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This Iraqi Entrepreneur is One of the Eight Laureates of the Cartier Women’s Initiative

Basima Abdulrahman. Photo: Courtesy of Cartier

Cartier has announced the names of the eight winners of its Women’s Initiative which aims to uplift female entrepreneurs. Among the laureates is Iraq’s Basima Abdulrahman who won the top prize for the Middle East with US $ 100,000.

Abdulrahman is the founder and CEO of Kesk, which offers green building services and products to ease the difficulties faced as a result of Iraq’s unstable power grid. With personal experience of the grid’s fluctuations and outages, Abdulrahman is looking to change the way buildings and communities are planned, constructed, maintained, and operated in Iraq through Kesk. “The electricity crisis has been a big deal. People protest about it once or twice a year,” says Abdulrahman. “Iraqi citizens get no more than 12 hours of electricity from the main grid each day. Iraqis are searching for alternative sources of energy.”


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The eight laureates were selected by an independent international jury committee amongst 876 applicants from over 142 countries announced during a digital ceremony hosted by Cyrille Vigneron, Cartier president and CEO. The virtual summit preceding the ceremony was attended by part-Middle Eastern actor Yara Shahidi who spoke to Erica Lovett, Cartier’s head of Diversity & Inclusion North America about the importance of highlighting diverse stories. “We are supposed to create space for every story,” said Shahidi. “I understand the repercussions of the stories I was telling because I understood the repercussions of the stories I had been told growing up.”


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In a statement, Vigneron said, “For the past fifteen years, the Cartier Women’s Initiative has celebrated women impact entrepreneurs. It has long been our belief that to thrive, they need an enabling environment, a supportive ecosystem and an empowering culture.” She added,” During the Virtual Gathering, like-minded individuals and organizations from all horizons have joined us to explore how we can collectively uplift these outstanding change-makers. We look to the future with confidence by their side, as we witness them building up a tide of change, thus making the world a better place for generations to come.”

The eight laureates are:

Middle East & North Africa: Basima Abdulrahman (Iraq)
Founder & CEO of Kesk

North America: Rebecca Hui (USA)
Founder & CEO of Roots Studio

Latin America: Valentina Rogacheva (Mexico)
Founder of Verqor

East Asia: Corina Huang (Taiwan, China)
Founder & CEO of Boncha Boncha International Company

South Asia & Oceania: Rebecca Percasky (New Zealand)
Co-Founder and Director of The Better Packaging Co.

Europe: Andrea Barber (Spain)
Founder & CEO of RatedPower

Sub-Saharan Africa: Seynabou Dieng (Mali)
Founder & CEO of Maya Sarl

Science & Technology Pioneer Award: Orianna Bretschger (USA)
Founder & CEO of Aquacycl

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