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  • Thursday, February 21, 2019 11:35 AM | OWIT-Toronto (Administrator)

    Business Women’s Trade Mission to Monterrey, Mexico,

    Huge Success

    TORONTO, ON – A group of 11 Canadian business women representing multiple industries who participated in a trade mission to Monterrey, Mexico, this month returned to Canada with some immediate business and leads.  Spearheaded by the Toronto chapter of the Organization of Women in International Trade (OWIT-Toronto), the mission provided opportunities for female business owners and professionals to export and expand globally, as well as to showcase the contribution of women in international trade, in historically male-dominated industry sectors, in both Mexico and Canada.

    “This was one of the best organized trade missions I have ever experienced because it was all about entrepreneurs,” said Myrna Bittner, CEO and Founder, RUNWITHIT Synthetics.  “This mission’s spirit was to make things happen, to connect people, to progress things, and was not just political or diplomatic.  I gained amazing contacts that would have taken me a long time to find and I had incredible meetings. I might go back to Mexico next month.”

    Participants’ sectors included auto-manufacturing, IT, education, transportation, legal, international trade services and government. Coordinated by OWIT- Toronto Co-President Alma Farias, the initiative was facilitated by the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service from Monterrey’s Canadian Consulate, in cooperation with the OWIT- Monterrey Chapter, the Ministry of Economy and Labour of the State of Nuevo Leon, and the Cluster TIC Nuevo Leon .

    “The trade mission led to a better understanding of the business potential for Canadian companies and has already resulted in business for some,” says Farias.  “It also inspired local amazing women entrepreneurs who now are planning a potential Mexican women trade mission to Toronto next year.  I am so proud that OWIT-Toronto has fostered a two-way inclusive trade deal with Mexico in this special year when both countries celebrate 75 years of bilateral relations.  And it could not have happened without the collaboration of our Canadian and Mexican partners.”

    Activities kicked off with a networking breakfast hosted by OWIT- Monterrey with guest speaker Rhonda Barnet, Immediate Past- Chair of Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME), and the first female Chair in the CME’s history. “We were able to showcase what Canada is doing to increase female participation in manufacturing through the excellent presentation done by Rhonda on the CME- program  #WE CanDoIt,” notes Farias.

    Individual business-to-business meetings were held with potential customers, suppliers and business partners.  Delegates also participated in conferences and meetings with local industry clusters, government and educational organizations, tours of various research and development facilities, and a visit to the Expo Manufactura trade show.  An evening reception held later in the week was hosted by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce-Monterrey and Canadian Consulate with more than 100 local business people in attendance.

    “This trade mission was beyond everyone’s expectations and I’m convinced good things will come from it, “said Lyse Moreau, President and CEO, International Sew Right Co, a manufacturer of safety clothing. “I have already landed an order from the last meeting I had. I found everyone I met very proactive, and the trade show we attended was fantastic, with surprisingly good response.”

    The trade mission was the first initiative after an MOU was signed by the OWIT-Toronto and OWIT-Monterrey chapters in March, 2017 in the presence of the Canadian Minister of International Trade and the Consul General of Canada in Monterrey. Supporters of the trade mission included EDC, Global Affairs Canada, Bennett Jones and the Ontario government.


    About OWIT

    OWIT-Toronto (The Organization of Women in International Trade-Toronto) (www.owit-toronto.ca) is part of an international non-profit professional organization with chapters around the world (www.owit.org), dedicated to advancing global trade opportunities for women. 


  • Friday, February 01, 2019 4:56 PM | OWIT-Toronto (Administrator)

    Media Contact:

    Alma Farias


    alma.farias@tradepartners.ca www.owit-toronto.ca



    TORONTO, ON - Ten Canadian businesswomen from manufacturing, IT, service, education and government sectors will be travelling to Monterrey, Mexico for a week-long, unique trade mission the first week of February to explore business opportunities. Spearheaded by the Organization of Women in International Trade-Toronto (OWIT-Toronto), the mission is designed to encourage female business owners, professionals, executives and service providers to export and expand globally. It also seeks to showcase the contribution of women in international trade and women in some male-dominated sectors.

    “After the successful conclusion of the NAFTA negotiation process and a Canada-US-Mexico agreement was reached last year, this is a timely initiative that will assist early stage and growth-oriented manufacturing and service provider companies in getting an inside perspective on supply chain opportunities,” says Alma Farias, Co-President of OWIT-Toronto, who is leading the mission for OWIT-Toronto.

    Participants will receive a full program of meetings with representatives of clusters, industry executives and government officials who are instrumental in the business community, in addition to customized one-on-one meetings with prospective customers and business partners, a visit to the Expo Manufactura trade show, and a number of quality networking events. Rhonda Barnet, Immediate Past Chair of Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME), and the first female Chair in the CME’s history, will be a guest speaker.

    The trade mission is the culmination of a collaboration agreement signed between the OWIT-Toronto and OWIT-Monterrey chapters in March 2017 in the presence of then Minister of International Trade of Canada, Francois-Philippe Champagne and the Consul General of Canada in Monterrey at the time, Bez Babakhani. “OWIT is pleased to be leading the mission because both chapters signed this agreement with a determination to follow with actions and results,” adds Farias.

    Supporters of the trade mission include Export Development Canada, Global Affairs Canada, Bennett Jones and the Ontario government.


    About OWIT

    OWIT-Toronto (The Organization of Women in International Trade-Toronto) (www.owit-toronto.ca) is part of an international non-profit professional organization with chapters around the world (www.owit.org), dedicated to advancing global trade opportunities for women.

  • Monday, June 18, 2018 12:01 PM | OWIT-Toronto (Administrator)


    OWIT-Toronto is increasingly being invited to give input on free trade agreements. Most recently, in May, some members participated in a joint Global Affairs Canada and OWIT Roundtable for Women Entrepreneurs with Canada’s Ambassadors to Chile, Colombia, Peru and Mexico on opportunities in the Pacific Alliance. Moderated by OWIT-Toronto President Anita Agrawal, the roundtable featured overviews from Patricia Peña (Ambassador of Canada to Chile), Marcel Lebleu (Ambassador of Canada to Colombia), Gwyn Kutz (Ambassador of Canada to Peru and Bolivia) and Pierre Alarie (Ambassador of Canada to Mexico).

    The Pacific Alliance is a regional initiative created in 2011 by Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru that seeks the free movement of goods, services, capital and people. As one of the first countries invited to become an Associated State of the Pacific Alliance, Canada is currently negotiating a free trade agreement with Alliance members as a bloc. Canada has comprehensive free trade agreements with all four Pacific Alliance members individually.

    The women-owned business attendees at the roundtable gave their input on what is needed to facilitate trade with the Pacific Alliance countries and posed specific questions about opportunities and challenges.

  • Monday, June 18, 2018 11:57 AM | OWIT-Toronto (Administrator)

    OWIT-Toronto  recently partnered with the Belgian Canadian Business Chamber (BCBC) for a joint event on CETA, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement with the European Union. Our President, Anita Agrawal, was among four panelists who, together, gave an excellent overview of CETA.  Owner of Best Bargains Jewellery and an exporter to over 20 countries, including those in Europe, Anita provided practical tips on how to sell abroad. These include:  hire a student to help do your research, access Canada’s Trade Commissioner Service for additional help, participate in trade missions,  attend chamber of commerce meetings to pick up tips, meet new contacts and find out about available government support, and visit the EU to start building relationships.


    The session was moderated by Christian Frayssignes, VP,  BCBC. Other panelists covered the benefits for Canadian companies brought in by CETA, which is a very progressive agreement (Andrew Defor, VP, Canadian International Council, TO Branch),  the government procurement chapter in CETA (Pasquale  Madonna, Sr Consultant, Trade & Customs, KPMG), the support available to Ontario exporters from the government (Romi Jaszczynski , Sr Export Advisor, Ontario Ministry of International Trade), and an overview of the Belgian market (Andre van der Heyden, VP & COO, BCBC).

    This was an information-packed event.  Don’t miss out on future ones!

  • Monday, January 22, 2018 5:44 PM | OWIT-Toronto (Administrator)

    TORONTO, ON – The Organization of Women in International Trade (OWIT) welcomes the recent announcement of two new initiatives to strengthen Canada’s approach to responsible business conduct for Canadian companies doing business and operating abroad, which aim to set a new global standard for Corporate Social Responsibility.  

    The first is the creation of an independent Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise (CORE), the first of its kind in the world. The CORE will be mandated to investigate allegations of human rights abuses linked to Canadian corporate activity abroad. The CORE will seek to assist wherever possible in collaboratively resolving disputes or conflicts between impacted communities and Canadian companies. It will be empowered to independently investigate, report, recommend remedy and monitor its implementation. The CORE’s scope will be multi-sectoral, initially focusing on the mining, oil and gas, and garment sectors, with the expectation to expand to other business sectors within a year of the Ombudsperson taking office. The second is the creation of a multi-stakeholder Advisory Body to advise the Government and the CORE on responsible business conduct abroad.

    “Canada’s leadership in strengthening responsible business conduct abroad reflects the values supported by Canada’s progressive trade agenda where all parties should benefit from economic development, and contributes to Canada’s reputation as an international business partner of choice,” said François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of International Trade, who made the announcement.

    “As supporters of Canada’s progressive trade agenda, OWIT is pleased to see Canada taking this leadership role in promoting responsible business conduct abroad,” says Susan Baka, VP-International, OWIT-Toronto.  “We have been providing input through various government channels on making trade more inclusive for more people and welcome these initiatives that further broaden Canada’s approach to inclusive trade and emphasize respect for human rights worldwide.”

    “The fact that this was worked on with different stakeholders including the Canadian Labour Congress is very positive, showing great support for this and demonstrating where the government is going on trade,” adds Tamaika Jumelle, VP, OWIT-Ottawa, who represented OWIT at the announcement in Ottawa, along with VP Ainsley Butler. “By setting new standards, this positions Canada to lead on progressive trade issues and also benefits societies and countries where Canadians do business.

  • Thursday, October 12, 2017 7:22 PM | OWIT-Toronto (Administrator)

    Board members of OWIT-Toronto have been busy over the summer and into the fall, representing the interests and concerns of members and women in trade.  OWIT is increasingly being consulted for input on global trade issues and international trade agreements, including NAFTA and the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) And we’ve been speaking at trade events, from Toronto to Ottawa to Geneva, with more invitations coming up. Here is a snapshot:

    • VP-International Susan Baka represented OWIT at a NAFTA stakeholder consultation roundtable with women’s business organizations this summer prior to the start of the renegotiations.  She presented member concerns related to labour mobility, border procedures and gender. Stakeholders continue to be updated after each round of talks.  Canada is pushing for the inclusion of a gender chapter in an updated NAFTA.
    • On behalf of OWIT, Past President Alma Farias, along with OWIT Ottawa board member Ainsley Butler, appeared before the House of Commons International Trade Committee in Ottawa on Oct 2, to present more input on the NAFTA renegotiation and modernization.  This covered improving access for SMEs, simplifying customs procedures, facilitating cross-border business travel and incorporating gender rights and capacity-building initiatives.  Appearing before the Committee on behalf of UPS Canada, its VP, Public Affairs Aylin Lusi, also an OWIT-Toronto board member, included OWIT in her comments.  She referred to UPS’s outreach efforts to educate small businesses and entrepreneurs on the potential of international trade agreements for their business, and cited OWIT as an organization it supports both in Canada and internationally as an important additional avenue to connect women in business to the new business horizons brought by international trade agreements.  
    • Several OWIT members, including President Anita Agrawal, VP-Finance Maria Marchyshyn, Past President Alma Farias and member CJ Scott , met with the Executive Director of the International Trade Centre, Arancha Gonzalez, during her recent visit to Toronto.  Gonzalez is a passionate promoter of inclusive trade on the world stage.  And ITC’s She Trades initiative aims to connect one million women to global markets by 2020 through its mobile app.
    • OWIT was also represented at the World Trade Organization Public Forum in Geneva at the end of September.  Susan Baka presented the perspective of a small business exporter on a panel addressing Progressive Approaches to Public Participation in Trade Policy, organized by the Centre for International Governance Innovation and moderated by Canada’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the WTO, Stephen de Boer.  She highlighted the importance of networks like OWIT as conduits for government to get input on trade policies and better understand gender barriers.  She also emphasized the importance of humanizing trade to counteract increasing anti-trade and protectionist sentiments in the world. Baka represented OWIT on another panel organized by OWIT-Lake Geneva on the Hidden Faces of Trade, sharing how OWIT contributes to unleashing the potential of its members and the hidden faces of women in trade around the world.
    • Anita Agrawal and Maria Marchyshyn will soon meet with representatives of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC – a consultative body of the European Union representing civil society) to discuss how we envisage the implementation and civil society involvement in the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade agreement (CETA).
    Later this month, OWIT is invited to speak at a Vietnam Business Forum in Toronto on services we provide to Canadian exporters, as a precursor to the upcoming Premier’s business mission to Vietnam and ChinaJulie Nguyen, Director of the Canada Vietnam Trade Council and OWIT’s VP-Educational Partnerships, will be part of the mission in Vietnam.   

  • Tuesday, August 08, 2017 1:12 AM | OWIT-Toronto (Administrator)

    OWIT-Toronto aims to participate in the Premier’s mission to Vietnam and China in an effort to develop deeper connections in international trade in Asia and to expand the options for women in business to look beyond Canada to bolster their company prospects and revenues.

    The mission to Vietnam and China, countries with growing economies and key robust industries, will take place from November 26 to December 6, 2017. This will be Premier Wynne’s third mission to China, building on previous trips in 2014 and 2015.

    The mission will focus on cultivating economic relationships and sourcing business development opportunities in medical technology, science and technology, agriculture and food in China (November 26 to December 1), and a more general business program in Vietnam (December 3 to 6).

    The cost to take part will vary depending on the preferred country. The combined expense for choosing Vietnam and China will be $2,250; whereas, participating in the Vietnam portion alone will be $750, and selecting only China will be $1,500. The price does not include international flights and other travel-related fees.

    OWIT-Toronto members and community stakeholders not actively involved in medical technology, science and technology, agriculture and food companies should still consider applying for a place on the mission to Asia, as long as they have initiated business development in Vietnam or China and are keen to bolster their knowledge and business dealings in the countries.

    For more details about the mission, the application process and the business potential in Asia, please visit: https://ontariogovernmentmissions.ca/chinavietnam

  • Monday, June 05, 2017 8:00 AM | OWIT-Toronto (Administrator)

    “All Canadians and Chileans will undoubtedly welcome the modernization of this agreement, particularly the dedicated chapter on trade and gender, which reinforces the Government of Canada’s commitment to advancing gender equality and to creating real opportunity for the middle class, especially women and the girls who will be the next generation of entrepreneurs, board members and CEOs. This is how we advance our progressive trade agenda in the world and how we make trade real for Canadian workers and their families.” 

    -  François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of International Trade

    Canada took another step toward gender equality today as the Honourable Francois-Philippe Champagne, Minister of International Trade, announced the addition of a chapter on trade and gender to modernize the 20-year-old Canada-Chile Free Trade Agreement—the first of its kind for any G20 country. Read more 

  • Thursday, May 04, 2017 11:37 AM | OWIT-Toronto (Administrator)

    OWIT International Spring Newsletter 2017

    1. Coming to Washington? OWIT's Spring Board Meeting

    2. Congratulations to 2016 OWIT Award Winners

    3. Faces of Trade Campaign for International Women's Day

    4. Calling All Small Businesses: New Sponsorship Opportunities

    5. Welcoming New Alliances with WEGG, EXIM Bank and Vital Voices 

    6. Resources for Chapters: Professional Support & Videoconferencing

    7. New Recordings and Upcoming Webinars

    8. OWIT Around the Globe

    Download your copy here.

  • Monday, April 17, 2017 11:41 PM | OWIT-Toronto (Administrator)

    In an effort to bolster international business between the countries, OWIT’s Toronto and Monterrey chapters signed a letter of intent pledging to collaborate on seminars and trade missions. This comes at a pivotal time for international trade relations, as global protectionist sentiment is on the rise and U.S.-promised revisions to NAFTA are inevitable.  

    At the March 17 signing ceremony in Monterrey, the OWIT chapters pledged to: 

    • Undertake dialogue to identify industry sectors with good potential for mutual international business;
    • Explore promotional activities; and 
    • Exchange information among members to boost relationship-building and networking

    The joint declaration of collaboration was signed by Alma Farias, OWIT-Toronto director and board member, and Carolina Leal Montemayor, OWIT-Monterrey chapter president. Following the ceremony, OWIT-Monterrey, CAINTRA (a Mexican association in the commercial, manufacturing and service sectors), and the Government of the State of Nuevo Representatives indicated they would play a role in organizing an OWIT Trade Mission to Monterrey. 

    “Nuevo Leon is the most industrial, commercial and prosperous state in Mexico after Mexico City,” Farias said.The three organizations agreed to provide “on-the-ground support and business-to-business contacts to Canadian delegates looking for distributors, JV partners or suppliers,” Farias said. She added the Canadian Consulate in Monterrey also offered the facilities at the consulate for video conferences with OWIT members on market-entry best practices.

    Canadian Minister of International Trade, François-Philippe Champagne, and Consul General of Canada in Monterrey, Bez Babakhani, also attended the event last month. While on a tour in Mexico, Minister Champagne chaired a roundtable organized by Global Affairs Canada on behalf of OWIT and women entrepreneurs.

    The roundtable was an “excellent forum” for local business-owners to share their stories and ideas encouraging women’s participation and inclusion in business, Farias noted. She highlighted the importance of the service sector in which women have a strong presence, and noted the growth of this sector in Canada and further opportunities for collaboration.  

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