It feels good when you see Indians being recognized for their work, especially when they are women. Two Indian women entrepreneurs will be among the 16 finalists from the Asia-Pacific region world to join in the prestigious Cartier Entrepreneurship Award ceremony in Singapore in April this year.
Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards
The Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards started in 2006, as a joint initiative by Cartier, the Women’s Forum, McKinsey & Company and INSEAD business school to encourage women entrepreneurs. Six women are honoured every year (one from each continent Asia & Pacific, Europe, Latin America, Middle East and North Africa, North America, Sub-saharan Africa) for their role in their start-up businesses. The prize includes a place on an INSEAD Executive Programme, a US$100,000 Grant (money), international media exposure and networking and coaching opportunities.
Two Indian nominations
Swati Pandey of Arboreal Agro Innovations and Kristin Kagetsu of Saathi Inc have been nominated this time for this prestigious award. Lets know more about these two young entrepreneurs:
Swati Pandey of Arboreal Agro Innovations:
Based in Delhi, she is the producer of high-yielding variety of Stevia sweetener, a 100% natural substitute for sugar. She initially conceived Arboreal as a social venture idea. Her idea was presented to an eminent jury at a programme at Imperial College London. Her idea impressed one professor so much that he invested in her idea and offered her a 7,000 USD cheque. As she always wanted to find a solution to type-2 diabetes, Swati followed her idea up with further market research and with her hard work and determination, her idea got transformed into a plant biotechnology company producing environmentally-friendly sweetener . Thus, came into existence Arboreal Agro Innovations in 2014. According to Swati, besides bringing a cure to diabetes, cultivation of stevia in India will not only save the country’s land and water resources but will also improve the livelihoods of farmers who can switch from sugarcane to stevia farming and earn more. In the next five years, the company plans to positively impact at least 5000 farmer families, save thousands of acres of land and remove 3.1 trillion calories from the global diet.
In the words of Swati, “I was driven by a sense of conviction that our generation must build upon the sacrifices of our parents, by taking up risks and building global ventures that will solve some of the biggest challenges facing India and the world.”
Kristin Kagetsu of Saathi Inc
Based in Ahmedabad, Kristin Kagetsu is chosen as a finalist of the 2018 Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards for her 100 per cent biodegradable sanitary napkins. Kristin holds a Mechanical Engineering degree from MIT. She is the co-founder of Saathi Inc, the company which is manufacturing sanitary napkins using waste banana tree fiber locally sourced from urban and rural India. Considering the fact that the conventional sanitary pads used by women in India is degrading the environment for its plastic and chemical content which when burnt, each pad releasing 23 grams of carbon dioxide in the process, she realised that its time for finding a solution for this problem. Thus came into incorporation Saathi pads in 2015, made from banana fibre, which is converted into a soft absorbing pad via a patent-pending fibre-processing technology. Kagetsu is working on ensuring access to the product across rural India.
In the words of Ms Kagetsu, “For the consumer there is a health benefit because it is a completely chemical-free process and we are using all-natural materials.“
Out of 2800 applicants from all across the globe, it is indeed a matter of pride that two Indian women have been chosen from the Asia Pacific Region with 14 others for this prestigious award. Their businesses have been selected for focussing on achieving economic, social and environmental value. Both of them have bagged USD 30,000 each for being nominated.