The Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards are an international business plan competition created in 2006 by Cartier, the Women’s Forum, McKinsey & Company and INSEAD business school to identify, support and encourage projects by women entrepreneurs.
The annual competition involves two rounds:
Round 1 (in June): The Jury selects 18 Finalists*, the top three projects of each region (Latin America, North America, Europe, Sub-Saharan Africa, Middle East & North Africa, Asia-Pacific), on the basis of their short business plans. They receive coaching from experienced businesspeople to move to the next round.
Round 2 (in October): The Finalists are invited to France for the final round of competition which includes submitting a detailed business plan and presenting their projects in front of the Jury. They are also invited to the Annual Global Meeting of the Women’s Forum.
Based on the quality of the plan and the persuasiveness of the verbal presentation, one Laureate for each of the five regions is selected and receives a unique and comprehensive support package: US $ 20 000 of funding, one year of coaching, networking opportunities and media exposure.
The project to be considered for the Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards must be an original for-profit business creation in the initial phase (1-3 years old) led by a woman.
* The “for-profit” requirement: the business submitted for the Award must be designed to generate revenues. We do not accept non-profit project proposals.
* The “originality” requirement: we want your project to be a new concept, conceived and imagined by the founder and her team and not a copy or subsidiary of an existing business.
* The “initial phase” requirement: the project you submit should be in the first stages of its development with one year of operations and sales to account for but no older than 3-4 years. The ‘age’ of the company will not be measured solely on the basis of the date of incorporation. The development and size of the company will also be taken into account.
* The main leadership position must be filled by a woman. A good command of English is required (both verbal and written) to take full advantage of the benefits the Award has to offer.
* All entrants must be aged 18 or the age of legal majority in their respective countries or states of citizenship, whichever is older, on the day of the application deadline.
The Jury evaluates the projects based on criteria of creativity, sustainability (potential for growth) and impact.
* The creativity criterion: the Jury looks at the degree of innovation shown by the overall business concept, the uniqueness of the project on the market or country where it is being developed.
* The sustainability criterion: the Jury examines the financial impact of the business, its revenue model, development strategy and other aspects indicating its chances of long-term success and future growth.
* The impact criterion: the Jury evaluates the effect of the business on society, in terms of jobs created or its effect on the immediate or broader environment.
* The overall quality and clarity of the material presented: the Jury is looking for motivated and committed entrepreneurs who are passionate about their initiatives. Being clear and concise, organizing your ideas and not repeating yourself will show that you are serious about your application.
View the composition of the Jury.
More advice on how to present an effective business proposal in our toolbox section.
To understand what the Jury is looking for, take a look at our past laureates.
In the first phase of the competition, the Jury examines the application forms and selects the top three candidates per region who become finalists of the Award. The finalists are coached to move into the next phase.
In the second phase, the Jury evaluates the detailed business plans and oral pitches of each finalist. Based on the quality of the written and oral parts, one Laureate for each of the six regions(*) is selected.
The announcement of the Laureates takes place in October each year at the Annual Global Meeting of the Women’s Forum in Deauville, France.