In 2006, we launched the Cartier Women’s Initiative as part of the Women’s Forum for the Economy and Society. Back then, we had no idea where that journey might take us.
Fifteen years on, the Cartier Women’s Initiative has recognized and supported 262 women across the globe who are tackling an extraordinary range of challenges. The community spans 62 countries and includes sectors as diverse as pharmaceuticals, e-learning, and agriculture. These women entrepreneurs have embraced a bold mindset to grow their businesses. Many successfully pivoted during the pandemic and emerged stronger than ever.
We are proud of the women impact entrepreneurs whose actions are rippling around the world. We are confident that with their vision, passion, and drive, and a worldwide network of allies, what lies ahead is nothing less than a global wave of positive change.
The report was based on a 40-question online survey that we fielded to our former fellows between March 15 and April 19, 2021
The profile of our fellows has evolved. We are now looking to support businesses that are fully operational and generate revenue, but have not yet accessed institutional funding or broken even. In the 2017−2020 editions, more than 80% of fellows ran revenue-generating businesses and 67% of their businesses employed more than five staff members.
The Cartier Women's Initiative has contributed to fellows' personal and professional development, especially in later editions.
• Respondents overwhelmingly reported that the program boosted their self-confidence (90%) and gave them a sense of belonging (90%).
• A large majority reported that the program helped expand their network (88%) and develop their business skills.
The program supported the development and growth of fellows' businesses.
• Fellows most frequently cited improvements in visibility (78%) and business strategy (66%) as outcomes of the fellowship program.
• The Cartier Women’s Initiative’s financial contributions to fellows' businesses were most frequently used for operational expenses (67%) and product development (50%).
Ninety percent of surveyed businesses were still in operation in 2020 and nearly 60% reported receiving pandemic-related grant support in 2020.
• Average earnings were slightly less than $500,000 and average net profit was slightly more than $26,000 in 2020.
• Thirty percent of businesses reached more than 10,000 users in 2020.
Ninety-nine percent of respondents reported contributing to at least one of the UN SDGs. Collectively, they contribute to all 17 SDGs.
• The top SDGs fellows' businesses contribute to are SDG 3 (Good Health and Well-being) and SDG 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth).
• Forty-nine percent of respondents report making an impact at the country level and 25% at the global level.
Fifty-three percent of respondents report providing a product or service that is new to the world and 25% offer a product or service that is new in their country.
Becoming a fellow elevated MitiMeth from a little-known enterprise doing interesting stuff with water hyacinth to a social enterprise with a global platform. I began training communities affected by the infestation of water hyacinth on how to convert the weed into value-added products. We started with fewer than 15 home-based artisans. Now over 150 supply us with products created from this environmental menace.
Read the stories of our fellows highlighted in the report
As many as half of Kenya’s citizens have no access to registered healthcare centers. Melissa has worked to remedy this since 2012, when she opened the first Access Afya clinic to offer affordable healthcare to underserved Kenyan communities. After a recent pivot to franchising, Access Afya aims to bring its quality-assured health clinics and pharmacies to more communities inside and beyond Kenya, improving health outcomes for hundreds of thousands of people across Africa.
Planet Protector Packaging
Since 2015, when Joanne started Planet Protector Packaging, its mission to eliminate ocean-destroying polystyrene has become more urgent. As people sheltered at home during the pandemic, demand swelled for insulated shipping material. Woolpack, the company’s environmentally friendly polystyrene alternative, turns discarded wool into a sustainable insulation material, replacing millions of polystyrene boxes.
In Mozambique, bicycles are far more than transportation. They are as integral to life and the economy as cars are in other countries and a lifeline for millions of rural Mozambicans. Lauren co-founded Mozambikes with the innovative idea of offering corporations a way to bring their brands to rural areas via advertising opportunities on bicycles. Since 2010, the company has put 30,000 bikes on the road across Mozambique.
During her 23 years as a biology teacher, Siroun participated in the transformation of teaching materials from paper-based worksheets to sophisticated digital resources. She noticed one set of educators was left out of this evolution: Arabic teachers. Siroun started the online platform Kamkalima to provide these teachers and their students the same access to modern technology and up-to-date materials enjoyed by other disciplines.
How we envision the future of the Cartier Women's Initiative
Based on these insights and our research collaborations, we intend to grow our initiative and continuously enhance the tailored support we provide to the fellows. To mark our fifteenth anniversary, we are organizing a world reunion for our global community at Expo 2020 Dubai to celebrate the progress our community has made and shape the initiative’s future. We are committed to the idea of collaboration capital—working with other organizations and individuals to maximize the ripple effect of entrepreneurship as a force for good.
We are constantly looking for ways to extend opportunities to more women impact entrepreneurs worldwide. In 2023, the Cartier Women’s Initiative will offer 13 awards categories and extend support to 39 impact entrepreneurs globally.
A sisterhood of women who come together to provide support not only helps a woman in need, our collective actions can raise the potential for all women. When we go together, boosting each other along the way, our work is accelerated, and our impact magnified.