Mpule Kwelagobe

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Mpule Kwelagobe
Mpule Kwelagobe.jpg
Mpule Kwelagobe in 2013 discussing her MPULE Institute for Endogenous Development addressing HIV/AIDS, food security and the feminization of poverty in Africa.
Born Mpule Keneilwe Kwelagobe
(1979-11-14) November 14, 1979 (age 37)
Gaborone, Botswana
Height 1.78 m (5 ft 10 in)
Title Miss Botswana 1997
Miss Universe Botswana 1999
Miss Universe 1999
Beauty pageant titleholder
Hair color Black
Eye color Brown
Miss Botswana 1997
Miss World 1997
Miss Universe Botswana 1999
Miss Universe 1999

Mpule Keneilwe Kwelagobe (born November 14, 1979) is a Botswana investor, politician, businesswoman, model, and beauty queen who was crowned Miss Universe 1999. She was the first black Africa woman to ever win an international beauty pageant title. Since being crowned Miss Universe 1999, Kwelagobe has been recognized and honored as a human health rights activist, especially for her fight against HIV/AIDS and advocacy for youth and women to have greater access to sexual reproductive education and services. She is the co-founder of QuesS Capital LLC, a private equity firm with investments in financial services, renewable energy and agriculture in Africa and South Asia.

Miss Botswana[edit]

In August 1997, Kwelagobe became the youngest woman to be crowned Miss Botswana at the age of 17 years. She was still a high school student at Lobatse Secondary School. Kwelagobe represented her country in the Miss World pageant (in 1997) in Mahe, Seychelles but did not place. In February 1999, she won the inaugural Miss Universe Botswana, becoming the first woman to be crowned Miss Botswana twice. She was the first Miss Universe Botswana and the first Miss Botswana to participate in the Miss Universe pageant.[citation needed]

Miss Universe[edit]

Kwelagobe arrived in Port of Spain on May 5th 1999 for the Miss Universe 1999 pageant, which was held on May 26th 199 in Chaguaramas Convention Center, Trinidad & Tobago. She beat 84 other delegates to win the Miss Universe pageant, Kwelagobe became the first Miss Universe to come from a debuting nation since 1958. She arrived in her new home of New York City 2 days after being crowned Miss Universe. For the duration of her reign she lived in Trump Place and worked in Trump Tower as Donald J. Trump was the owned of the Miss Universe pageant in partnership with CBS.[citation needed]

Following her reign as Miss Universe, Kwelagobe became a spokes model for Clairol. The two page ads first appeared in magazines in the U.S. while Kwelagobe was Miss Universe. In 2002, she became the first Miss Universe to enter an Ivy League university following her reign.[citation needed]

Goodwill ambassador[edit]

In 2000, Kwelagobe was appointed as a Goodwill Ambassador by the United Nations, focusing on youth and HIV/AIDS. Among others, she has addressed the World Summit on Sustainable Development, the Least Developed Countries conference, the World Youth Summit and the United States Congress (the United States House of Representatives Committee on Banking and Financial Services). Kwelagobe testified on the socioeconomic impact of AIDS in Africa and proposed a bill to set up a World Bank AIDS prevention trust fund.[citation needed]


Kwelagobe was honored with the Jonathan Mann Health Human Rights Award by the International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care (IAPAC). She was honored alongside the principal administrator of the European Commission HIV programme, Lieve Fransen, and former American President Bill Clinton. In 2003, she was selected as a Global Leader for Tomorrow (GLT) by the World Economic Forum, joining nearly 500 individuals from business, politics, public interest groups, the media, and the arts and the sciences, including Bill Gates, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Michael Dell and Bono, who have been selected since the programme’s inception in 1993.[citation needed]

In 2006, she was again selected by the World Economic Forum as a Young Global Leader (YGL). The Forum of Young Global Leaders is a newly formed, unique, multi-stakeholder community of the world’s most extraordinary leaders who are 40 years old or younger and who are ready to dedicate their time and energy to jointly work towards a better future.[citation needed]

Other activism[edit]

In 2015, she signed an open letter which the ONE Campaign had been collecting signatures for; the letter was addressed to Angela Merkel and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, urging them to focus on women as they serve as the head of the G7 in Germany and the AU in South Africa respectively, which will start to set the priorities in development funding before a main UN summit in September 2015 that will establish new development goals for the generation.[1]


Kwelagobe holds a degree in Political Science (international political economy) from Columbia University in New York City. She sits on the board of the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences, a pan-African network of Centers of Excellence in mathematical sciences founded by 2008 TED Prize winner and quantum physicist, Professor Neil Turok.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Tracy McVeigh. "Poverty is sexist: leading women sign up for global equality | Life and style". The Guardian. Retrieved 2015-05-08. 

External links[edit]

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Trinidad and Tobago Wendy Fitzwilliam
Miss Universe
Succeeded by
India Lara Dutta
Preceded by
First Edition
Miss Universe Botswana
Succeeded by
Joyce Molemoeng