The Paris-based awards program calling on Australian & NZ-based impact entrepreneurs

The Paris-based awards program calling on Australian & NZ-based impact entrepreneurs


Women’s Agenda has partnered with the Cartier Women’s Initiative to highlight opportunities for Australian and New Zealand-based impact entrepreneurs to apply for the global program.

The Cartier Women’s Initiative aims to lift the “missing women” and celebrate female-led businesses that meet at least one of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Having supported 262 female entrepreneurs since its launch, the Initiative is putting the final call out for applications for its 2023 edition.

The program’s Paris-based Global Director Wingee Sampaio said the aim is to elevate those women who are helping to solve some of the globe’s biggest goals: improving education, healthcare, the environment, economic development and job stability.

“For women to realise their full potential is actually for the world to realise their full potential,” Sampaio said.

We met Sampaio on The Women’s Agenda Podcast, to learn more about her own career supporting women’s entrepreneurship as well as the global awards program.

Before joining the Initiative, Sampaio had been working on a series of corporate innovation projects where she met with many women entrepreneurs interested in changing the world through social or environmental impacts.

“This led me to become very passionate and interested in this idea of ‘the missing woman’ in the entrepreneurship ecosystem. That was about seven years ago now and since then, I have pivoted my career towards supporting women-impact entrepreneurs,” says Sampaio.

She has also worked with an organisation called Next Wave Impact, to support women-impact entrepreneurs, and three years ago, moved from California to Paris, France where she serendipitously met the Cartier team to join them as a consultant. Soon after, she became the program director.

“I’m very happy to have the chance to do this work every day, and I’m inspired by the many women entrepreneurs, the many changemakers in general, that I have a chance to meet,” says Sampaio.

The women entrepreneurs in the program’s community are driving forces in helping to solve challenges throughout the world with most of their top goals being to improve education, healthcare, economic development and job stability.

The Initiative’s annual award criteria is reflective of this “force for good” mentality because the program recognises how women are highly motivated to create positive social and environmental change.

To be eligible for an award, the women-owned business must be for-profit, in the early stages of growth and meet the UN sustainable development goals. Awardees will be given funding, INSEAD enrolment, media visibility, tailored mentoring, international business exposure and will join a global community of supporters.

This year, the Initiative has added some new awards around the world, including a Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Award, exclusively for founders and entrepreneurs from here in Australia and New Zealand.

The “triple burden” for female entrepreneurs

Women-owned businesses continue to receive just a fraction of the investment that their male counterparts receive – part of the “triple burden” that female entrepreneurs experience that the Cartier Women’s Initiative aims to address.

The first burden is in that lack of financing going towards women-owned businesses in comparison to those owned by men, making it harder for many women entrepreneurs to successfully grow and scale their businesses.

The second burden is in the fact that female-dominated industries have been some of the most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. And the third burden stems from women taking on the bulk of the unpaid and domestic duties globally.

Since launching in 2006, the annual Cartier Women’s Initiative Award has recognised and supported 262 women across the globe, creating a community that spans 62 countries.

“Many of the fellows, when they first joined the program, were looking to benefit from both financial capital support as well as the fellowship support to gain skills and build their expertise in entrepreneurship,” Sampaio says.

“But, at the end of their fellowship, it’s usually their sisterhood that they have built amongst other women-impact entrepreneurs that has left a big place for the Cartier Women’s Initiative in their hearts.”

This year, any women entrepreneurs who meet the criteria can submit an application to the Cartier Women’s Initiative Award until Thursday, June 30, 2022 at 2pm Central European Summer Time (CEST).

Two new categories have also been added to the 2023 edition of the Regional Awards, including Francophone Sub-Saharan Africa and Oceania, with the latter covering Australia and New Zealand.

A new Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Award has also been created for the 2023 edition, aimed at encouraging entrepreneurial solutions that help to close access gaps and improve outcomes and opportunities for typically underrepresented or underserved communities.

Check out more on the awards and the Cartier Women’s Initiative here.

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