Beauty queen Martha Kautanevali is not only the reigning Miss Earth Namibia 2023, but also a dedicated civil engineer who currently channels her expertise into her role as a building inspector.
Kautanevali, who was crowned Miss Public Choice as well as the second runner-up at this year’s Miss Namibia pageant, caught up with The Weekender this week to talk about her passion for her career and dreams beyond being a model.
Kautanevali is a civil engineer with a certification in project management. She is also the founder of the Queenshono Mentorship Programme and co-founded the Women in Business Network, which provides a casual atmosphere for business and corporate women to engage, support and encourage each other.
The determined young model hails from the village Ohamwaala-Edundja in the Ohangwena region.
Beyond her professional life, Kautanevali says her passions are as diverse as her talents. She particularly finds solace in the pages of books, enjoys the thrill of tennis and treasures the inner peace of yoga.
She says her commitment to making a positive impact extends beyond her day job, with her serving on the reviewing panel of the Young African Leaders Initiative, contributing her skills and insights on a voluntary basis.
Kautanevali also holds pivotal roles in several key organisations, such as the nonprofit Namibian Women in Engineering, where she shines as a sustainable development officer, and the Namibian Society of Engineers, where she fosters education and training as the development officer, as well as her role as the secretary general of the Junior Chamber International Namibia.
In recognition of her expertise and dedication, she was a keynote speaker at the Unesco 9th African Engineering Week and the 6th African Women in Engineering Forum, where she championed the cause of economic, environmental, social and governance aspects within the engineering sector.
As if her plate isn’t full enough, Kautanevali also established Grow with Queenshono by Martha Kautanevali, a platform that revolves around three core pillars: youth empowerment, community development and environmental awareness.
Under these pillars, she has initiated a variety of impactful projects, including the ‘Donate a Tree’ campaign, environmental awareness clubs in schools, clean-up campaigns and mentorship programmes for university students.
She believes she has the qualities of a true leader through making a significant mark in her community, her profession and the world at large through her dedication, passion and commitment to creating a brighter, more sustainable future.
Kautanevali says her involvement in beauty pageants started with exploring her hobbies and interests, and acts as a spark to her purpose.
“Modelling serves me as a hobby and a passion for change. I always knew I wanted to be more than just an ordinary girl. They say ordinary is usually boring, and I knew I had a purpose bigger than myself. It, however, needed to be awakened through sharing my story and presenting myself on platforms that allowed me to be seen and heard,” says Kautanevali.
“I took my first Miss Namibia shot in 2021, but I did not place and only ended in the top 30. Then I came back this year, where I won two accolades. I am so humbled by the love and support I have received during my journey to these awards, and I will forever be grateful for my people. They made me, and I will surely carry them in my year of reign.
“Their support, love and kindness have got me to where I am today. I believe in the power of relationships, whether work, family, or friendships; there is growth, peace, business and collaboration.”
Over recent years, Kautanevali says she has witnessed the urgent need for heightened environmental awareness and the active involvement of youth in preserving natural resources.
This has prompted her to establish Grow with Queenshono by Martha Kautanevali.
“Under this, I have initiated a variety of impactful projects, including the Donate a Tree campaign aimed at fostering a sense of environmental consciousness in our communities because the beneficiaries are schools, orphanages and public spaces,” she says.
The project’s main objectives are to cultivate a culture of gardening among the youth, as well as a sense of responsibility and ownership to combat issues of climate change and food insecurity in Namibia.
“The bigger part of donating trees to schools is initiating environmental awareness clubs in schools,” she says.
“With this task, I aim to create a platform in which we collectively foster environmental consciousness, educating learners and communities about ecological issues, as well as promoting sustainable practices and developments,” says Kautanevali.
She is driven to do this through workshops, seminars and hands-on activities, she adds.
“I believe through this initiative, the learners will be equipped with the knowledge and skills to become responsible stewards of our environment.”
Under the same umbrella, Kautanevali has also initiated a number of clean-up campaigns in Windhoek.
“At the moment, I have a mentorship programme that is active for university students. This programme is led by myself and my fellow mentors,” she says.
She invites all Namibians and corporate entities to take part in donating trees and supporting the initiative.
“I am also inviting all schools to take on the initiative of environmental awareness clubs. Together, we can shape a more environmentally conscious and socially responsible Namibia.”
So far, Kautanevali has received 100 trees, both indigenous and fruit-bearing, as well as vegetables, with more donations received from the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism and other individuals.
She has also collaborated with different organisations to collectively provide for the basic needs of underserved communities, including Solar Systems Namibia, Charity Works Havana, EMA and Namspire Sports.
“All of these are an indication of how strong and impactful collaborations and partnerships can be, because together we can make a huge contribution.”
As for her future plans, she says she looks forward to getting her motorcycle licence because of her love for biking, as well as growing her property development business, M’kwaanyoka Properties, and strengthening the collaborations she has gained thus far.
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