Noëlla was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo to a Cypriot father and a Congolese mother. Following the passing of her father at the age of 5, and with her mother lacking the resources to look after her, Noëlla was sent to live with relatives in Switzerland. After a 13-year absence, Noëlla decided to return to her homeland of the DRC and to meet her mother. After witnessing firsthand the poverty and lack of opportunity for women in the country, Noëlla promised herself that she would one day make a difference. After receiving a degree in business management, Noëlla was discovered and chosen to appear in a campaign for Agent Provocateur. Modeling took Noëlla from the pages of fashion magazines like Vogue and Vanity Fair to a global stage. As she travelled the world, she discovered a platform from which to share her passion for human rights.
In 2007, Noëlla founded Malaika, a nonprofit grassroots organization that empowers Congolese girls and their communities through education and health programs. Malaika’s projects are impacting thousands of people’s lives and are all offered completely free of charge. Noëlla works tirelessly to cultivate the power of education and has reached out beyond the village of Kalebuka to the nation of the DRC and the continent of Africa in order to engage with surrounding communities and invite them to be a part of her education revolution.
Noëlla's efforts have made her one of the most sought-after speakers on the subject of girls’ education. An advocate for peace, she has spoken to countless audiences as far-ranging as UNICEF and the UK Parliament and has appeared several times alongside President Clinton on Clinton Global Initiative panels. Noëlla has been interviewed about her philanthropic work on global news outlets such as CNN and the BBC, has given a TED talk and presented in front of top executives from multinationals like SAP and T-Systems. Noëlla has been named one of ELLE’s incredible women shaping Africa and one of Lifestyles’ most powerful women in philanthropy.
Alongside being a mother to two young children, Noëlla continues to work as a model but now her passion is to model with meaning, using her profile to raise awareness for causes she believes in as a mother, a feminist and a believer in the intrinsic human right to education, health and opportunity.
Model and Influencer
Noëlla began modeling when she won an Agent Provocateur competition and subsequently became the “face” of the famous lingerie brand. Over the course of her career, Noëlla has worked in New York and London and gained an international following. She has appeared in many fashion magazines, including Vogue, Elle, Vanity Fair and Marie Claire.
- The Incredibles: 50 Women Shaping Africa (2016), ELLE magazine
- 100 Innovators Shaping the Continent (2015), TRUE Africa
- International Advocate of Youth (2014), African Society of Cambridge University
- The Most Influential Africans (2014), New African magazine
- GOOD Award (2013), Diamond Empowerment Fund
- International Humanitarian of the Year (2013), the Women4africa Awards
- Women Helping Women Award (2010), Voss Foundation
- CNN features Noella, Eve and Malaika on "African Voices"
- Canal Plus (2016)
- International Business Times UK (2016)
- One World with Deepak Chopra (2015)
- BloombergTV: Africa Trending (2015)
- BBC: Focus on Africa (2013)
- Fox 5: My Fox NY (2013)
- CNN: Edit Room (2011)
- CNN: African Voices (2010)
- CNN: Connect the World (2010)
- Oxford University lecture to the International Relations Society (2016)
- Clinton Global Initiative's Opening & Closing Plenaries (2015), alongside President Clinton
- TEDx talk in Paris (2014), organized by Society Generale
- UN panel on Investing in Women and Entrepreneurship (2011)
- UNICEF panel on Girl Power and Potential (2009)
- Global Creative Leadership Summit (2009)
- Kinshasa Parliament (2008)
- Co-host of the 2012 Miss Vodacom competition television show, where she also mentored the contestants.
- Cinema for Peace LA 2013: Ben Affleck was honored for the work of his foundation, the Eastern Congo Initiative.
- Cinema for Peace NY 2012: Sting and Trudie Styler were honored for their continued work on behalf of the Amazon rainforest.
- Africa Fashion Week London 2015
- Africa Fashion Week London 2014