.
T

he Cartier Women’s Initiative—the annual entrepreneurship program that awards women-run and women-owned businesses from any country and sector that aim to have a sustainable social and/or environmental impact—recently launched a new round of call for applications. The initiative was launched in 2006 and since then has supported 262 women hailing from 62 countries, awarding a total of over USD $6.4 million in grants. The group is accepting nominations until the end of June. We had the pleasure of interviewing Wingee Sampaio, the initiative’s Global Program Director, to learn more about the history of the program and what’s new for this year. 

The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

How did you come to lead this initiative at Cartier Women’s Initiative? What gets you excited about this work?

Prior to joining the Cartier Women’s Initiative, I was in the capital markets space and in my last role I was working on product development, product strategy within the financial service space, and specifically on the issues of financial inclusion. This gave me a lot of exposure towards the entrepreneurship ecosystem. I was based in the Bay Area and so I was able to see first-hand the power of entrepreneurship to create social and environmental change. And as a woman in that space at that time it was also very clear that we were such a small minority. At that time—seven years ago—I decided that in the next phase of my career I would like to focus on women-backed entrepreneurship, and growing that ecosystem. With the Cartier family I was able to do just that.

Since your time in the Silicon Valley and now in charge of a program supporting women-led businesses, would you say we are getting closer to achieving more parity in the way women receive funding?

I do believe we have made a dent. For example, I think there is a serious movement around HeForShe, and I see many male leaders stepping up to recognize that, hey, we're leaving half of the talent out of the conversation and we’re not developing products and services with half the talent or half the team leading. Indeed, the data still shows that the progress we have made has been a bit marginal, especially since the pandemic halted some of that progress.

Indeed, during the pandemic women were disproportionally affected not just in the workplace but in society at large. How are you hoping that the Cartier Initiative begins to make a difference in reversing this trend?

We believe businesses have an important role in society around social and environmental change, not just in terms of products and services but also corporate citizenship. I think for us this is really important and we see that women entrepreneurs are making a lot of progress toward social and environmental change, but their businesses don't get the opportunity to scale bigger. I specifically talk about scaling the business because the biggest barrier to women’s entrepreneurship is the financing gap, which is widely acknowledged. At the moment, many women are starting businesses, which become profitable, but they stay as a small business and they don't have a chance to grow. So, we're focused specifically within the initiative to help women-owned and led businesses grow beyond that stage.

You said it's not just about profitability, but other aspects too. What else are you measuring? Or what else do you care about when you're evaluating applications? 

The two main criteria we look for is financial sustainability—because without financial sustainability, you cannot continue as a business—and impact intentionality. When we say impact intentionality we mean businesses created with a purpose of solving some sort of social and environmental challenge. During the journey of entrepreneurship, the entrepreneur has to have the intent of wanting this business to reach not just a financial goal but also a social impact goal. 

What does it really mean to be a fellow and to have won this fellowship? I think of the cash award as the entry ticket. But then what else? Is there more to it?

Indeed, the grant that we provide the fellows for their business is the entry present from us, in supporting their work. There's also a one-year fellowship. Via the fellowship program we try to meet the entrepreneur where they're at and try to help them remove the barriers to the challenges that they're facing through educational and training support. So, the fellowship is where we deliver all of our human capital support. 

Where do you see this initiative going next? I'd love to hear about your aspirations for what you're hoping to see this year and then your aspirations for the next decade. 

As part of our community reunion in Dubai to celebrate our 15th birthday in March, we did a workshop on innovating on the future of the women’s initiative, with the community. At that time, we ideated together and had close to 400 ideas! We have been distilling them down over the summer and what we have found is two main themes. One is—no surprise—capital. As a result, we are currently taking a close look at a few ideas around capital programs, for example how to better facilitate introductions to VCs? How could we help the fellows in raising more effective capital, etc.? 

The second vertical of the work is around community. We created the community vertical of our work around three years ago when we hired our community manager. I think it enabled a great start. And now I think it's time to figure out how to decentralize and create more localized community moments.

Editor’s Note: To learn more about the Cartier Women’s Initiative and how to apply, please visit here. The call for applications for the 2023 edition of the Cartier Women’s Initiative will close on June 30, 2022, at 2pm (CEST).

About
Ana C. Rold
:
Ana C. Rold is the Founder and Publisher of Diplomatic Courier. She teaches political science courses at Northeastern University and is the Host and Producer of Future Tense podcast. Follow her on Twitter @ACRold
The views presented in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of any other organization.

a global affairs media network

www.diplomaticourier.com

Helping Women Entrepreneurs Thrive Globally

Photo via Pixabay.

June 16, 2022

Global Program Director of Cartier Women's Initiative Wingee Sampaio spoke with Diplomatic Courier Publisher Ana Rold in an interview recently - where Sampaio spoke about Cartier's work to achieve more parity in how women entrepreneurs win funding.

T

he Cartier Women’s Initiative—the annual entrepreneurship program that awards women-run and women-owned businesses from any country and sector that aim to have a sustainable social and/or environmental impact—recently launched a new round of call for applications. The initiative was launched in 2006 and since then has supported 262 women hailing from 62 countries, awarding a total of over USD $6.4 million in grants. The group is accepting nominations until the end of June. We had the pleasure of interviewing Wingee Sampaio, the initiative’s Global Program Director, to learn more about the history of the program and what’s new for this year. 

The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

How did you come to lead this initiative at Cartier Women’s Initiative? What gets you excited about this work?

Prior to joining the Cartier Women’s Initiative, I was in the capital markets space and in my last role I was working on product development, product strategy within the financial service space, and specifically on the issues of financial inclusion. This gave me a lot of exposure towards the entrepreneurship ecosystem. I was based in the Bay Area and so I was able to see first-hand the power of entrepreneurship to create social and environmental change. And as a woman in that space at that time it was also very clear that we were such a small minority. At that time—seven years ago—I decided that in the next phase of my career I would like to focus on women-backed entrepreneurship, and growing that ecosystem. With the Cartier family I was able to do just that.

Since your time in the Silicon Valley and now in charge of a program supporting women-led businesses, would you say we are getting closer to achieving more parity in the way women receive funding?

I do believe we have made a dent. For example, I think there is a serious movement around HeForShe, and I see many male leaders stepping up to recognize that, hey, we're leaving half of the talent out of the conversation and we’re not developing products and services with half the talent or half the team leading. Indeed, the data still shows that the progress we have made has been a bit marginal, especially since the pandemic halted some of that progress.

Indeed, during the pandemic women were disproportionally affected not just in the workplace but in society at large. How are you hoping that the Cartier Initiative begins to make a difference in reversing this trend?

We believe businesses have an important role in society around social and environmental change, not just in terms of products and services but also corporate citizenship. I think for us this is really important and we see that women entrepreneurs are making a lot of progress toward social and environmental change, but their businesses don't get the opportunity to scale bigger. I specifically talk about scaling the business because the biggest barrier to women’s entrepreneurship is the financing gap, which is widely acknowledged. At the moment, many women are starting businesses, which become profitable, but they stay as a small business and they don't have a chance to grow. So, we're focused specifically within the initiative to help women-owned and led businesses grow beyond that stage.

You said it's not just about profitability, but other aspects too. What else are you measuring? Or what else do you care about when you're evaluating applications? 

The two main criteria we look for is financial sustainability—because without financial sustainability, you cannot continue as a business—and impact intentionality. When we say impact intentionality we mean businesses created with a purpose of solving some sort of social and environmental challenge. During the journey of entrepreneurship, the entrepreneur has to have the intent of wanting this business to reach not just a financial goal but also a social impact goal. 

What does it really mean to be a fellow and to have won this fellowship? I think of the cash award as the entry ticket. But then what else? Is there more to it?

Indeed, the grant that we provide the fellows for their business is the entry present from us, in supporting their work. There's also a one-year fellowship. Via the fellowship program we try to meet the entrepreneur where they're at and try to help them remove the barriers to the challenges that they're facing through educational and training support. So, the fellowship is where we deliver all of our human capital support. 

Where do you see this initiative going next? I'd love to hear about your aspirations for what you're hoping to see this year and then your aspirations for the next decade. 

As part of our community reunion in Dubai to celebrate our 15th birthday in March, we did a workshop on innovating on the future of the women’s initiative, with the community. At that time, we ideated together and had close to 400 ideas! We have been distilling them down over the summer and what we have found is two main themes. One is—no surprise—capital. As a result, we are currently taking a close look at a few ideas around capital programs, for example how to better facilitate introductions to VCs? How could we help the fellows in raising more effective capital, etc.? 

The second vertical of the work is around community. We created the community vertical of our work around three years ago when we hired our community manager. I think it enabled a great start. And now I think it's time to figure out how to decentralize and create more localized community moments.

Editor’s Note: To learn more about the Cartier Women’s Initiative and how to apply, please visit here. The call for applications for the 2023 edition of the Cartier Women’s Initiative will close on June 30, 2022, at 2pm (CEST).

About
Ana C. Rold
:
Ana C. Rold is the Founder and Publisher of Diplomatic Courier. She teaches political science courses at Northeastern University and is the Host and Producer of Future Tense podcast. Follow her on Twitter @ACRold
The views presented in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of any other organization.