20-year-old Yvette Mukamwiza was recently crowned Miss Career East Africa 2019 taking home Rwf 4.7m ($5,000) after her project impressed the jury.
The crown means Mukamwiza, who is studying Information Technology at Integrated Polytechnic Regional Centre (IPRC) Ngoma, Eastern Province, will represent East Africa on the continental level next year.
Her project which was a Digital blind stick that can help visually impaired persons also won an award.
She spoke to Sunday Magazine’s Eddie Nsabimana on her journey about her plans to use the platform to help people with disabilities.
How was the journey to becoming Miss Career East Africa like?
So tight…from the beginning!
I couldn’t believe how I won this crown. I thought I had lost it in the early stages during the voting sessions where some of my competitors had over 20 000 votes against my 2000 votes.
That time I already lost hope…and things got worse when we were at the boot camp where I met girls who were brilliant in public speaking and with very smart and award-winning projects that can have potential to bring solutions to women and the society in general.
But the day I passed the pre-selections and went through to the finals boosted my confidence. At the finals, I presented my project, with little confidence but I managed to win the Miss Technology crown.
Was it the first pageant you have participated in?
Yes. But Miss Career is quite different from other pageants because beauty does not count at all. What matters most is a rich and impactful project you take to the contest and the public speaking skills you use while presenting it.
Tell us about your project and how it will benefit the community
I and two of my colleagues developed a digital blind stick that a visually impaired person can use to sense any object in his way from 50m that might cause him accident.
The stick can sense every object that is within at least 50m.
With the stick, the visually impaired person can walk on his own without any help because it gives him a signal whenever an object is in his way.
The stick can also help people identify him and help him in case he needs assistance at night.
The stick is also made with a small round wheel to help a visually-impaired person smoothly roll it while walking.
With the stick, you don’t need a guardian because the blind stick can take you where a guardian can take you, unless the user wants to travel far away from his home place.
We believe this blind stick will help visually impaired persons to access public services smoothly.
Was it your first experience in a competition?
Not really. It is not my first time because I also presented my project at the ‘Innovation for Woman’ competition where we also won Rwf 5 million as our project became the overall winner.
How much do you need to successfully implement your project?
If we get a startup capital of between Rwf 15 million and Rwf 20 million, I am confident I can implement my project as planned.
How much will the digital blind stick cost?
The prices could vary between Rwf 30,000 and Rwf 50,000 per blind stick depending on the height as we plan to produce sticks of different measures for kids and adults or short and tall persons.
What is the way forward now after your project wins the prize?
We are now going to start implementing our project right away. We’ve now got a startup capital and we hope it will generate jobs for other youths in the future.
Mukamwiza was crowned Miss Career East Africa 2019 recently. / Photo by IgiheFollow https://twitter.com/@Eddie_250