Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards 2023 call for application until June 30

The award seeks to help changemakers grow their business and hone leadership skills.

From left: Dr Foo, Liu, Renuka and Lim share their thoughts on creating thriving ecosystems for women entrepreneurs (All photos: Cartier Women’s Initiative: Kuala Lumpur Speaker Series)

Women have become so adept at multitasking and getting things done by themselves that they find it difficult to delegate. Busy being capable and focused on what they want to achieve, they tend to spread themselves thin and neglect their health. These were among the pertinent comments voiced at the Cartier Women’s Initiative: Kuala Lumpur Speaker Series on May 20.

Continuing on that thread, Renuka Sena, co-founder and CEO of Proficeo, said women should not be afraid to delegate. They need to let go and trust that they have good people and build up the next generation of generals who can take charge. Women also need to be able to admit that they are tired, she felt. “We have to remind ourselves that we cannot do everything. Outsource and get help.”

Joining Renuka in the panel discussion were Sunway iLabs Ventures head Dr Melissa Foo and PichaEats co-founder Kim Lim. Trainer, broadcast journalist, author and emcee Freda Liu moderated the event, directed at the question: How can we create thriving ecosystems for women entrepreneurs in Malaysia?

The Speaker Series, curated by Cartier Southeast Asia and Oceania and Impact Hub, also aims to raise awareness of the CWI in the region and connect impact-driven women entrepreneurs, investors and policymakers. It kicked off in Singapore in March and will be held in Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam next.

Foo, vice-president of the Malaysian Business Angel Network, is involved in early-stage investments and innovation across sectors such as health, education, fintech, smart cities and retail tech. She observes that men are rarely asked, “How do you balance it all?”

The trained dentist who returned to Malaysia from the US a decade ago recounts how when she once applied for a loan, the bank officer did not hear what she was saying because he was distracted by her dangly earrings. “I catch myself being self-conscious about things like that.”


The Speaker Series, curated by Cartier Southeast Asia and Oceania and Impact Hub, also aims to raise awareness of the CWI in the region

Lim notes that a common trait of women entrepreneurs is playing safe: They want certain things to happen before taking the next step. Her suggestion? “Just do and things will sort themselves out. Let go, play more and sink more into the unknown.”

Across the floor, the 50-odd invited guests nodded, then put their heads together to share their experience of starting their own companies and running them. Some takeaways from this “mix-n-fix” session were: communicate your vision clearly; it can be lonely at the top; investors may not be able to relate to your products; you need ingenuity and courage to help other women rise.

French jewellery maison Cartier easily identifies with creating ecosystems for women. The CWI provides women impact entrepreneurs financial, social and human capital support to grow their business and build leadership skills.This annual programme drives change by empowering the changemakers. It is open to women-run and women-owned businesses in any country and sector that seek to solve pressing global challenges or find solutions for the future of our planet.

Applications for the 2023 edition of the CWI opened on May 16 and will close on June 30 at 2pm (Central European summer time). There will be awards for two new regional categories, Francophone Sub-Saharan Africa and Oceania, besides the existing seven.

A new thematic award for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, open to all genders, has been created to encourage entrepreneurial solutions designed to close gaps of access, outcome or opportunities for communities that have been underrepresented or underserved. It is the CWI’s second thematic prize, after that for Science & Technology Pioneer launched last year.


Winners of the CWI, to be announced next April, will receive their awards in Paris. Besides training and mentorship programmes, as well as opportunities to connect with cohorts around the world, these inspirational women will benefit from having their business solutions brought to the largest audience possible.

The CWI has supported 262 women from 62 countries and given out a total of US$6.44 million in grants since its launch in 2006.

Celebrating its 15th anniversary on International Women’s Day at the World Expo 2022 in Dubai on March 8, Cartier brought together its global community of winners to toast their achievements and collectively shape the future of the programme. Looking back on its evolution and footprint, the company continues to find ways to empower women who leverage business as a force for good.

See here for more information or to apply for the CWI Awards.

This article first appeared on May 30, 2022 in The Edge Malaysia.


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