My guest today on Be Your Change podcast is Wingee Sampaio. She is the global director of the Cartier Women's Initiative. In February, they organized a breakfast in Boston to discuss how to design an ecosystem that empowers women as a force for good. The event brought together a panel of powerful women and attendees who are changing the funding narrative for women. Wingee Sampaio's role is to coach women social entrepreneurs in the early stages of their business to make sure they are driving social change and reaching their full potential. Cartier is one of the most successful luxury brands in the world, but it also happens to be one of the pioneers in supporting women's social entrepreneurs. Cartier Women's Initiatives is an international entrepreneurship program. It focuses on driving change in the world by empowering women social entrepreneurs. Listen to the episode

Wingee Sampaio, Head of Cartier Women’s Initiative

"A lot of accelerators are mainly focused on the business, accelerating a business idea. And for us, we're just trying to support women who are creating social change via leveraging business as a force for good."

How unique is Cartier's Women initiative's program to help women social entrepreneurs?

The Cartier Women Initiative is an international program with four main key pillars to support women's social entrepreneurs.

Cartier CEO for North America Mercedes Abramo, Cartier Women's Initiative Director Wingee Sampaio and thought leaders Hala Hanna, Susan Duffy and Emily Green on February 12th in Boston, MA. Speakers discussed how best to design ecosystems to empower women as a force for good. Photo courtesy of Cartier's Women Initiative

The International Program's Four Pillars

The Awards

Our awards basically is a ceremony that is around the world. It's a global initiative that we're moving on to different cities every year. And in this work, we are trying to activate the local ecosystem that is supporting women's social impact entrepreneurs. Every year we recognize the 21 women who applied to our program in the awards ceremony. Seven of these 21 women that get admitted to the program will receive a $100,000 grant from Cartier. The two runners up receive 30,000 from us. In addition to the sort of monetary financial support, they are of course getting human capital support and social capital support around the connection and the community.

The Fellowship Program

It's approximately a one-year-long program for the 21 woman entrepreneurs that we select from around the world across seven different regions that are leveraging business as a force for good. We help them with various human capital support. The second key pillars for that is executive leadership presence and how to speak to and inspire.

So many times, one has fantastic ideas in terms of how to create social change, but how to communicate that to a large audience, that may not look like them, or may not have the same beliefs at them is a specific skill set that we help them with.

Strategic Financial Thinking: We help women think about how to translate their business ideas into actual financials and the financial implications of all those decisions. And last but not least is around social impact.

So many women are launching businesses that are creating social change. But how do they think about how to measure that social impact and quantify at the progress of that impact?

The Community

Every year, we empower about 21 women. And so over the past 14 years, we now have about approximately 200 women from around the world in our alumni network. And creating sisterhood amongst these women, creating social change is really something very, very special to us. Entrepreneurship, in general, is a lonely road, and being a woman on social entrepreneurship is also a very lonely route.

So being able to connect all of these women globally is really, I would say one of the most special pieces of our program.

The most memorable or unique piece of the overall program is that we are creating a sisterhood both very beautiful and, and actually, very meaningful, in terms of emotional support for women going through these journeys.

Thought Leadership

every year, we create panels of speakers with thought leaders in their respective ecosystems to come together and talk about social entrepreneurship for women and woman leadership in social entrepreneurship. This is really important because there are just many ways for us to connect together and collaborate together. And this morning the breakfast you attended is the Boston boutique, this is exactly what we are trying to do: convene together with some thought leadership and then also create networks amongst the attendees.

????0%Type caption (optional)

Why 21 women?

Because we have seven regions and we were selecting three from each region.

Do you have the resources you need to execute on your vision for the program?

Yes. We are very fortunate. Our Ceo's vision is that we all have the responsibility to take action against the social change that we wanna see in the world. And so, he certainly has been very supportive of the initiative. He's one of the, he for she campaign, for young women. And, really, we're trying to walk the talk as a business on how to support more women. We get our inspiration from the woman entrepreneurs. That's part of our program internally is also tremendous, and I think an asset for the organization in terms of culture building and value alignment.

????0%Type caption (optional)Finalists 2020

Is Cartier Women Initiative An accelerator?

I would call us an international program. And the reason is a lot of accelerators are mainly focused on the business side and accelerating a business idea. And for us, we're just trying to support women social entrepreneurs who are creating social change via leveraging business as a force for good. Our fellowship program is actually much more about the woman. How do you create serial women social entrepreneurs is the main goal of the fellowship. However, we learn so much from other accelerator programs. I think accelerators are very effective, specifically in certain regions. They are split by industry, which enables a lot of specialized knowledge to be shared. Accelerator and incubator programs are great partners to collaborate with, as we mainly focus on women's social entrepreneurs' potential.

"I would call us more of an international program. And the reason why is how a lot of accelerators are mainly focused on the business, accelerating a business idea. And for us, we're just trying to support women social entrepreneurs who are creating social change via leveraging business as a force for good."

Type caption (optional)United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

How is Cartier looking into changing the culture?

There is a lot of talk in the world about the contribution of the fashion and luxury brands to waste and the negative impact it can have on the planet. So for sure, we are very conscious in sort of the business of Cartier itself in terms of jewelry production and watch production. And there's a lot of effort around that in ensuring that we are socially responsible and we practice corporate responsibility. Secondly, we recently signed a UN women empowerment principle. This is a set of principles to acknowledge businesses that are promoting gender equality. Are you referring to goal number five of gender equality of the 17 sustainable goals by the United Nations? Yeah. I would say for sure the Cartier Women's Initiative is sort of one expression of trying to be supportive of principle five.

The United Nations created 17 sustainable goals to achieve by the year 2030, and goal number five is achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls with disabilities.

????0%Type caption (optional)

How to design an ecosystem to empower women social entrepreneurs in creating social change?

Today the talk was really how to design an ecosystem to empower women social entrepreneurs in creating social change. I think that itself is a conversation, right? Our program contains components of financial capital support, social capital support, human capital support, which I think as you look at different programs out there, they also have these sorts of key elements. What else can we do to create more scale across those three categories? So that we are creating more social impact. This is one of the reasons why we are designing these series of talks, and we're hoping to have these kinds of conversations in the cities that we're in so that we can collaborate with all the local ecosystem partners and really think about how to be complementary and collaborative together.

How can we bring men into the discussion?

Yes, it is very important because at the heart of why we started the Cartier Women's Initiative is to create a sense of not just diversity but a sense of belonging for everyone. Cartier is actually the first time where I'm in a company where there's more women than men. So historically, in my career, it has always been more men than woman. And, all the male qualities I meet and I have met. I have never met more he For she than any other company I've ever worked in. And so for that, it is quite inspiring.

Create a sense of belonging for everyone.

We have men who are mentors to women, and especially investor mentors. And if we have a fellow who is fundraising, we certainly want to make sure she has a connection to men who are allocating capital as well as women. And also just some to have a sounding board as someone who is supportive specifically of women social entrepreneurs. It is really important to focus on the sense of belonging for everyone. Often times someone's perspective is not really just limited to gender or race. It is actually much more related to one's upbringing and where they grew up.

How do you support women's social entrepreneurs with mental health?

One really amazing and inspiring part of the Cartier initiative is the idea that all range of women is a part of the program. And so for example, in this upcoming cohort, the women social entrepreneurs range from 24 years old to 60 years old. And when I look into their background, they started their entrepreneurship journey at different points in their life. And oftentimes, we talk about how women have many different life events like becoming a mother or getting married. That really changes a woman's life trajectory, and oftentimes it's a negative for your career. However, these live events can actually also create opportunities to pursue social entrepreneurship. And I see from the program participants, oftentimes, they have created a business, as a result of becoming a mother. They have turned, what we call a side-preneur, so a side business into a full-time business. And so, it's really interesting actually as women, in these different life events, it actually enabled us to create opportunities for entrepreneurship. And, and I think this also creates flexibility of what you're describing with this family. And a more holistic picture of success.

I loved that you’ve pointed out the assumption of heroism in the male framework of entrepreneurialism. Earlier in my career, at least a century ago, that was the only model. If you wanted to figure out how to do it, you had to do as a hero. That was a solo journey, you go up, you climb the mountain. That’s really hard to begin with. Emily Green, All Raise

Why do you think women are more inclined or interested in making the world a better place?

I actually do not know why, but I could tell you about my experience from my own personal journey. I'm surrounded by other women social entrepreneurs and other social intrepreneurs and, I feel motivated to have the opportunity to connect purpose with my day to day work. That is a really powerful force of passion and motivation every day.

Women social entrepreneurs want to make a difference. They go into their ventures with the intention to do more than just fill the bottom line. At Babson College, we’re educating the next generation of founders to think of economic and social impact simultaneously, so that any business you build already build in this ability to go beyond profits and think about planet, people and everything. So it’s really the way the founders of the future will approach business, we can hope. Susan Duffy Center for Women's Entrepreneurial Leadership

Do you have any insights for the women who are thinking of applying to the Cartier Women's Initiative program?

I certainly would encourage everyone to apply if you fulfill the eligibility criteria. The criteria are that you have to be in business for less than five years and have one-year revenue to prove that you have some traction. It is important to not lose faith, you know, keep on prototyping on your business model to gain some traction to ensure that that you really have product-market fit around for the social solution that you're creating.

????0%Type caption (optional)

Key Takeaways

Stop Trying to Fix Women

A lot of what we are experiencing today in the world, from the COVID-19; to climate change is a result of an old paradigm of entrepreneurship that has created an unprecedented inequality. We have the rare opportunity to not go back to business as usual and design a new society that is led by women inclusive of everyone.

Please stop trying to fix women, please stop trying to telling us to be more bullish about our projections, defending more our business against critics, I’m sorry but the best way to grow is to hear the critics and discard what is shit and input what’s good. So we have to fix the system. I think it’s time for investors to make smarter business decisions Hala Hanna, managing director MIT SOLVE

Hala Hanna took part in the panel organized by Cartier Women's Initiative. She credited Michelle King for the phrase stop trying to fix women.

Women are figuring out

Despite the fact, women don't have much access to capital; they are figuring out.

Women are figuring it out. They are saying that, OK, if that slice of funding isn’t for me, I’m gonna find other ways to go. And from SheEO to Pipeline Angels to Golden Seeds to Victorius capital to Portfolia to whatever it might be across the continuum of funding opportunities, women are finding their way and they are also growing organically, very strategically, very smart, and they are using all the resources they can. Susan Duffy, executive director of CWEL

Go Deeper