Cartier, the renowned French jeweler and watchmaker, recently announced the winners of the prestigious Cartier Women's Initiative Awards for 2010. Gouthami, co-founder of Travel Another India (TAI), was honoured as the Asian laureate for this, the fourth edition of the Awards. Fifteen finalists from various continents were nominated on the basis of their short business plans and were run through two rounds of judging by some of the world’s most eminent businesswomen. Among them, five Laureates, one for each continent, were selected to receive the Award on October 14, 2010.Travel Another India, a Responsible Tourism and rural development enterprise was considered a front runner thanks to its grassroots approach of working with ventures run by local village communities. This rural focus helps stem the tide of migration to urban cities while encouraging the local economy to develop. Ask an Indian villager if they would be willing to welcome tourists to their home and their answer will most likely be an emphatic Yes! But they would probably then ask you why tourists would bother to come. “They see the beauty around them every day,” says the dynamic women entrepreneur Gouthami, co-founder of Travel Another India, which promotes rural destinations to increasingly large numbers of frazzled Indian city-dwellers, “they don’t realise that urban dwellers are longing to rediscover the peace and quiet of the country breaks they used to have when they were kids.”
With over a 1000 powerful women from around the world at the Women’s Economic and Development Forum in Deauville, France where the CWIA was given, Gouthami declares, “It gave me a buzz just to be there. There were 15 of us finalists from five continents.” The other Asian finalists were Sookyoung Chae of REBLANK from South Korea who creates sustainable clothing and designs that give new life to used materials through upcycling; and Kyoungjae Lee of Sewing for the Soil also from South Korea, who provides complete eco-friendly wedding services and designs. Gouthami goes on to admit, “The other finalists were so inspiring!”
The jury comprising Deepa Chatrath, Regional Managing Director of Corum, Singapore; Keiko Honda, Partner, McKinsey & Co, Japan and Michelle Sassoon, COO of The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf (Singapore) Pte Ltd, were all clearly in agreement, describing the Asian finalists as “three young women with powerful ideas addressing critical needs”.
Gouthami attributes her success to her parents, family and friends as well as her business partner, The Catalyst Management Group. She also believes that it is the coaching she received during the submission process that really changed her business plan from a story into a hard-nosed viable action plan. As a winner, she receives a unique and comprehensive support package of US $20,000 of funding and one year of coaching. And while these are critical, “The award has given my country and my venture worldwide recognition, which is exactly what we need to reach our goal of 50 destinations by 2012,” signs off Gouthami.
About Travel Another India (www.travelanotherindia.com)
Travel Another India is in the business of providing a unique experience to discerning guests who are keen to explore another India... one that is rich in diversity of cultures, cuisines and comforts. TAI ensures that the hosts, who provide this experience, have a sustainable, alternative income option through responsible tourism. TAI helps village communities set up Responsible Tourism Ventures (RTV), by bringing in technical and financial resources, enabling them to reach out to guests, ensuring appropriate capacity building, facilitating learning across RTVs and identifying allied livelihoods that can be enhanced. TAI also helps sensitize guests on the need for Responsible Tourism and helps plan their travel experience.
TAI currently offers guests a home stay in Channapatna, Karnataka with a family that is involved in making wooden toys, a holiday package in Ladakh for guests using wheelchairs and a guest house run by the Village Tourism Development Committees in Pranpur, Madhya Pradesh and Banavasi, Karnataka. TAI is also a marketing channel for the Hodka Village Tourism Committee in Kutch, Turtle Bay Resort near Udupi, The Hermitage Guest House near Belgaum, Ecosphere in Spiti and Arco Iris in Goa.
About the Cartier Women's Initiative Awards (http://www.cartierwomensinitiative.com)
The Cartier Women's Initiative Award is an international business plan competition created in 2006 by Cartier, the Women's Forum, McKinsey & Company and INSEAD business school to identify, support and encourage projects by women entrepreneurs.
The mission of the Cartier Women's Initiative Awards is:
- To identify and support initial-phase women entrepreneurs through funding and coaching
- To foster the spirit of enterprise by celebrating role models in entrepreneurship
- To create an international network of women entrepreneurs and encourage peer networking
The annual competition involves two rounds:
Round 1 (in June) : The Jury selects fifteen Finalists, the top three projects of each region (Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, North America), on the basis of their short business plans. They receive coaching from experienced businesspeople to move to the next round. In 2010, they received 600 applications.
Round 2 (in October): The Finalists are invited to France for the final round of competition which includes submitting a detailed business plan and presenting their projects in front of the Jury. They are also invited to the Annual Global Meeting of the Women's Forum.
Based on the quality of the plan and the persuasiveness of the verbal presentation, one Laureate for each of the five regions is selected and receives a unique and comprehensive support package US $20,000 of funding and one year of coaching.
The competition is designed to give all participants an opportunity to gain perspective and confidence by stimulating cross-cultural exchanges.
The 2010 Laureates of the Cartier Women's Initiative Awards were announced on October 14, 2010 at the Annual Global Meeting of the Women's Forum for the Economy and Society in Deauville, France, after they successfully passed both rounds of the competition. Their detailed business plans and oral presentations were carefully evaluated by the Jury on the basis of three criteria: creativity, financial sustainability, social and environmental impact.
About Ms Gouthami
Ms Gouthami, Co-founder and CEO of Travel Another India, has 18 years of experience with international and national development agencies such as ActionAid, Concern Worldwide, Christian Aid, and Kutch Mahila Vikas Sangathan. At KMVS, she was part of the team that set up the Shaam-e-Sarhad Rural Resort in Hodka village, Kutch (www.hodka.in). She was a consultant with the UNDP for their Rural Tourism Project implemented with the support of the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, providing management support to three of their tourism projects. This gave her a deep understanding of the workings of the Ministry and helped connect her with the network of Rural Tourism ventures across India. She set up TAI in April 2009 and is involved full time with its operations. She is the laureate from Asia for the Cartier Women’s Initiative Award 2010.