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Nicole Nasson spoke to Muis Maleka, a budding philanthropist, about building a brand, her charity work and not being able to sleep

Innovator, pageant winner, ambassador, radio presenter and motivator. These are just a few of the words used to describe Masake ‘Muis’ Maleka. Muis, as she is affectionately called, is a multiple title-holder, with multiple awards and achievements under her belt. This third-year BA Humanities student is a force of nature and not only does she not plan on stopping any time soon, Muis aims for world domination (well kind of).

Muis’ journey first started with an anti-bullying campaign she launched at her high school. This was a project close to her heart as she herself was bullied at school. “I would go home and cry hysterically, but I [had] to be the change I [wanted] to see and go to the schools and actually talk about these things and not be an internal victim,” Muis said. Muis also saw a need for sanitary towels in underprivileged schools. Upon visiting a village school, Muis overheard a conversation between two girls in the bathroom where the one expressed her issues about coming to school while menstruation.

“I started working with [this girl] and she helped me identify children who actually needed [these sanitary towels],” Muis said. This led Muis to establish her foundation, Meisie Muis Motivates (MMM), which was only officially founded in her first year at Stellenbosch University, in 2017. MMM collects and distributes sanitary towels to those in need and hosts motivational talks about menstruation and bullying at primary schools. Muis received the Matric Achiever of the Year award from her district for her work with MMM. Muis received her trademark nickname by accident. “My hockey coach said waar’s daai meisie, but [my teammates] misheard and thought she said muis instead of meisie,” Muis said. Muis liked the name and it eventually stuck, especially since it’s such a fitting description of her: small, but busy. Muis even liked it so much that she incorporated it into her brand.

After MMM’s establishment, Muis set her sights on another goal: pageantry. Against a lot of naysay, Muis won the Miss Teen Commonwealth Charity 2017 Pageant. Muis notes that this was one of her most noteworthy achievements thus far as she was somewhat of an underdog. “I’m not tall, number one, I don’t have a certain face…there are requirement, [but] I went there [because] the main thing I was pushing was beauty with a purpose, beauty and beauty with brains“, she explained.

Muis soon realised she needed to brand herself. She reached out to a mutual friend who advised on taking this step. “Before Ponds brands you, before Revlon brand you, brand yourself so that they know who they are working with,” Muis advised.

Muis’ win and work with MMM gained a lot of attention and soon talk shows and magazines reached out to her. At the age of 19, Muis featured in Successful Woman Magazine’s “19 Women To Do Business With” spread alongside big names, like global-award winning singer Nhlanhla Nciza and Dr Charlene Makita, a founder of a moringa based hair care line. Local TV talk shows like Soweto TV, CTTV AND Afternoon Express have all had Muis as a guest on their show. Most recently, Muis featured in Her Grit Magazine. Glow Nail, a South African Beauty Brand, choose Muis to be their ambassador in 2018. Currently, Muis is also one of the Friday radio host at UCT radio. Her latest achievement was winning the Global Youth Award for Educational Innovation. All this might seem like a lot to the regular joe, but Muis loves her work and believes it’s her destiny. “Have it all, but in chunks’, she said. “Fast forward to this year.

As a suggestion, Muis applied to be a delegate at a World Health Organisation conference in Thailand this year and plans to return in November. When asked what else she has in store, Muis screamed, “My dreams are so big that sometimes I can’t sleep!” She joked that her parents occasionally suggest she see a doctor because her ambitions over take her.

Ultimately, Muis plans to follow Oprah Winfrey’s footsteps by opening an academy of her own one day. “[I] want to create that domino effect of excellence,” she shared. From a dream a grade 9 pupil had to end bullying at her school to building a brand that motivates girls to find their purpose, Muis says that she can’t stop. “The only thing that settles is dust,” she said.

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