Anita Uwagbale: Celebrating Resilience, Evolution Two Decades after MBGN Win

It’s been two decades since Anita Uwagbale won the Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria (MBGN) pageant, a milestone opportunity that reflects her resilience and evolution which is a testament to the power of hard work, determination, and perseverance that serves as an inspiration to young people who aspire to make meaningful impact in their communities. She shares with MARY NNAH her achievements, remarkable journey and the positive influence she has had on those around her Anita Queen Uwagbale, a name synonymous with beauty and business acumen, is a testament to the enduring allure and versatility of a true queen.

Uwagbale’s journey from a beauty queen to a successful entrepreneur and philanthropist highlights the importance of perseverance and adaptability in achieving one’s goals.  

Born in Edo and raised in Lagos, Uwagbal’s journey to stardom began at Madonna University, Port Harcourt, where she studied Accountancy. Her life took a glamorous turn in 2004 when she was crowned the Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria (MBGN), a title that catapulted her into the limelight and set her on a path of remarkable achievements.

As MBGN, Uwagbal, a graduate of the University of Phoenix represented Nigeria on global stages, including Miss Universe and Miss World. Her stunning performance at Miss World 2004 saw her place among the top 15 semi-finalists and being named the African Continental Queen of Beauty. Her reign was not just about beauty; she used her platform to advocate for environmental pollution awareness, demonstrating her commitment to societal issues. Beyond the crown, Uwagbale’s life has been a rollercoaster of highs and lows. She married businessman Tom Iseghohi in 2008, and together they welcomed three children.

However, after a decade of marriage, the couple parted ways. Despite the personal challenges, Anita’s entrepreneurial spirit never wavered.

“20 years of MBGN! It is amazing how time flies. Saying 20 years sounds like it has been ages but it is just 20 years ago. I still feel like the same person. The 20 years have been amazing. I have been married. Had kids and got divorced. I did business. Life has just happened but 20 years feels like just the other year. It feels like yesterday and we thank God for everything”, she noted.


Beyond Beauty: Anita’s Entrepreneurial Spirit 

Anita’s foray into the business world was driven by a keen sense of opportunity and a desire to address a gap in the market.

“The Baby Store was born out of my struggle to find quality baby products in Nigeria. This venture was not just a business move; it was a solution to a widespread challenge faced by many Nigerian parents”, Uwagbale noted.

Her entrepreneurial journey did not stop there. With a vision to diversify, Uwagbale launched a printing company and an exclusive luxury hamper company, showcasing her ability to identify and capitalize on varied business opportunities.

Speaking further he said, “I am an entrepreneur and over the years I have been able to launch several businesses that I still run to date. I have a printing company. I also run an exclusive luxury hamper company.  My Baby store which we opened in 2011 is relaunching soon.”

“I am also a Nutritionist, a weight loss coach to be precise. I enjoy that part of my life because for me talking about nutrition and weight loss is beyond the now. It is a lifestyle, which I have pretty much tried my best to maintain”, she added.  

Navigating Challenges: The Evolution of The Baby Store 

Uwagbale’s business acumen was truly tested with The Baby Store. “Operating a physical store in Victoria Island came with its own set of challenges, from exorbitant service charges to logistical issues”, she recalled.

Instead of succumbing to these obstacles, Uwagbale who doubles as a weight loss coach embraced the digital revolution. She transitioned her business online, leveraging platforms like Jumia and Konga to reach a wider audience. This strategic pivot not only sustained the business but also allowed it to thrive in a rapidly changing retail landscape.

The relaunch of The Baby Store marks a new chapter in her entrepreneurial journey. With a focus on educational toys, the store aims to cater to the holistic development of children, blending fun with learning. This shift reflects Anita’s deep understanding of her customers’ evolving needs and her commitment to providing value beyond just products.

A Role Model for Aspiring Entrepreneurs

Uwagbale’s journey is a powerful reminder that success is not a destination but a continuous journey of growth and adaptation. She stands as a role model for aspiring entrepreneurs, especially women, demonstrating that with resilience, innovation, and a clear vision, it is possible to overcome challenges and achieve lasting success. 

Speaking about her modelling journey she said, “ Growing up as an only daughter with five brothers, I have always been that girl that when people see me, they called me a model and all kind of names and when Agbani Darego won the Miss World pageant,  I became “Agbani Darego” and when people see me they will scream, Agbani! Because I was slim and quite tall. So my family was used to it. People keep telling me I should go for Miss World and all that. And I have always known that was something I wanted to do. When I was in secondary school and boarding school, I used to tell my juniors not to put water under my bunk because I was going to be their next Miss Nigeria. I didn’t even know what was entailed then but I just knew I was going to be their next Miss Nigeria. So, it was something that everyone in my household and around me got used to but I wasn’t allowed to go into the pageant while in secondary school my parents had agreed that if I got into the university, I could do it. So I went into pageantry during my first year in university.“

As she celebrates the 20th anniversary of her MBGN title, her legacy extends far beyond her beauty queen days. She has proven that true beauty lies in the courage to pursue one’s dreams, the resilience to weather life’s storms, and the innovative spirit to continually reinvent oneself. Her story is a testament to the fact that with determination and a willingness to evolve, one can not only stay relevant but also make a significant impact in the world.

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