Earlier this month, seven female laureates were presented the prestigious 2019 Cartier Women’s Initiative Award in a grand ceremony worthy of the momentous occasion. Each of these remarkable women were chosen from a list of 21 exceptional finalists, selected for the significant role they have played in improving the lives of people around the world.
The Cartier Women’s Initiative is an annual international business competition to identify, support and encourage projects by female entrepreneurs. It was set up in 2006 as a joint collaboration by three powerful brands — Cartier, McKinsey & Company and INSEAD Business School — and is open to all women-run, for-profit businesses in any country and sector (education, environment, healthcare and more) working to create a strong social impact.
“As leaders and entrepreneurs who are driving change with creative business models, the laureates and finalists of the Cartier Women’s Initiative are contributing to solutions that address some of the world’s greatest challenges,” said Ilian Mihov, INSEAD dean and professor of economics.
The achievements of these businesswomen gain even more ground if one considers that around 2,900 applicants had applied for the award, coming from more than 142 countries (including Japan and Switzerland for the first time) and seven regions: Latin America, North America, Europe, Sub-Saharan Africa, Middle East and North Africa, East Asia and South Asia & Oceania.
All seven winners were awarded SG$1,36,225 each, while the remaining 14 finalists received SG$40,870 — all 21 of them are also guaranteed a coveted place in INSEAD’s executive programme. And, while there is no doubting the worth of the prize money, it is, perhaps, in the enviable networking opportunities and the avenues it opens that the true value of this award lies.
Speaking at the event, Cyrille Vigneron, CEO of Cartier International, said: “By showing us at which point the world is diverse, this community of conquerors inspires us to go even further in supporting them to make their dreams true and make our world better.”
Catalysts For Change
After a two-year spell in Singapore, the CWIA hosted their 2019 edition in San Francisco at the very scenic setting of the Fort Mason Centre for Arts & Culture. And in a wonderful representation of the initiative’s goals, the evening’s theme — the Ripple Effect — paid homage to those serving as catalysts for change and growth within their communities and the broader society.
The ceremony featured a specially curated TED session that included a series of live talks by microbiologist Karen Lloyd, urban landscape architect Kotchakorn Voraakhom, rural social worker and founder of Bodhi Tree Foundation Ashweetha Shetty and the artistic duo, Climbing PoeTree. This was followed by two panel discussions — reputed journalist Maria Shriver and Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o, among others, were a part of these hugely inspirational sessions on women empowerment and finding success in the face of adversity.