The 2021 Cartier Women’s Initiative program has named 24 female entrepreneurial finalists, including five women from North America, who will compete to become one of eight laureates. More than $1.2 million in prize money will be distributed among these women business owners.
This year, to further increase its impact and relevance, the program has launched the Science & Technology Pioneer Award. In addition to the seven existing Regional Awards, three more women entrepreneurs at the forefront of scientific and technological innovation will be recognized. Open to women entrepreneurs from any country and sector, this award highlights disruptive solutions built around unique, protected or hard-to-reproduce technological or scientific advances.
A record $1,280,000 in prize money will be awarded this year, due to the new Science & Technology Pioneer Award category. The eight winners, known as “laureates,” in each award category will take home $100,000 in prize money. The second and third runner-ups for each award category will receive $30,000. In addition, the eight laureates and 16 finalists will benefit from tailored personal business training, collective workshops, media visibility and international networking opportunities, as well as the opportunity to join an INSEAD university entrepreneurship program.
The 24 finalists, known as “fellows,” were selected among 876 applicants from 142 countries. For the first time, the Cartier Women’s Initiative has recognized women entrepreneurs from Mali, Iraq and Myanmar. These fellows represent the top three businesses for each of the seven Regional Awards and for the Science & Technology Pioneer Award.
The eight winners, known as “laureates,” will be announced on May 26, during a virtual ceremony, which will close a digital awards week with the theme, “Ripple Effect.”
Among the regional fellows are three from North America: Rebecca Hui, Ellington West and Sabina Bharwani
Rebecca Hui, New York City, founded Roots Studio, which keeps traditions intact by digitizing endangered art, providing IP education, and expanding market access into global fashion through royalties. The business is addressing a way to connect indigenous artists to a multibillion dollar market that has appropriated ethnic surface pattern designs for years.
Ellington West, Baltimore, founder of Sonavi Labs, which creates medical devices and software that harness AI to detect respiratory diseases in seconds and help manage chronic conditions. This company addresses the shortages faced by health systems and frontline workers who lack the tools needed to effectively coordinate and manage care.
Sabina Bharwani, Austin, Texas, founder of Hello World, a SaaS company serving in school K 12 computer science programs through its proprietary curriculum and learning management software. This company addresses the low availability and budget for computer science teachers and curriculums that do not offer computer science courses.
The North American Science & Technology Pioneer category includes two fellows from North America: Orianna Bretschger and Christine Gyenge.
Orianna Bretschger, San Diego, founder of Aquacycl, with its patented BioElectrochemical Treatment Technology (BETT), uses natural bacteria for the purpose of accelerating wastewater treatment rates, eliminating primary sludge, minimizing secondary sludge, producing electricity and making new molecular water that uses natural bacteria to accelerate wastewater treatment rates, producing electricity and making new molecular water.
Christine Gyenge, Vancouver, founder of Agora Energy Technologies, an emerging engineering company that develops innovative non metal CO2 based batteries for long duration renewable energy storage.
Since 2006, the Cartier Women’s Initiative has helped women impact entrepreneurs to reach their full potential by bringing international recognition to their achievements and providing them with the necessary financial, social and human capital support to grow their businesses and build their leadership skills. The program is open to women-run and women-owned businesses from any country and sector that aim to have a strong and sustainable positive impact on society as defined by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Since its creation, the Cartier Women’s Initiative has accompanied more than 260 promising women entrepreneurs from 59 countries and has awarded over $4 million in prize money to support their businesses.
“Women have always had a pivotal role at Cartier, both as a driving force and an endless source of inspiration. In these challenging times, they are more admirable than ever, proving their resilience in the face of adversity and their ability to create concrete and durable solutions not only for themselves but for their communities and the world at large,” Cyrille Vigneron, president and CEO of Cartier International, said in a statement. “It is our honor and pride to support these women who keep pushing the boundaries in order to make the world a better and more equal place.”