Meet Nozi Nkoe, Free State’s most influential young person

Nkoe was on Sunday named one of the top 100 most influential people in the province in the public sector category.

One of Free State’s most influential young people is not just the chief director of environmental management in the Free State provincial government, Nozi Nkoe, 41, is also a dedicated hunter.

Going to a shooting range is therapy for her and she also runs a foundation to empower teenage girls.

Nkoe was on Sunday named one of the top 100 most influential people in the province in the public sector category at the Young Free Stator awards 2021.

The awards recognise individuals aged between 16 and 45 who make a difference in the province.

Nkoe was selected from a list of more than 500 other young people.

She extended her honour and gratitude for the award to those who have supported her throughout her career, particularly in the provincial government.

“Hence, I didn’t collect the award alone and was accompanied to the stage by a doctor, a few scientists and some girls from my foundation.

“Being recognised as one of the top 100 most influential young people in the Free State made my year and made me realise that God has been with me and will always be,” she said.

She described herself as coming from “humble beginnings”, being raised with love by her grandparents.

“Being rejected by both my biological parents, I was blessed to be raised with love by my grandmother and grandfarther and after they died, my aunt and uncle took over the responsibility of raising me.”

Due to her aunt being busy with other responsibilities, Nkoe worked at restaurants when she was 17 and applied to what was then the Tertiary Education Fund Scheme of South Africa to finish her studies in the environmental field.

“My harsh experience of 1998 as a teenager with the little that I had encouraged me to move with the foundation.

“This was after a family meeting, I expressed my need for underwear as I had sanitary towels but I couldn’t use them
on loose or torn underwear.

“One of my wealthiest uncles at the time explained to me, in front of other family members and a few strangers, that it wasn’t an obligation to buy me underwear and doing so would be doing me a favour.”

ALSO READ: Nhlanhla Lux: Meet the man who saved Maponya Mall from looters

This sparked the beginning of the Nozi is Love Foundation to provide teenagers with underwear and sanitary towels. Since then, she said she vowed to work hard to one day be able to afford to buy an underwear store
or own an underwear manufacturing company to help girls in similar situations.

After completing her masters degree in the environmental field in 2009, she gained experience and skills in various industries specialising in safety, health, environment and biodiversity and the wildlife sector.

At Eskom, she worked in distribution then moved to headquarters at Megawatt Park under generation environmental management as an environmental senior adviser.

She ended her career at the power utility in the nuclear sector. She has also been in the mining, oil field services industry, as well as being a part-time lecturer up to masters level.

“I have more than 15 years of vast experience within the environmental fraternity,” she said.

But not only is Nkoe a professional natural scientist, she is also a dedicated hunter in the wildlife industry and a
sports shooter.

For her, shooting is therapeutic. “I do that full time with my own equipment. It’s my therapy.

“I go to the shooting range like I take a bath – almost every day.

“My biggest therapy is in shooting activities. “The fascination of aiming, nailing the target and the
enjoyment is refreshing, always.”

Another target she wanted to nail was to continue to empower and mentor as many women as possible in the environmental field.

“In terms of the Nozi is Love Foundation, I will continue to support and adopt as many teenage girls as possible.

“I do this in terms of building better communities for South Africa and living a life that counts,” said the influential Free Stator.

Read more on these topics

Business Insight leadership