Women Now

Meet the inspiring women entrepreneurs and winning laureates at the Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards 2018

The annual Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards have drawn to a close with 6 incredible laureates receiving US$100,000 in prize money to support their ongoing desire to do good for the society


The curtains have drawn on the annual highly esteemed Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards last Thursday (Apr 26) in Singapore for the second year in a row. The 2018 awards celebrated and paid heed to women entrepreneurs with budding startups under the theme “Bold Alchemy”. Alchemy is the process of turning substances into other substances, namely base metals and into gold - so the theme, in layman’s terms, is the exploration of evolving what we have into something better.


Founded in 2006, the Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards are open to women-run, for-profit businesses in any country and sector working to create strong social impact. The awards recognises women with strong visions in entrepreneurship and gives them a global platform to share their ideas with the world.



Housed within the auditorium of The Capella, it was truly an inspiring evening filled with motivational talks and discussions on women empowerment.


Presented for the second year in a row by Sandi Toksvig, the UK broadcaster famed for promoting gender equality in politics and society, the ceremony unveiled the Cartier Awards’ new partnership with TED through a specially curated TED session which featured a series of live talks by incredible, accomplished women which included the likes of Halla Tósmadóttir (One-time presidential candidate for Iceland and Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards former laureate) and Zubaida Bai (Founder and CEO of Ayzh).




The discussion, which centered around making concrete contributions towards finding solutions to today’s most pressing challenges, was facilitated by TED Institute curator Bryn Freedman and completed by a performance from virtuoso violinist Gingger Shankar.


This was followed by two captivating panel conversations. H.E Sheihka Lubna bint Khalid Al Qasimi (President of Zayed University) and Cartier CEO Cyrille Vigneron exchanged on the importance of cultural diversity in a time of global citizenship while Anousheh Ansari (CEO of Prodea Systems; first female private space explorer), Shinta Kamdani (CEO of Sintesa Group) and Ilian Mihov (Dean of INSEAD) spoke on practical measures to grant women more access to entrepreneurial opportunities.  



CEO Cyrille Vigneron then announced the laureates selected by an independent international jury amongst nearly 2800 applicants from over 130 countries. The six laureates that received the accolades are:


Swati Pandey, India

Swati has had first-hand exposure to how severely limiting life with diabetes can be ever since her mother fell ill with it 20 years ago. She started Arboreal Agro Innovations — an industrial scale, vertically-integrated producer of stevia, a 100% natural substitute for sugar. Speaking to Cartier, she said, “I was driven by a sense of conviction that our generation must build upon the sacrifices of our parents, by taking up risks and building global ventures that will solve some of the biggest challenges facing India and the world.”