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Cartier Announces 3 Arab Female Fellows for This Major Prize

Vogue Arabia x Cartier

Model wears dress by Raey, boots by Giuseppe Zanotti, and jewelry by Cartier. Photography: David Wang

Cartier is synonymous with jewelry, fine jewelry, watchmaking, fragrances, leather goods, and accessories, and above all, with women. The Cartier Women’s Initiative, since its inception in 2006, is committed to upholding women entrepreneurs whose businesses serve as a force for good.  It promotes their achievements globally, and offers necessary financial, social, and human capital support for growth. Open to women-run and women-owned businesses in any country and sector with the condition that it is aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, the Initiative announced 24 fellows from 876 applicants hailing from 142 countries for 2021. This year, the program has launched the science and technology pioneer award. In addition to its existing seven regional awards, three more women will be recognized by the Initiative, which has thus far awarded over US $4 million in prize money to support businesses and has accompanied over 260 women entrepreneurs from 59 countries. The eight laureates for each award category will be granted $100,000 in prize money with second and third runners-ups receiving $30,000. They will also receive individual training, collective workshops, media visibility, and international networking opportunities, as well as the invitation to join an INSEAD graduate business school impact entrepreneurship program.

Among the Cartier Women’s Initiative 2021 fellows are three Arab women, and notably, this is the first time that a woman entrepreneur from Iraq is recognized; these women are announced below. Eight laureates will be announced on May 26th during a virtual ceremony. In the two days leading up to this, speakers, including Cartier president and CEO Cyrille Vigneron along with thought leaders and friends of the maison will discuss how each person can help drive change for women entrepreneurs. “Women have always had a pivotal role at Cartier, both as a driving force and an endless source of inspiration. In these challenging times, they are more admirable than ever, proving their resilience in the face of adversity and their ability to create concrete and durable solutions not only for themselves but for their communities and the world at large,” states Vigneron. “It is our honor and pride to support these women who keep pushing the boundaries in order to make the world a better and more equal place.”

cartier Women's initiative 2021

Cartier Women’s Initiative 2021 fellow Manal Al Hakim. Photo courtesy Cartier

Manal Al Hakim, Lebanon
Initiative: Geek Express

“Geek Express enables MENA youth with STEM skills to help them navigate today’s digital requirements, and build a future-ready society that will ultimately benefit humanity as a whole,” starts Al Hakim. “The world we are heading into is facing new problems and challenges. It needs more innovators, entrepreneurs, problem solvers, and STEM is at the core of critical thinking and science literacy. We are here to prepare the youth for their future and ours.”

Geek Express is an accredited coding academy that offers private and group online classes for kids and teens ages five to 17. Al Hakim and her partner opened a gallery called Geek Express in Saifi Village, in Beirut’s central district, selling memorabilia, collectibles, and street art. Upon discovering littleBits Electronics, a Lego-based learning game invented by a Lebanese woman, the duo decided to offer it for sale. Discovering that parents were reluctant to buy the product because they felt uneasy with the technology, Geek Express began running Saturday workshops where kids could work on the littleBits projects. The ed-tech platform grew to teach technology in a fun and accessible way.

Cartier Women's Initiative 2021

Cartier Women’s Initiative 2021 fellow Basima Abdulrahman. Photo courtesy Cartier

Basima Abdulrahman, Iraq
Initiative: Kesk

“Iraq’s electricity crisis is a bottleneck that KESK can alleviate. Our green energy solutions can play a significant role in transforming Iraq in a positive way that will benefit our citizens now and in the future,” begins Abdulrahman. “Kesk’s ongoing effort to make buildings and infrastructure healthy, environmentally responsible, and resource-efficient can help realize the goal of a better, greener Iraq.”

While studying in the United States, Abdulrahman learned about green building design and the green rating system known as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). Kesk was launched in 2018 as an engineering and design consultancy to bring LEED to Iraq. Today it offers AC units with internal components and external solar panels and accessories. Eliminating the battery makes the units cheaper and simpler.

Cartier Women's Initiative 2021

Cartier Women’s Initiative 2021 fellow Rana El Sekhawy. Photo courtesy Cartier

Rana El Sekhawy, UAE
Initative: Monki Box

“Monki Box’s ultimate aim is to help children develop to their fullest potential by developing the skills to serve them and their communities through early play experiences, starts El Sekhawy. “We want parents to feel confident they’re giving their little ones just what they want and need at every stage of their brain’s development.”

Monki Box is an early learning platform that helps parents support their child’s cognitive and physical development through science-backed play essentials and information matched to the child’s stage of development.Rana launched MonkiBox as a tool to offer parents the right products and information at the right time. It began as a toy curation subscription service and has evolved to design and manufacture play essentials that are grounded in the science of early childhood development. Its sustainability goal has led to it focus on natural materials. Today, the company has reached roughly 1300 families since its founding in 2018.

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