actually breaking the stereotype that women knew nothing about cars.
“I like to break stereotype, and change narratives. I wanted to prove that women have the same potential, same capabilities as men, and break the societal stereotype that women are not fit, or worthy, or that they should only be doing certain jobs.”
“It was challenging in the beginning because clients will come with questions such as “how long have you been working here”, or ask questions they wouldn’t ask males just test you, and check if you are well capacitated to sell them a car, and I had to step up to the challenge,” she says.
In 2018 Ngxata was involved in the Rotary Youth Leadership – Find Your Voice programme, which she said taught her a lot, not just about leadership, but the importance of finding one’s purpose and aligning their everyday life with it.
“More than finding your dreams, find your purpose. Have a reason why you want to do things, because when you have your why, everything around you and your behaviour will revolve around what you want to achieve,” she concluded.