Sherie de Wet is an entrepreneurial self-starter with a passion for making a difference and uplifting women and young girls. Sherie is a widely respected visionary, entrepreneur, and agent of change who plays an instrumental role in transforming, mentoring and creating an impact.
As the CEO of Palesa Pads, she has created high-quality, comfortable and affordable sanitary pads that are reusable for up to five years. She has created jobs, produced over 100 000 pads and continues to help underprivileged young girls.
Her vision is to empower young girls and women in every step of the supply chain, to drive the acceleration of women leaders in positions of power and influence and to co-create a culture of leadership that is inclusive and drives meaningful participation of women in the development of thriving communities.
Let’s get to know Sherie a little better!
How did Palesa Pads come into existence – and how has it impacted your life?
While working in Corporate Finance and IT, I had the opportunity to travel around Africa and during that time I became increasingly aware of the poverty that people were living in. I also discovered that many girls in South Africa and the rest of Africa cannot afford sanitary pads on a monthly basis and are missing out on school as a result. When I learned what they were using as alternatives at home, I was truly shocked and set my mind to solving this problem, once and for all. Women Empowerment has always been close to my heart but being involved with girls and women from all walks of life through Palesa Pads has opened my eyes even further to the level of empowerment required for true gender equality to ever be a reality.
It has been an amazing journey and I love every aspect of my job, from seeing the personal growth in each of my team members to seeing the amazing impact our product has on the lives of women. It is a privilege to do what I do and I thank God for giving me this incredible opportunity.
If you had a theme song, what would it be?
What is the biggest risk you’ve ever taken?
Leaving my job to work full time in Palesa Pads when I wasn’t sure when I would see another salary. That was in March 2018 but I don’t regret it for a moment.
If Mars were liveable, would you accept a one way ticket there?
Nope. I am very happy here on Earth; I love the animals and the plants and the nature wonders that Earth has to offer
If you were given one thousand acres of land what would you do with it?
Build my dream which is the Palesa Eco Village. A self-sustaining commune where women can live and work and grow their own food to become completely self-sufficient.
Are you more of a hunter or a gatherer?
How many pairs of shoes do you own?
23 but I only wear about half of them
If we came to your house for dinner, what would you prepare for us?
Lamb curry, it’s my speciality dish
How would people communicate in a perfect world?
By seeking first to understand rather than being understood. By accepting that just because someone thinks differently to you does not mean they’re wrong. By taking the time to see things from the other person’s perspective and not just your own.
When you have 30 minutes of free time – how do you pass it?
I phone a friend and catch up
If you woke up to 300 unread emails, how would you prioritise which ones to answer?
The ones that are likely to bring in money for the business or will put the business at risk if I don’t answer them.
Where do you go and what do you do to find peace and recharge?
I enjoy spending time in my garden or at a park. Being outside in the fresh air with my dogs feels like a holiday; I feel completely refreshed after a day spent in nature.
If you could write one new law that everybody had to obey, what would it be?
That unions would have to pay their members their full salaries while they’re on strike and pay for all the damages caused during their strikes. I do believe that that would bring a swift end to the devastating strike and union culture that has developed in South Africa and is destroying our economy.
What, if anything, have you ever re-gifted?
A few photo frames, ornaments, and chocolates, plus a few gift vouchers, when I didn’t have cash to buy the person a gift. If I have a choice though, I take the time to pick something they would really like otherwise they get what I have lying around the house. I’m not a fan of gift giving in general, it puts everyone under too much pressure, I prefer quality time with people.
What is the most interesting thing you have seen or read this week?
A deeper look into the discussion around developing safe vaccines, fascinating.
What skill or craft would you like to master?
What would you say are some small steps that people can take to improve their relationship to the environment?
Start by being aware of all the packaging and single use products that you buy. Look for packaging free or reusable alternatives so that over time you create less waste and the waste that you do create is recyclable or biodegradable. And for heaven’s sake, when you see litter don’t walk past it, pick it up and throw it in the dustbin!