Businesswoman, philanthropist,Lucia Ochan-Simelane is determined to empower women in rural villages and neighbouring communities through different projects. She embarked on her social entrepreneurship journey in 2014 with the project called Giving is Always in Style at Amazing Grace Centre for Children.
In 2017, she became Mrs Mpumalanga second runner-up. Over the years, she continues to use the modelling platform to raise worldwide awareness on work being done to advance the rights of the elderly, women and children.
Fast forward to 2010, Ochan-Simelane recently launched the Emphakatsi-iNdlovukati (She Elephant) project, partnering with rural women to uplift, empower and develop their skills.She comes from humble beginnings, where she did not have much but managed push against the odds and make a difference in communities.
Ochan-Simelane said she wanted rural women to be able to start sustainable projects and businesses for the long term by assisting them to be “able to design products and still be able to sell them themselves”.Addressing issues around education, leadership, health, safety and security of the elderly, women and children, is close to her heart.
Ochan-Simelane is also the founder of Fabric of Africa, which involves recycling reusable sanitary towels and a mask project.Ochan-Simelane said the initiative is aimed at promoting sustainable development in agriculture, clothing and textile industries in marginalised communities.
“It’s the year 2020 and women and girls around the world continue to be held back because of the lack of resources for their menstruation. Periods don’t pause for the [Covid-19] pandemic,” said Ochan-Simelane.
Ochan-Simelane is also focused on creating cancer awareness in rural areas so that people can be aware of life-threatening diseases, especially as health facilities were far away for many rural people. She is also the founder and owner of OT Deyo Med Aesthetic Clinic in Mbombela.
Ochan-Simelane was crowned Mrs Globe Africa 2019 in Shenzen, China, last year. Mrs Globe is an international beauty pageant held annually and is open to women aged over 25 and who are married or are parents. The pageant is heavily involved with charity work; funds are raised for the charity called Woman in Need in more than 70 countries around the world.
Other achievements of the beauty queen include, among others, being Play Your Part Ambassador – Brand SA, WIN Foundation – Africa spokesperson, honouree for United Nations Women of Influence Global Award 2019, Sunrise Honouree Award Inspirational Woman of the Year and Mrs Africa Integrity Award. She is also a qualified aesthetician with advanced medical aesthetician training.
“If I put my mind to anything, I know I can do it because I fight till I get it,” said Ochan-Simelane, who was born in Ermelo where she was raised among three sisters by her mother and father who respectively worked in retail and the mines. Being one of the most influential women in SA, Ochan-Simelane stressed that she is about uplifting the community and women who want to make a difference.
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