The Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards Honored 21 Businesses That Are Poised to Change the World

When Fariel Salahuddin first visited rural communities in Pakistan, she realized that women without access to running water or electricity were traveling upward of two hours a day to retrieve water from faraway villages. What could they do with their time and energy, she wondered, if this basic necessity was afforded to them? So she started UpTrade, a company that allows these women to barter goats (which they have in abundance) in exchange for solar energy installations which are then used to power water pumps.

Fariel is just one of the women who were honored at last night’s Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards in San Francisco.

The Initiative is actually a business competition, open to women-run, for-profit companies in any country or sector, looking to create social good. 21 finalists (representing seven regions of the world) were selected from more than 2,000 applicants, and were then brought to San Francisco for a week of one-on-one personal business coaching, knowledge coaching and networking events.

Then, at a star-studded awards ceremony (think:Lupita Nyong’o and Maria Shriver), a panel of international judges awarded seven of these amazing women with the top prize: $100,000 to grow their business.

Other winners from the evening: Liza Velarde, who created a blood test that detects the presence of circulating tumor cells in patients, allowing doctors to better monitor the disease; Yeon Jeong Cho, who launched an online language service that trains seniors in Korea and connects them with Korean language learners, worldwide; and Manka Angwafo, whose company, Grassland Cameroon, enhances the African food supply chain through asset-based finances to smallholder farmers.

In short, these are the women who are going to change the world. And thanks to Cartier, they now have the freedom, the mentorship and the cash to take their businesses to the next level.

Want to read more about the finalists (who just might inspire your next great idea)? Check them out here.

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