As an innovator, what sets you apart from others?
It has to be my passion for my product. I am an advocate for menstrual hygiene and, currently, a doctoral candidate researching Menstrual Hygiene Management on adolescents with intellectual disabilities in South Africa. This study is a first for South Africa. Therefore, my passion stems from not just supplying a healthy, eco-friendly product but also being a voice for menstrual hygiene management.
What drives you to innovate?
Passion and purpose. I believe the world is your oyster. Once you introduce something that becomes successful, one looks for additional avenues in which to innovate.
Undertaking an innovation journey is not easy. How did you overcome challenges associated with being an innovator, especially as a social entrepreneur?
Becoming an entrepreneur has been one of the most challenging but exciting experiences of my life. The journey thus far has been rocky yet extremely humbling at the same time. I can certainly confirm that I have respect for any person who decides to invest in their own venture.
I am a firm believer in balance. There has to be a balance to everything in life in order to function optimally. It is in this light that I have been able to successfully juggle being a single mother while driving my career and business (self-funded). I would be lying if I said that it was easy but it has definitely made me a stronger person. I am also lucky that my children look up to me as their role model and take after me in terms of independence. They are my pillars of strength.
How long did your innovation take from its development to implementation?
The aim of creating the PrincessD Menstrual Cup, an alternative sanitary product to tampons and sanitary pads, was to help disadvantaged rural girls. Their education is disrupted because some girls miss 5 – 7 days per month without the use of a menstrual cup.
The PrincessD Menstrual Cup is an environmentally-friendly, cost-effective, and sustainable solution for these girls and women. We found that because it’s a ‘green’ product, all girls and women who menstruate are able to benefit from it by using a healthy and clean sanitary product. The menstrual cup, which is ultra-soft, is made from medical-grade silicone and reusable for 10 years. It has no toxins, bleaches, dyes, or other chemicals, which makes it hygienic and healthy to use. It is a greener alternative to disposable tampons and pads, as it does not add to landfill. Sanitary pads and tampons are not eco-friendly as it takes approximately 500 – 700 years to biodegrade.
The PrincessD Menstrual Cup has a lot of other benefits as well: it is completely comfortable for using during sports, such as running, cycling, scuba diving, swimming, yoga, dancing, or any type of activity, as it offers safe, secure, discreet, and leak-free protection for up to 12 hours at a time.
One menstrual cup is equivalent to approximately 3 000 sanitary pads/tampons over a 10-year cycle. So, no more messy toilets or blockages in toilets either. Our combo pack comprises of a menstrual cup and a compact, foldable silicone steriliser cup (we are the only supplier with the silicone, microwavable steriliser cup). In the deep rural areas, girls face devastating conditions, where they have nothing to use during menstruation and have limited access to water.
At the end of the menstrual cycle, only 250 ml of boiling water (one cup) is required per month to sterilise the PrincessD Menstrual Cup for 15 minutes! In most rural areas, girls fetch water from the river, boil it, and then sterilise their cups.
In terms of the development, it took me approximately two years, which included R&D, to create a prototype and then introduce it to the market.
How would you motivate other people to be innovative against all odds? Women are strong and can overcome anything. Never give up. I believe that one must always tell their story because it motivates others. We have all fallen and jumped up again, so pick yourself up and be proud to be a woman. Your circumstances do not define your future: rise up and take hold of your destiny. Inspire others to innovate!
Which factors do you think impede innovation in the public sector? Definitely a lack of finance.
What do you think should government do to promote innovation in the
Government is trying to assist and promote innovation. We need to be more visible, as small businesses cannot afford extensive marketing due to the exorbitant costs of marketing. Instead of always trying to assist small businesses in funding, which is, of course, limited to a number of small businesses, help us promote our businesses, such as having link with our logos on government websites.
Kindly share with us some of your awards and accolades that you have received over the years
|2016||Semi-finalist: Emerging Entrepreneur Category: SA Council for Business Competition|
|2016||Panache Woman of Wonder Awards|
|2016||Finalist: Unsung Heroine category: Real Architects of Society Special Award|
|2016||Finalist: Margaret Hirsch Achiever of the Year Award|
|2017||Nominee: Standard bank Top Women Entrepreneur Awards|
|2017||Finalist: Social Entrepreneur Category: Business Women Association Awards|
|2017||Winner: OWAMI Women’s Award|
|2017||Finalist: Top Performing Entrepreneur: National Business Awards|
|2017||Global Awardee: Centre for economic & Leadership Development|
|2017||Global Female Leadership Impact Award|
|2017||Global Women Leaders Hall of Fame|
|2018||Woman of Stature Awards: Entrepreneur of the Year|
|2018||Global Awardee: Iconic Woman Creating a better World for All Women Economic Forum|
|2018||Finalist: Entrepreneur of the Year: Oliver Empowerment Awards|
|2018||Impact Award: Ladies of All nations International|
|2018||Finalist: National Business Awards|
|2018||Change Maker Award|
|2019||Winner: Manager of the Year: Business Leadership South Africa|
|2019||Country Winner: Most Influential Woman in Business: Pan African Awards|
|2020||Honorary Award: Women Appreciating Women|
|2020||Awardee: 100 Successful Women|
I would like to share with your readers some of my quotes.
“Nobody will ever realise your struggle until you disclose your story. Be the one to comfort others by talking about your hardships and where you come from. It will surely inspire others and create awareness that there are opportunities out there that they can grab and steer their own ship to success. Never ever give up”
“Your message to the world must be words of encouragement, motivation and inspiration. If you live it share it.