Cartier Women's Initiative Awards

Cartier award to support women entrepreneurs held here

Naireeta Services founder Trupti Jain receiving her award from Cartier chief executive Cyrille Vigneron (left) and Insead dean Ilian Mihov at the Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall.
Naireeta Services founder Trupti Jain receiving her award from Cartier chief executive Cyrille Vigneron (left) and Insead dean Ilian Mihov at the Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall.PHOTO: CARTIER

Engineer Trupti Jain provides farms with water management systems, but only if women are in charge

In what must seem like a past life, environmental engineer Trupti Jain was a frustrated government employee in India, having worked for two decades in the challenging sector of rural development.

Her biggest gripe at the time? Seeing the work of women farmers - who make up 80 per cent of the agricultural workforce, but own only about 2 per cent of the land - frequently go unrecognised.

Wanting to find a way to bring women to the forefront, the 46-year-old decided to start her own business and launched Naireeta Services in 2013, providing handmade water management solutions that enable small farmers to filter and store rainwater underground to protect them against droughts and flash floods.

The catch? The management of these water systems is always assigned to a woman farmer - indirectly empowering them in the management of their farmland.

The company, based in Gujarat, has already implemented 232 such systems in India, which have directly benefited 18,000 small farmers and indirectly benefited more than 100,000 of the rural poor.

On Wednesday night, Ms Jain's hard work was rewarded when she was announced as the Asia-Pacific laureate of this year's Cartier Women's Initiative Awards, held at the Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall in Singapore. This was the first time the awards were held outside France.

The awards, which began in 2006 and were created in partnership with Insead business school and management consulting firm McKinsey & Co, are an international business plan competition that supports women entrepreneurs around the world who want to kick-start their businesses.

Mr Cyrille Vigneron, chief executive of Cartier International, said of the awards: "We recognise the gender gap that still exists today and, for us, the awards are a chance to recognise and reward the work of women entrepreneurs who have created businesses that are real drivers of change in their communities."

Five other winners, representing Latin America, North America, Europe, Sub-Saharan Africa, and the Middle East and North Africa, were also honoured at the awards ceremony. Each walks away with a US$100,000 (S$139,700) prize as well as a year of mentoring and a place in an Insead Executive Programme.

The winners were chosen from a pool of nearly 1,900 applicants from more than 120 countries and were selected by an independent international jury.

Ms Jain, who is married, said of her win: "I didn't expect it, but I am so proud of what my team has achieved and I am happy I was so determined to reach my goal. I hope to use the prize money to scale up the business as well as create a certification programme for women, so their skills and indigenous knowledge will be recognised."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 15, 2017, with the headline 'Empowering women farmers in India'. Print Edition | Subscribe