Cover The 2021 laureates of Cartier Women's Initiative

These eight female leaders are changing the world in their own unique ways

For 15 years, Cartier has been supporting women via the Cartier Women's Initiative entrepreneurship programme. Its aim? To empower female business leaders and owners who are making a sustainable social and/or environmental impact to make an even greater impact in their respective fields. This year's theme is Ripple Effect, and it explores how these changemakers can sustain the momentum of their work to pave the path for future generations.

See also: Tatler's Asia's Most Influential: The Impact List

Cartier received 876 applicants from over 142 countries for this edition. Each year, Cartier Women's Initiative will choose 24 new fellows to join its community, out of which 8 laureates will be chosen. The laureates receive US$100,000 in prize money; the rest receive US$30,000. All eight laureates and 16 finalists, however, will benefit from a tailored one-on-one training, workshops, as well as the opportunity to join INSEAD Business School impact entrepreneurship programme.

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Let's meet the eight laureates of 2021.

It has long been our belief that to thrive, (women) need an enabling environment, a supportive ecosystem and an empowering culture. We look to the future with confidence by their side, as we witness them building up a tide of change, thus making the world a better place for generations to come.

- Cyrille Vigneron, President and CEO of Cartier International


Rebecca Hui, founder & CEO of Roots Studio (USA)

Hui works with rural communities around the world to digitise their cultural heritage into intellectual property for licensing. The former Fulbright student was concerned how cultural appropriation are creating a big loss for the talented artists from the these communities. To empower them, she started Roots Studio to bridge cultures and reverse cultural loss and appropriation.

See also: 4 Malaysian Female Artists To Watch

Valentina Rogacheva, founder of Verqo (Mexico)

Verqo was established in 2018 to aid small farmers in Mexico who have difficulty getting access to financial support by offering them cashless credit i.e. tools and supplies that they need on their farms.

“It's a very easy process. It’s completely digital. Farmers can enter the platform, make the request for financing, and then choose everything they want to buy for their fields," says Rogacheva, who hails from Russia.

Andrea Barber, co-founder & CEO of RatedPower (Spain)

Through RatedPower, Barber aims to "digitise the renewable energy industry and maximise clean energy’s potential with a software as a service product that discovers the smartest ways to design solar energy plants and automates their engineering."

See also: This Tenacious Entrepreneur Foresees A Bright Future For Malaysia With Solar Energy

Seynabou Dieng, founder & CEO of Maya (Mali)

Dieng was shocked to learn that Mali doesn't have a thriving food industry despite a large swathe of the population depending on agriculture. Through Maya, she aims to change this by working with farmers to create local food products.

"We bring the spices, grains, and vegetables into our processing unit and turn them into products like breadcrumbs, chilis, sauces, salad dressings, and pancake mixes," she elaborates.

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Basima Abdulrahman, founder & CEO of Kesk (Iraq)

Basima begins her video interview by making a sobering observation. "The Iraqi government can only provide 12 hours of electricity daily." This prompted Basima to look to solar energy as a sustainable solution and found Kesk, the first company in the country to offer green building solutions.  

Corina Huang, founder & CEO of Boncha Boncha (Taiwan)

Did you know that half the population in the world suffers from pill-related dysphagia, the difficulty to swallow pills? Huang personally saw how her grandmother had the same problem whenever she took her medicine. Frustrated that she couldn't find a viable alternative, she decided to create one: high-absorption candy pills, which Boncha Boncha manufactures. 

"We use nanotechnology to combine the nutrients with the candy to improve absorption, so the nutrient can be fully beneficial," she explains.

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Rebecca Percasky, co-founder & CEO of The Better Packaging Co. (New Zealand)

Percasky and her partners at The Better Packaging Co. are doing their part for the zero-waste movement by producing sustainable packaging, and communicating and educating about waste. "We are on a mission to reduce the environmental impacts of packaging and waste—it’s not enough to make sustainable packaging; we need to ensure it has a place to go at the end of its use," she says.

Orianna Bretschger, founder & CEO of Aquacycl (USA)

The recipient of Cartier Women's Initiatives' Science & Technology Award is the woman at the helm of a company that offers an innovative cost-effective modular on-site organic waste treatment systems to solve wastewater management in places that need it the most, from homes and small communities to large manufacturing plants. 

"Aquacycl technology uses naturally existing bacteria in waste water and create an environment for them to become dominant populations in our systems," Bretschger explains. "They generate electricity and treat the water at the same time, so we don't need an energy grid and a sewer grid."

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