The Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards is the most prestigious international award for the most innovative women entrepreneurs, launched in 2006 by Cartier and the Women’s Forum, with the support of the INSEAD Management School and the McKinsey & Company consultancy. Six women entrepreneurs, one for each geographical region of the world, receive distinctions each year. The prize rewards entrepreneurs who share a common spirit – the desire to create better economic and social conditions. Their enterprises are founded on innovation, passion and generosity.
The 2014 prize winner is Carla Delfino (Italy), an ecological repellent to deter rodents, the Laureate for Europe, announced today at the Women’s forum for the economy and society in Deauville, France. Selected among over 1,000 candidates, her business demonstrated creativity, financial sustainability and social impact. The Laureates of the Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards are chosen by an independent and voluntary Jury composed of entrepreneurs and business leaders.
“The Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards recompense entrepreneurs whose spirit of community drives them to improve people’s lives and livelihoods. They deserve our recognition for the innovation, passion and generosity they bring to business,’ said Stanislas de Quercize, President & CEO, Cartier International.
Produces organic not-toxic repellents to control but not to kill pests.
Wherever there are humans, there are generally even more rodents below ground, prolific breeders who spread disease and chew through electric cables. When it comes to getting rid of them, solutions range from the murderous to the macabre: not only are they cruel and frequently ineffective, they’re generally toxic to pets and humans. ‘We tend to think that bio-repellent solutions that are safe for the environment will be too weak to work,’ says Carla Delfino, whose company, Imperial Europe, has come up with a harmless and effective solution. Its product, ScappaTopo – which means ‘runaway mouse’ in Italian – offers a non-toxic, environmentally friendly way to control rodents instead of killing them.
Carla is a seasoned entrepreneur who spent 20 years making a very different product: false bank note detectors. The idea for ScappaTopo came to her through a friend working with a telecom firm that had issues with rats and mice chewing cables. ‘They tried poison, but rodents become resistant to it,’ Carla explains, ‘In the US rats can get so big, they need to shoot them!’ Intrigued by this scenario – and despite a very real phobia of mice – Carla set about finding a solution to repel them rather than kill them.
She started researching traditional remedies, which took her on some interesting travels. ‘I visited native Americans to discover their remedies, such as peppermint, for example,’ she relates. ‘I studied Ancient Egypt and travelled to Hong Kong, spending days in a library.’ Back in Italy, Carla perfected her own patented formula and approached the University of Naples and La Sapienza University in Rome to test her prototypes on two varieties of mice: lab mice, which are meek and mild, and wild mice, ‘which are ferocious! Just catching them was so difficult!’
Special mazes were built and all the tests produced very positive results. The concept is simple and 100% organic: housed in a paper box, a pouch filled with the patented recipe, essential oils, natural elements and corncobs sends out strong multi-sensory and odorous signals that stress mice and dissuade them from approaching. ‘The micro-holes in the corncobs are perfect for storing the oils and releasing them slowly. For me the customer is not the human buying the product, it’s the mouse! The product must send out signals that alarm mice.’
Carla promptly proposed product trials to a pest management company and to ACEA, a major electricity firm in Rome; the latter completed their tests this May. ‘After three weeks of ScappaTopo, their cable boxes were clean – no droppings. Three months later, still none!’. ‘This is a revolution and we need to tell its story.’ She is eager to disrupt the rodent-repellent retail industry. ‘I want to see ScappaTopo in every pet shop, organic market, nautical store… I’m an entrepreneur, I know when I smell a good business!’