The annual Cartier Women's Initiative Awards aim to encourage women entrepreneurs starting up in business. This year, three sub-Sahara Africa finalists have been announced in the 2015 awards - Chinwe Ohajuruka, founder and CEO of Comprehensive Design Services (CDS) in Nigeria; Suzana Moreira, founder of MoWoza in Mozambique; and Thato Kgatlhanye & Rea Ngwane, co-founders of Rethaka Trading in South Africa.
Since their inception in 2006, the Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards have accompanied over 140 promising female business-owners on their early entrepreneurial ventures, and recognized 44 Laureates. The mission of the Cartier Women's Initiative Awards is threefold:
- To identify and support initial-phase women entrepreneurs through funding and coaching
- To foster the spirit of enterprise by celebrating role models in entrepreneurship
- To create an international network of women entrepreneurs and encourage peer networking
The annual competition involves two rounds: Round 1, which has just taken place in June, saw the Awards Jury members select 18 Award Finalists representing 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. The three awards nominees from the Africa region include: Chinwe Ohajuruka; CEO of Comprehensive Design Services (CDS) in Nigeria; Suzana Moreira, Founder of MoWoza in Mozambique; and Thato Kgatlhanye & Rea Ngwane of Rethaka Trading in South Africa.
The three African awards nominees now receive coaching from experienced businesspeople to move to the next round which takes place in October this year. At that point, 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 six 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 Cartier Women's Initiative Awards are much more than a competition. Everyday these women raise to the challenge of matching social impact with economic value and initiatives like this are essential to share new models and build responsible businesses. There is something very special about a community of driven women entrepreneurs federating these values."
- Stanislas de Quercize, CEO of Cartier
The Jury for the Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards 2015 is composed of 30 high-profile individuals. They are chosen on the basis of their entrepreneurial experience, their business achievements and their commitment to supporting women entrepreneurs. The evaluation of the projects takes into account the following criteria:
- Creativity: The degree of innovation shown by the overall business concept
- Financial sustainability: the financial impact of the business, indicating chances of long-term success
- Impact: the effect on society of the business in terms of jobs created or its effect on the immediate or broader environment
- The overall quality and clarity of the material presented.
Meet the three African awards finalists and their businesses for 2015:
Chinwe Ohajuruka, founder and CEO of Comprehensive Design Services in Nigeria
Chinwe and her company are committed to practical sustainable design solutions for Nigeria and Africa as a whole, Chinwe is a ‘green’ Architect, Project Manager and Sustainability Consultant with over 26 years’ work experience in a variety of international settings. She has been involved with several design projects for collegiate, commercial, residential, institutional and industrial clients. Having designed and managed building projects in Nigeria, the United States and five other countries, Chinwe has a diverse background that complements the diverse and international settings she has found herself in. Other countries she has worked in and done work for include Scotland, Jamaica, Barbados, The Gambia and Zambia. She has been a member of the US Green Building Council (USGBC) and achieved accreditation in the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) in 2008. Subsequently, she has worked on several sustainability projects in leadership positions such as LEED Project Administrator, LEED Project Manager & LEED Advisor. She is also an Accredited Professional (AP) of Green Star (South Africa) and BREEAM (UK), and is currently on the Board of Directors of the Green Building Council, Nigeria (GBCN).
Suzana Moreira, Founder of MoWoza in Mozambique
Suzana Moreira moved from South Africa to Mozambique 3 years ago to launch a mobile commerce platform, MoWoza. MoWoza is derived from the words “mobile” and the Zulu word “woza”, meaning “to come” or “to run”. Suzana explains: “The MoWoza service is about running for our customers”. Retailers in rural or semi-urban communities in Mozambique usually travel to South Africa to replenish their stock – this requires carrying large amounts of cash. The vast majority of informal cross-border traders are women who leave their families to make this long and risky journey. MoWoza offers access to products without having to travel. Storeowners order the inventory they need by simply sending an SMS. Suzana and her team then source the goods and deliver them directly to the shops. In the future, moWoza intends to expand its focus to include financial services with the aim of improving access to credit for its customers. MoWoza initially targeted migrant workers in South Africa who sent goods – essential products, flour, rice, non-perishable food products – to their families in Mozambique. In the last year and a half, the company has concentrated on the traders themselves who are based in Mozambique. It currently services between 500 to 800 customers, with the majority supporting around 10 family members, so in total 5,000 to 8,000 people are benefiting from the service.
Thato Kgatlhanye & Rea Ngwane, Co-Founders of Rethaka Trading in South Africa
Through their company, Rethaka Trading, Thato Kgatlhanye & Rea Ngwane are the creators of Repurpose School Bags, a for profit social enterprise that specialises in green innovative solutions for social development. Their Repurpose Schoolbag is a practical and sustainable solution to a major problem for many kids living in rural and non-electrified parts of South Africa. When the final school bell rings each afternoon, it doesn't just signal the end of another day of learning. Instead, it also means the beginning of an arduous trek along busy and dangerous roads to get back home in time to complete their homework before sunset. Repurpose designs school bags from up-cyled plastic bags, integrating solar technology that charges during the day and transforms into light for school kids to study after dark. These 100% recycled plastic schoolbags are changing the lives of young learners - they are not only environmentally friendly, but they provide much needed renewable energy light sources for these young students who need to study after dark at home where electric light simply doesn’t exist. The integration of reflective light material in the bags also provides much needed visibility for these young students on the often dangerous roads as they walk many kilometers each day just to attend school. These young eco-preneurs are real game changers and are destined for great things.
For more information on the Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards, go to www.cartierwomensinitiative.com