Ms Mpule Kwelagobe is the founder and CEO of the MPULE Institute for Endogenous Development, a New York City-based, Africa-focused advocacy and public policy think tank that engages globally with thought-leaders on inclusive economic growth and sustainable development. As CEO, Mpule spearheads research on polyethnic diversity, polycentric institutions and polycultural food systems in Africa. From 1999 to 2011, Mpule served as President and CEO of the MPULE Foundation, a US$100 Million fund she established in 1999 to address the HIV/AIDS crisis in Sub-Saharan Africa by improving health systems. The MPULE Foundation was officially launched by Nelson Mandela in November 2000. In 2001, the Foundation was awarded the Human Health Rights Award by the International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care.
She was selected by the World Economic Forum as a Global Leader for Tomorrow in 2003 and as a Young Global Leader in 2006; she received the Global Lion Leadership Award from the Lions Club International in 2001.
In 1999, at the tender age of 19, Mpule Kwelagobe became the first delegate to represent Botswana at the Miss Universe pageant—and she won—making history as the first African woman to be crowned Miss Universe! She was awarded the Freedom of the City Key to Gaborone – the capital of Botswana; appointed patron of the Mpule Kwelagobe Children’s Center – a Center of Excellence for Children established by the Government of Botswana and De Beers; and Botswana Post issued 5 postage stamps in her honor.
In 2000, Kwelagobe was appointed as the United Nations Goodwill Ambassador for Youth and HIV/AIDS. She testified before the United States Congress, and addressed the UN General Assembly, World Summit on Sustainable Development, UN Least Developed Countries conference, the Congressional Black Caucus, World Food Prize, African Leadership Forum and Commonwealth Youth Ministers Summit. Mpule has appeared on CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox, and on the cover of numerous global publications.
She holds a degree in International Political Economy from Columbia University. She sits on the board of the Agriculture and Food Security Center at Columbia University, and is a member of the Africa Policy Advisory Board for the ONE Campaign. In 2014, she hosted and produced the documentary “The Story of African Agriculture”, which was launched in Abu Dhabi, UAE. during the Declaration of Global Food Security forum.