Cartier Women’s Initiative Recognises Top Social Entrepreneurs

Published by Sheila Loxham, Hoffmann Global Institute for Business and Society on 13 Jun 2019

Through partnership with Cartier, INSEAD raises the profile of women entrepreneurs and supports their successful ventures by providing them with coaching and mentoring.

On 2 May this year, twenty-one amazing entrepreneurial women were celebrated in San Francisco at the Cartier Women’s Initiative. They were all company founders or co-founders chosen largely due to the strong social impact of their companies. The companies and women recognised by partners Cartier and INSEAD are inspirational, creative and dynamic – and they are leading the way to a better future for all.

Many of the businesses embody ‘tech for good’ and they all have the goal of making our world a better place to live. This year’s award-winning products and services range from an online mental health platform connecting psychologists with patients seeking therapy for stress, depression and anxiety in Brazil to an investment platform providing student loans to underserved youth in the Philippines. The women who lead these companies are improving health outcomes, enabling education and helping farmers feed communities.

In industries that include health, finance, agriculture, education and technology, these companies are poised to transform development and growth to be more sustainable and inclusive. Find out more about the 2019 Laureates and their businesses on the Cartier Women’s Initiative website.

INSEAD has been the academic partner to the Cartier Women’s Initiative for 13 years. The twenty-one 2019 Cartier Women’s Initiative finalists were selected by independent regional juries from almost 2,900 applicants from 142 countries which for the first time included Switzerland and Japan. They were chosen from seven regions – Latin America, North America, Europe, Sub Saharan Africa, Middle East & North Africa, East Asia and South Asia & Oceania. Once chosen, the finalists began three months of coaching with volunteer coaches, the majority of whom were INSEAD Alumni or part of the greater INSEAD network.

This year Cartier announced the seven laureates on 2 May at Fort Mason, San Francisco. The theme of the Awards ceremony was ‘Ripple Effect’ referring to how a single transformative idea can change not just a local area or community, but a region, a country, a continent or the world.

During one of the panel discussions at the ceremony, Maria Shriver referred to this when she said to the Cartier finalists and laureates, “We are still in the process of seeing firsts. You women are real life architects of change. The people who challenge what is, imagine what can be, and move humanity forward. For every woman, to realise that when she stands up, opens her mouth, pushes against the status quo – she’s creating the ripple effect. She’s actually creating a tidal wave.”

To see more, you can watch the highlights video of the Cartier Women's Initiative Ceremony and an inspirational short video featuring a few of the finalists. 

To read more, this New York Times article gives an overview of the history of the initiative. This recent Who What Wear article tells the compelling and touching story of the birth of North American finalist Emily Levy’s business. Finally, this Nuvo Magazine article highlights the previous years’ laureates and the initiative’s history.

Our work with the Cartier Women’s Initiative is a year-long undertaking, and we have already started planning our September MBA Deep Dive weekends on both the Asia Campus and Europe Campus. Our MBA students will learn more about impact investment and pre-select and shortlist the 2020 finalists. Following this exercise, Regional Juries select three finalists for each region. Cartier has worked hard to streamline the application process, which is open from 12 June until 14 August, 2019. This year, more than 3,000 applications for the programme are anticipated.

One of the unique aspects of the Cartier Women’s Initiative is the vital role and contribution of the coaches, including our volunteer INSEAD coaches. The finalists benefit greatly from their expertise, guidance and encouragement. The finalists and coaches are carefully matched and will begin working together next January. Every year we are thrilled by the quality and range of the finalists, and we are already looking forward to seeing what 2020 has in store.

Congratulations to all the 2019 Cartier Women’s Initiative laureates and finalists. We look forward to seeing what comes next for you and your ventures.

Category:  Hoffmann Institute

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