Cartier honors Filipina working to help with student loans


A FILIPINA entrepreneur seized the opportunity and spoke at a rally for the Cartier Women’s Initiative at the National Gallery in Singapore on International Women’s Day on March 8.

Over the past 15 years, the Cartier Women’s Initiative has brought together a diverse community of 262 women impact entrepreneurs from 62 countries who are tackling a range of social and environmental issues. The Cartier Women’s Initiative is an annual international entrepreneurship program that aims to drive change by empowering impactful women entrepreneurs. Founded in 2006, the program is open to women-led and owned businesses from any country and sector that aim to have a strong and sustainable social and/or environmental impact. Cécile Naour, CEO of Cartier Southeast Asia and Oceania, said in a press conference broadcast online: “So far, 262 women from 62 countries from various sectors and regions have received more than 6 million aid dollars”.

“We strongly believe that empowering women makes the world better and better,” Ms. Naour said. “When women prosper, humanity prospers.”

Carmina Bayombong, CEO and Co-Founder of InvestEd, is the 2019 Laureate (Laureate) of the Southeast Asia and Oceania Regional Award and the 2021 First Runner-Up of the Cartier Women’s Initiative Opportunity Creation Impact Award. InvestEd helps fund higher education for students from low-income families in the Philippines.

She said her parents rose out of poverty by graduating from college and while in college saw their fellow students drop out due to lack of resources to continue their studies. “Higher education is such a powerful tool for success – but not everyone has access to it,” said Ms Bayombong, speaking from the Cartier Women’s Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai.

According to her profile on the Cartier Women’s Initiative page, “InvestEd uses its landmark invention, a data-driven success model, to predict and mitigate risks in a young person’s life. In addition to traditional factors, InvestEd considers things like the likelihood of teenage pregnancy, barriers to quick employment after graduation, and barriers to salary negotiation such as low self-esteem… The company assigns a success coach to help the student deal with risk factors, mitigating the exposures traditionally associated with student loans.

“This intervention, financial resource support as well as emotional and coaching support is so powerful in moving out and empowering…families out of poverty,” Ms. Bayombong said. According to her, 50% of their students are the first in their families to attend university. “The basis of our existence is the reduction of inequalities through the power of higher education.” After getting their first job after graduating with the help of InvestEd, the average income increase for students’ families was 117%, she said. “When we scale this thing, we’re actually going to be empowering entire communities and entire countries to move forward.”

Ms. Bayombong spoke about her experience joining the Cartier Women’s Initiative. “I had literally no expectation to get in,” she said, citing that 2,000 other companies applied to join in 2018. “My perception of myself as an entrepreneur before Cartier – I was just a very small female entrepreneur, in the Philippines.

“I realized that I could actually be an entrepreneur capable of building a global business. For me to realize that my potential was so great, I had to go through this program and be told by successful women entrepreneurs that I had this potential. I would never have believed it myself,” she said.

Meanwhile, Ms Naour said: “We are here – you, me, everyone here around the tables – to support these women, connect them and give them visibility.

“We will continue to connect women entrepreneurs to the right people, to the right organizations…and to support their individual journey and be part of a global community of positive change,” she said.

The next call for applications for the Cartier Women’s Initiative will open on May 16 and close on July 14 for the 2023 edition. — JLG


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