Back in 2006 when the world’s economy was booming and everyone was still coming to terms with the Brad Pitt and Jennifer split, the Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards was founded. It is the brainchild of the Women’s Forum, INSEAD graduate school and Mckinsey & Company which annually recognizes female entrepreneurship globally. They achieve this uphill task by hosting an international business-plan competition, eventually rewarding six Laureates. Once chosen these Laureates are awarded with funding, sharing, coaching, fostering and networking throughout the globe. Most start-ups come to life with a bank being the main source of funding via a loan which is secured by property of some sort. However according to UNDP, 75% of the world’s women cannot get bank loans because they have unpaid jobs and are not entitled to property ownership. The Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards was created to fill this huge gap.
The eligibility criterion is plain and simple, for a project to be considered it must be:
- An original for-profit business creation
- In the start-up phase: between one and three years of operation
- The main leadership position must be filled by a woman
Once entrepreneurs have submitted their short business plans online the selection of the winners will be in two stages. First the judges will choose 18 participants from the 3 best projects from each region which will then move to the finals. Here these finalists will compete in France with their detailed business plans and oral presentations for the judges where the judges will pick a winner from each region. Last year the Laureate from Sub-Sahara was none other than Achenyo Idachaba (on the left) from Nigeria, a professional in the field of computer science and business. She created a business that utilized aquatic weeds that had for centuries plagued Nigeria’s waterways.
Not only does the Cartier Women’s Initiative give women a voice but it allows them to imagine the possible. It pushes them to think outside the box. It inspires them to turn their dreams into a reality. More than anything it reassures women all over the world that they are not alone in their struggles and troubles. As part of the experience women get to meet and trade stories which undoubtedly leads to bonds that will stand the test of time. For me, I think this is one of the most important elements of the whole program. The Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards is looking for committed female entrepreneurs with the potential to grow significantly in the years to come. To apply for the 2015 edition fill out the application form by clicking here