Noëlla Coursaris Musunka
international fashion model & philanthropist
Philanthropy (education & health)
Equality and diversity
Women in business
Finding motivation through your passion
Noëlla Coursaris Musunka is an international fashion model and philanthropist.
She was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) 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 and Belgium. After a 13-year absence, she returned to her homeland to meet her mother. Upon witnessing first hand the poverty and lack of opportunity for women in the DRC, Noëlla promised herself that she would one day make a difference.
After receiving a degree in business management, Noëlla was chosen to appear in a campaign for Agent Provocateur. Modelling took her to the global stage via the pages of fashion magazines such as Vogue and Vanity Fair. As she travelled the world, she was able to use her work as a platform from which to share her passion for human rights.
In 2007, Noëlla founded Malaika, a nonprofit grassroots organisation that empowers Congolese girls and their communities through education and health programmes.
She has since become one of the most sought-after speakers on the subject of girls’ education. She has spoken to countless audiences from UNICEF and the UK Parliament to TED and the World Economic Forum. She has also appeared several times alongside President Clinton on Clinton Global Initiative panels.
Noëlla's work has been featured in global news outlets such as CNN and the BBC. She has been named one of ELLE’s incredible women shaping Africa and one of Lifestyles’ most powerful women in philanthropy.
In 2017, Noëlla was named an Ambassador of The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Alongside other Ambassadors such as Bono, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Charlize Theron, she uses the platform to raise awareness of the need for investment in health and education.
Noëlla's example shows that finding your passion can drive you to achieve things you didn't think were possible.
Her story is one of facing and overcoming challenges - growing up away from home, succeeding in the fashion industry and building Malaika - all driven by the desire to make a positive difference.
Her story has inspired audiences around the world, from global personalities and policy-makers to top executives of leading multinational firms.