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Aug 16, 2023

How to empower women entrepreneurs for a better future

How can women entrepreneurs be empowered to build a better future? Although women-run and women-owned businesses have proven to have a strong and sustainable social and environmental impact, women entrepreneurs still face persistent challenges and bias. So, how can they achieve their full potential? 

This is the aim of the Cartier Women’s Initiative, an annual international entrepreneurship program that aims to drive change by empowering women to impact entrepreneurs. Founded in 2006, it has grown “from an annual, one-off event celebrating the potential of women as impact business leaders to a stand-alone, yearlong program that supports and uplifts women impact entrepreneurs leading up-and-running businesses,” as Wingee Sampaio, Global Program Director at the Cartier Women’s Initiative, told Forbes.

Want to know more? You’re in luck! Three students from Istituto Marangoni’s Master’s in Fashion Promotion, Communication & Digital Media attended the Cartier Women’s Initiative award ceremony in Paris at the Salle Pleyel.

The gala was a star-studded affair with personalities from the fields of art and culture who are all active in human rights, such as writer Sandi Toksvig, lawyer Amal Clooney, and actresses Mélanie Laurent and Yara Shahidi. These great women’s stories allowed all participants to reflect on tomorrow’s entrepreneurship.

Relive the ceremony’s highlights through the words of the IM students who attended the event.


For Sandra Gore, Cartier Women’s Initiative is setting the tone for ways in which luxury can help change the world 

As I hit the single shallow step of Salle Pleyel, I looked up to see dozens of women from all over the world, waiting to have their seats assigned. Amal Clooney, the night’s first speaker, walked onto the stage in a breathtaking white sequin and feather-embellished dress. Co-Founder of the Clooney Foundation for Justice and barrister specialised in international law and human rights, her message set an electrifying tone for the night: “My goal is equal justice for all, and my philosophy is that justice must be waged.” She went on to present the importance of protecting women’s rights and the startling cases she’s fought for.

Different speakers, such as writers, actors, creatives and activists Sandi Toksvig, Nadine Labaki, Yara Shahidi, and Mélanie Laurent, took the stage during the night. Sadeck Berrabah gave an artistic performance. Cyrille Vigneron, President and CEO at Cartier, delivered a moving speech about feminism, a value both men and women should all fight for. Each of the 32 finalists’ stories was incredibly touching, especially as they had all personally experienced the issues being addressed. The prizes were divided into two categories: “science and technology” and “diversity, equality and inclusion”, and winners were from all regions of the globe. It was beautiful to see many women from different cultures wearing tradition-inspired gowns, paying tribute to their countries of origin, where they’d started their businesses.


Victoria Pettis on how the awards act as a catalyst for change by questioning gender conventions, fostering a fairer working environment and offering us a glimmer of hope 

Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards gives a glimmer of hope for this 2023, in which we are overwhelmed by so much bad news. Cartier asserted its commitment to gender parity by celebrating exceptional women entrepreneurs who significantly impact their fields.

Amal Clooney started us off with an inspiring speech and this sentence: “Justice is not inevitable: it doesn’t just happen on its own. We must fight for it, gather our forces, forge alliances, prepare a strategy and be determined to do whatever it takes. For me, waging justice means trying to change the system—one case at a time.”

Cyrille Vigneron reminded us that when the game is unfair, we can reshuffle the cards; we must “change the world one card at a time.” The stories of resilience, innovation, and determination revealed later that night served as beacons of inspiration, demonstrating the immense potential that lies within women entrepreneurs. From affordable eco-friendly female hygiene to finding a solution for hunger in countries consumed by poverty, one after another, each woman showed us the kind of passion and empathy we need for a better world.

Mélanie Laurent moved my heart that evening. Being an environmental activist and an actress, she reminded us that despite all the negative news we hear, events like this prove that there are still many positive elements and that things can change in the right direction.


For Aditi Ashok, the experience fuelled her determination to contribute meaningfully to society, as she realised how visionary women can create innovative solutions to global challenges

As soon as I arrived at the venue, I immediately sensed the vibrant energy in the air. I was immersed in an unforgettable experience celebrating female empowerment, innovation, and entrepreneurship. The event brought together an impressive array of visionary women from various corners of the world, all dedicated to making a tangible impact in their communities. Conversations with these remarkable entrepreneurs ignited a flame of inspiration within me, fostering a profound sense of unity and shared purpose.

These remarkable women had transformed their visionary ideas into successful ventures dealing with pressing social and environmental challenges. Their journeys were laced with determination, resilience, and firm commitment to their causes. As they shared their triumphs and struggles, I was reminded of the power of perseverance, creativity, and unwavering belief in one’s abilities. Each of the projects showcased demonstrated immense innovation and social impact. From technological advancements in healthcare to eco-friendly solutions for sustainable agriculture, the ventures presented were a testament to the power of female-led entrepreneurship. Witnessing these women left an indelible mark on my aspirations, fueling my determination to contribute meaningfully to society. Every moment was a celebration of both entrepreneurship and the beauty of diversity. Through the event, I discovered a powerful sense of purpose and an unwavering belief: women can shape a better future for all.



Aditi Ashok, Sandra Gore and Victoria Pettis
MA students in Fashion Promotion, Communication & Digital Media, Paris