South African entrepreneur and pioneer within the specialist PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) industry, Refilwe Sebothoma, has announced she will take an executive and advisory role within several businesses in which she has an interest. Sebothoma will use her praised business acumen, notable experience and track record in business development, to help build thriving, sustainable businesses that empower individuals and their communities.
From building a successful business from the ground up early in her career, buying into businesses within the PPE value chain, forming crucial relationships with key industry stakeholders, and becoming a brand with integrity, Sebothoma sees her biggest win as the opportunity to impact the lives of people. “Seeing people’s careers grow through promotions, moving from shacks and building houses, furthering their studies, and getting master’s degrees, is both heart-warming and hugely gratifying,” she explains.
Taking the next steps into a new chapter in her career, Sebothoma will continue contributing, building, and impacting people in an executive and advisory capacity. “To impact and empower the lives of ordinary people through my work is where I’m most looking forward to concentrating my efforts. When individuals are empowered and self-sufficient, they can go back to their communities and replicate that impact. I want to pay it forward through mentorship and coaching so that upcoming entrepreneurs can learn from my mistakes and build better businesses, faster.”
Sebothoma’s entrepreneurial background has given her a solid foundation and insight into business strategy and building a compelling value proposition. “As Maria Montessori said, ‘only practical work and experience lead the young to maturity’. I have indeed put in the work and have built great attributes and strengths in the process, business development strategy being at the core of it, with the ability to impact, develop and build functional and independent teams which can sustain a vision is what drives me.”
“Integrity and building great relationships are the new currency for businesses which are serious about sustainability and longevity,” she adds. Sebothoma believes this ethos is particularly relevant for young women looking to make strategic inroads into traditionally male-dominated sectors of the economy. “While many industries have reported growth in women entering these fields, the growth is slow. My concern is that women are still not occupying the highest levels of management or having a share of ownership in critical value chains, which means there is much more work to be done. Having said that, I want to recognise and appreciate the men in leadership positions who have been very intentional about encouraging and supporting women at all levels.”
In addition to surrounding yourself with wisdom and support through mentors and coaches, Sebothoma encourages young women entrepreneurs not to forgo leading with love, care, compassion, and respect. “As women, we have a call to keep investing in our own personal development because we can never be anything to anyone which we are not to ourselves, stretching ourselves out of our comfort zones and doing the work that matters for us. There is an opportunity for women to be deliberate about not just talking, but walking the talk, and supporting each other to build strong businesses which can offer great value to different industries.”
In December 2022, Sebothoma was awarded the Inspired Visionary Award as well as the Leadership Excellence Award by Shell and GROW IMPACT for vividly mapping and executing on a winning aspiration for her business and for being a business leader that is on track to leading independent, profitable and enduring businesses. In a challenging economic environment, she has been able to realise annual revenue growth of 15,5% across the suite of businesses in the group delivering a staggering 8% in margin.
Refilwe Sebothoma – South African entrepreneur and pioneer within the specialist PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) industry