Politics and economics top achiever.
Nomahlubi Jakuja describes herself as an opportunist because she has an eye for opportunity and is never afraid to seize one, a trait she believes she inherited from her father. The 30-year-old from Johannesburg is the youngest of four children; her parents were working-class and gave their children the best that they could, moulding Jakuja to be a goal-driven person.
She believes that the continent and the country are eager to embrace talented young politicians, and in the next five years she hopes to be a significant game-changer in how women engage in the political space in South Africa.
Jakuja was selected as one of the Africa Institute of South Africa’s African Young Scholars. As a youth ambassador of One Young World, she collaborates with youth around the continent, lobbying for youth-centric policy change. The continent has a very large young population, and she hopes to forge an African unity that creates intercontinental projects for youth, as well as women-led economic change. She believes that sharing of ideas among young people in Africa not only strengthens ties beyond borders, but is also a way of defeating xenophobia and Afrophobia.
For Jakuja, feminism is a force driving equality and justice. She embodies these principles in her approach to work and in how she creates opportunities for women to change the status quo in male-dominated spaces.
Jakuja wants the earth to breathe better. As a climate change advocate, she calls for green building methods and reduced food waste. She is constantly looking for solutions to grow SMMEs, as she believes that small businesses play a large role in creating a sustainable economy and protecting the earth.
She holds a bachelor of social sciences degree in economics and politics from the University of Cape Town, an honours degree in international relations from the University of KwaZulu-Natal and a master’s in public policy from the University of the Witwatersrand.
In her final year of university, she was the only South African student to be invited to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation’s headquarters in Brussels for the summer. She worked at the World Bank on implementing reforms to improve the business environment for small and medium-sized enterprises. She worked as a country coordinator for the United Nations and was head of economic research and policy for the South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU). Jakuja now works at the national department of health, leveraging private sector expertise for dispensing chronic medication.
She draws a lot of inspiration from fearless women who never allowed where they come from to stand in the way of getting what they want. Despite her many accomplishments, Jakuja believes that her greatest achievement is yet to come. This belief ensures that she’s constantly improving herself.