The Cartier Women’s Initiative is an annual international business program that aims to identify, support and encourage businesses led by women entrepreneurs. Created in 2006 by Cartier in partnership with INSEAD Business School, the Cartier Women’s Initiative selects 21 finalists from 7 regions: Latin America & the Caribbean, North America, Europe, Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East & North Africa, East Asia and South Asia & Oceania.

All applications must be submitted in English. To apply for the 2020 edition, fill out the application form on:


The 21 finalists, representing the top 3 businesses from each of the 7 regions, will receive:

  • One-to-one personalized business and financial coaching.
  • A series of business coaching workshops and networking sessions during the Awards Week.
  • Media visibility for the finalists and their businesses.


The 7 laureates (1 from each region) will receive:

  • US$ 100 000 in prize money.

The 14 finalists (the two runners-up from each region) will receive:


In addition to the prize money, all 21 finalists will be awarded:

  • A scholarship to attend the six-day INSEAD Social Entrepreneurship Executive Education Program (pending admission to the program based on eligibility criteria and selection process).
  • Ongoing support and/or mentoring for a year to support the further growth and development of their business

The competition is open to women from all countries and sectors of industry.


  • Market analysis
  • Financial sustainability
  • Leadership
  • Strategy
  • Impact

Cartier announced laureates of the 2019 edition of the international Cartier Women’s Initiative business competition on May 2nd in San Francisco.

The seven laureates of the 2019 edition of the Cartier Women’s Initiative were revealed at the annual Awards ceremony held at Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture in San Francisco, the heart of the global start-up and innovation scene. With the theme, “The Ripple Effect”, the 2019 ceremony paid tribute to entrepreneurs who serve as catalysts for change and growth within their communities and the broader society. Seven laureates were selected by an independent international jury amongst nearly 2900 applicants from over 142 countries (including Japan and Switzerland for the first time) and 7 regions given that Asia-Pacific has now been divided into two regions, namely East Asia and South Asia & Oceania.

After announcing the 7 laureates Cyrille Vigneron, President & CEO of Cartier International spoke about Cartier’s long-standing commitment to supporting women entrepreneurs: “With the Cartier Women’s Initiative, Cartier is reiterating its commitment to women entrepreneurs as well as the ambition to empower them to speak up and reveal their ideas. Their curiosity, audacity and openness mirror the values that are deeply anchored in the culture of our Maison. By showing us at which point the world is diverse, this community of conquerors inspires us to go even further in supporting them to make their dreams true and make our world better”.

Our editor Lizet Esquivel interviewed one of the winners of the edition 2019, LATIN AMERICA: LIZA VELARDE, FROM MEXICO.

Her invention: Delee is a blood test that detects the presence of circulating tumor cells (CTCs) in cancer patients, enabling physicians to better monitor progress of the disease. 

You were one of the laureates of CARTIER´S WOMEN’S INITIATIVE 2019, your business focuses on a blood test that detects the presence of circulating tumor cells (CTCs) in cancer patients, enabling physicians to better monitor progress of the disease. Where this idea come from? What was your motivation in this invention?

This company was born from the necessity to develop a continuous test that can give physicians the information they need to apply personalized therapy for their patients and monitor the effectiveness of treatments over time.
My co-founders and myself lived the misfortunes of poorly applied therapies to many of our relatives; this makes us realize that there was almost no way for oncologists and pathologists to evaluate the state and evolution of patients in a continuous way, leading to drug resistance development, metastasis, psychological and health-related issues, financial burdens for families and decrease the probability of survival.

When we realized that through the detection and analysis of the Circulating Tumor Cells, we could help doctors to monitor the effectiveness of treatments and help in the personalization of therapies, we decided we needed to do it. And we dedicated years of hard work to create a technology affordable, reliable and easy to use, to make it accessible to most people around the world.

What does it mean to you, to have participated in a business competition organized by a brand as prestigious as Cartier? Tell us more about your experience.

I feel honored to been chosen as a participant from Cartier, knowing there is a lot of talented woman in all Latin America. All CWIA experience was amazing, the commitment of the CWIA team to help us all the participants, was and is motivation to all of us. I cherish in my heart all efforts from the CWIA team and my fellow participants in CWIA, they made me feel that I am not alone, that we are not crazy for going against the status quo trying to make the world a better place.
The most valuable aspect of the CWIA is the whole mentoring experience, the CWIA really exceed themselves to find veterans/experience mentors in your industry, which give you all the insights you need to succeed and create a      world-class company.

Latin America is full of talented women that face a glass ceiling, you are from Mexico and you show that everything is possible, what message would you say to those women in our region?

Be passionate! Don’t give up, even if the scenario seems as if you are going against the current, always keep in mind your purpose.

Be frugal. It is said that we women are the best administrators in the family, translate that quality to your business, and more in these times of political changes in Latin-America. We need to be smart concerning the capital expenditure.

Be stubborn. Entrepreneurship is a marathon, not a race. Since it is a long journey, along the way, a lot of people may tell you, you won’t succeed, that you are the problem, or that it is impossible. Don’t listen to them, be stubborn and fight for your dream. And at the same time, be honest with yourself, if in your business you hit the bottom, you can always pivot.

Take care of yourself! As women, and as entrepreneurs, we used to only focus on the business, the clients, employees, suppliers and forgot about ourselves, our families and friends. Find balance, eat healthy and do exercise (at least try!), meditate, look out for family/friends when you feel troubled, don’t be afraid to ask for help and help whenever you can.

What are you going to do with the money prize you received?

Continue the clinical trials on prostate cancer patients and initiate clinical trials on breast cancer. And improve our marketing efforts to increase the sales of our line of research instrumentation.

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