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  • Tuesday, March 02, 2021 9:46 AM | Anonymous

    This is a gentle reminder to all of our OWIT-Toronto members to update and refresh your profile.  You can get access via your log-in at the top right hand side of the home page.  Your profile will be included in our Members Directory, which is accessible only to other OWIT-Toronto members.  A photo will greatly enhance your profile.

    Contact us at info@owit-toronto.ca if you have any questions or need assistance.

    Helen Hemmingsen, President

  • Tuesday, January 26, 2021 1:58 PM | Anonymous

    What is your Key Advice To Small Business Owners For 2021?

    This past year has been an incredibly challenging time for small businesses, which have faced the pandemic with extraordinary resilience, innovation, and recognition that above all, we must all prioritize the health and safety of those around us. With the vaccine rollout, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

    From the beginning, our government committed to doing everything it takes to support small businesses and entrepreneurs until we defeat the virus. I encourage eligible businesses to continue using support programs available to them– like the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, Canada Emergency Business Account, and the new Canada Emergency Rent Support – all of which are critical in enabling our businesses and economy to weather the storm and prepare for a quick and full recovery.

    Looking further ahead, we know that advancing digital trade and e-commerce is one of the best ways we can support our businesses, introduce them to more customers domestically and internationally, and help them bounce back.

    In addition, our government is also focused on creating and expanding programs and resources that help more entrepreneurs see themselves as traders globally and bring their innovative Canadian products and services far and wide. We are taking a Team Canada approach to this and ensuring all businesses have access to our Trade Toolbox: Canada’s Trade Commissioner Service, Export Development Canada, the Business Development Bank of Canada, the Canadian Commercial Corporation – all of which are there to help Canadian businesses continue to succeed internationally.

    We cannot do this alone. To all the business owners and entrepreneurs who have stepped up to support our communities in one of the most difficult periods in modern history – thank you. Know that you can count on us to continue providing crucial supports to get you through this pandemic and be well-positioned for future success.

    See the original article here.

  • Tuesday, January 19, 2021 10:48 AM | Anonymous


    EDC is organizing a webinar series on exploring opportunities in Mexico, and first session "Doing business in the agri-food sector in Mexico" was a success!

    If you are interested in the market and missed the first part of the series:

    Here is the recording of the event for a limited period of time.

    Here is the presentation of the event.


    The second session of the series "Overview of Food Labelling Requirements in Mexico for Retail Sale" was held on 21 January 2020, Thursday.

    Here is the recording of the event for a limited period of time.

    Here is the presentation of the event.


    You can also register for the third session here.

  • Thursday, January 14, 2021 9:11 AM | Anonymous

    Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a cabinet shuffle Tuesday that changed the leadership of senior portfolios such as Global Affairs and Transport and announced that minister Navdeep Bains is leaving federal politics.

    The move will add fuel to speculation that the Liberal government is seriously considering the possibility of a spring election, even though the party was re-elected with a minority mandate a little over a year ago.

    François-Philippe Champagne will move from Global Affairs in order to replace Mr. Bains as head of Innovation, Science and Economic Development. Marc Garneau is being moved from Transport to Global Affairs.

    Mississauga Centre Liberal MP Omar Alghabra is being promoted into cabinet to replace Mr. Garneau at Transport and Jim Carr returns to cabinet as a minister without a department while continuing in his role as special representative for the prairies. Mr. Carr had left cabinet following the 2019 election due to a cancer diagnosis.

    A senior government insider said the shuffle was triggered by Mr. Bains’ decision to step down from his position as Innovation Minister and leave federal politics. The insider said the Prime Minister was taken aback by Mr. Bains’ decision. Mr. Bains told Mr. Trudeau that his wife wanted to get back to work and he wanted to spend more time with his daughters who are becoming teenagers. He told Mr. Trudeau it was time to give back to his family, the insider said.

    See full article on the Globe and Mail website.

  • Thursday, December 03, 2020 2:48 PM | Anonymous


    Christine Nakamura, Vice President, Toronto, Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada, is this year’s recipient of the JoAnna Townsend Excellence Award for Leadership in International Trade, presented at the Organization of Women in International Trade (OWIT) – Toronto 16th Annual Awards Gala, held virtually on November 25, 2020. The award recognizes an outstanding woman in Ontario who, through her business and personal networks, creates opportunities to actively support Canadian women-owned businesses in expanding globally and succeeding in the international marketplace. OWIT-Toronto launched the award several years ago in memory of JoAnna Townsend with the Canadian government - a trailblazing champion of women exporters who died in 2004 after a courageous battle with cancer.

    Nakamura’s responsibilities at the foundation include facilitating trade, political, academic, and cultural engagements with Asia.  She is currently on a mission to pave the way for new markets for Canadian women entrepreneurs, including a virtual trade mission to South Korea that she recently organized.

    “I am deeply humbled and honoured to receive this prestigious award, said Nakamura. “I must say that the trade mission series dedicated to women-owned and women-led businesses which led me to receive the award could not have been launched without the hard work of my project team, and the support and encouragement of our sponsors, many individuals, and members of our foundation board and Asia Business Leaders Advisory Council.”

    Diane Reko, CEO of Reko International Group, and Janet Stewart, CEO of WeLoveLearning Canada tied for Woman Exporter of the Year.  Reko, whose company exports robotic automation solutions, tooling, and machined components mainly to the US and Mexico, is a pillar in the Windsor manufacturing community. She serves as a strong mentor for females in manufacturing.

    Janet Stewart, CEO of WeLoveLearning which designs online learning solutions across all types of devices, has secured clients in Jamaica, the US and Mexico and is working on both UN sponsored projects as well as those being led by the Commonwealth Technology Organization, the Commonwealth Business Women’s Network and the Kenya Diaspora Alliance.

    Winner of the Student of the Year Award is Rachel Zlatar of McMaster University who has built a technology-based social enterprise providing a digital presence to street vendors and micro-enterprises in tourism hubs across Latin America.

    Other highlights of the Awards evening included congratulatory greetings from Canada’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Chrystia Freeland, and from Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade. According to Minister Freeland, “As we work hard to recover from the damage Covid has done to our economy, we are going to need rules-based international trade more than ever, and we are going to need great Canadian leaders like some of the women who are being honoured by OWIT.” Minister Ng also congratulated OWIT-Toronto women for their efforts in empowering women in trade and said “We all know that when women are involved in trade everyone benefits. By including women in our economy, we have the potential to add $150 billion to the Canadian economy.”

    Another highlight of the awards night was the participation of our sister chapter president, Anca Sattler, of OWIT-Ottawa.

    The 16th Annual Export Awards Program was sponsored by the Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub, EDC, BMO, UPS Canada, Jewels4Ever and the City of Toronto.

    You can see the video recording of the event here.

    About OWIT

    The Organization of Women in International Trade (OWIT) is an international non-profit professional organization, with chapters around the world (www.owit.org) , dedicated to advancing global trade opportunities for women. There are two active Canadian chapters: Toronto (www.owit-toronto.ca) and Ottawa (www.owit-ottawa.ca).

  • Tuesday, November 24, 2020 8:32 PM | Anonymous

    OWIT-Toronto is partnering with Toronto Business Development Centre (TBDC) to foster women entrepreneurship, empowerment and advancement in international trade. The partnership seeks to leverage existing resources, expertise and capabilities to nurture women-led businesses to grow and tap into domestic, regional and international business opportunities.

    TBDC was established in 1990 by the City of Toronto with support from the Ministry of Economic Development of Trade in Ontario, as one of the designated Canadian business incubators under the Start-up Visa Program. TBDC has been locally, nationally and internationally recognized for its efforts in nurturing the growth of new and emerging businesses in the Greater Toronto Area. It has also been acclaimed as one of Canada’s leading business incubators in fostering an entrepreneurial community, providing business support and establishing investor relations. TBDC has helped over 9000+ start-ups (domestic and international) over the years.

    As part of the OWIT-Toronto and TBDC partnership, TBDC will be offering business advisory services on a case-by-case need-basis to OWIT-Toronto members. TBDC will also offer educational information sessions including market briefings and intelligence reports about international markets as well as a facilitation to related networks.

    Neha Bahl, Executive Director and President of TBDC warmly welcomed this collaboration. “TBDC's mandate is supporting businesses that contribute to advancing career opportunities and empowerment for women. OWIT-Toronto is an important organization that creates opportunities for women to develop their leadership skills and visibility, and we are very proud to collaborate and foster women entrepreneurship,” she noted.

    Helen Hemmingsen, President of OWIT-Toronto expressed pleasure to work in partnership with TBDC. “We are very pleased to partner with TBDC to support and advance women entrepreneurship and participation in international trade. Through OWIT-Toronto, TBDC’s Start-up Visa women entrepreneurs and clients will be able to have a soft-landing pad to develop and take their businesses global utilizing OWIT-Toronto’s global networks, resources and export education,” Helen said. “Likewise, OWIT-Toronto members will have the opportunity to seek insights from TBDC’s international clients and acquire knowledge on the dynamism of doing business in respective international markets.”

    The strategic partnership between OWIT-Toronto and TBDC is quite timely and beneficial especially now that the COVID- 19 pandemic has put women’s entrepreneurship at a greater risk. Collaborating with like-minded organizations that foster women’s entrepreneurship creates pathways to navigate the crisis for both OWIT-Toronto’s members and TBDC’s clients. The partnership provides for information sharing, best practices and lessons learned which are crucial for businesses to pivot, stay the course and expand in domestic and international markets.

  • Tuesday, November 10, 2020 8:28 AM | Anonymous

    Members of our Trade Policy Committee and Board have been busy after receiving a number of invitations from the federal government to provide input as stakeholders on gender and trade policy, on Investment facilitation and on feminist foreign policy. Here is where OWIT-Toronto is participating:

    Gender and Trade Advisory Group. The Group has been created to play a pivotal role in advancing important conversations on trade and gender by engaging Canadians from all sectors and regions across Canada. This initiative aims to provide a forum for government and experts to hear from women-owned businesses on their challenges, concerns, and successes; receive feedback on our Trade and Gender chapter provisions for trade agreements and other trade policy issues; and build knowledge and capacity of the Gender and Trade Advisory Group members on trade policy. The plan is also to establish a sub-group that focuses on Gender Based Analysis of Free Trade Agreements (FTAs).

    The inaugural meeting took place on October 28. Trade Policy Committee Co-Chair Susan Baka expressed the hope that that gender chapters included in FTAs, although certainly a good step, should move beyond being just aspirational in nature and next include clear measurements.

    World Trade Organization (WTO) framework on investment facilitation: VP Partnerships Justine Namara and Trade Policy Committee Co-Chair Maria Marchyshyn prepared a very comprehensive OWIT- Toronto submission on a potential World Trade Organization (WTO) framework on investment facilitation. A group of WTO Members, including Canada, is holding discussions on a WTO framework for development to improve the transparency and predictability of investment measures; streamline and speed up administrative procedures and requirements; and enhance international cooperation and stakeholder relations.

    Canada launched public consultations to hear from a broad range of partners, stakeholders, and individual Canadians to help define Canada’s priorities and inform future decisions on a potential WTO framework, particularly in areas of creating a more efficient, predictable, and investment-friendly business climate. By getting rid of unnecessary "red tape", it will be easier for businesses, particularly SMEs, to grow and to create good jobs for Canadians. The information gained from the public consultations will help inform Canada’s approach to the development of the framework. It is anticipated that formal WTO negotiations on the framework will begin in the coming months. The negotiations will not address market access, investment protection, or investor-state dispute settlement.

    OWIT-TO’s submission addressed investment barriers and particular challenges faced by SMEs abroad, along with recommendations for a WTO framework.

    North American SME Counseling Network Pilot Program: OWIT-TO has accepted an invitation to be part of this trilateral Canada-U.S.-Mexico initiative to establish a network of small and medium sized enterprise (SME) counselling organizations for a pilot program. The objective of te program is to connect SME counselling groups operating in North America to facilitate the exchange of information and best practices, as well as engage in joint activities with the ultimate aim of building a peer network.

    This initiative is one of the first activities proposed under the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA) Committee on SME issues, which is tasked with promoting increased trade and investment opportunities for SMEs, including through cooperation on support initiatives, joint activities to promote SMEs owned by under-represented groups, and the exchange of information and best practices.

    Dialogue on Canada’s Feminist Foreign Policy White Paper. Over the last four years, the Canadian Government has made advancing diversity and inclusion, including gender equality and women’s empowerment, vital elements of its domestic and foreign policies.  In this context, it has been applying a feminist approach across its international policy, advocacy and program efforts, including in diplomacy, trade, security, international assistance and consular services.  This reflects a belief that fostering rights- based, inclusive and open societies is an effective way to build a safer, more sustainable and prosperous world.

    Minister of Foreign Affairs François-Philippe Champagne announced a few months ago his intention to strengthen the foundations of Canada’s feminist foreign policy by working with civil society on a white paper.  Our Trade Policy Committee will be providing input.

  • Thursday, September 17, 2020 10:08 PM | Anonymous

     

    OWIT-Toronto is partnering with B2BeeMatch to help small- and medium-sized women-led enterprises to connect and network with leading local, domestic and global businesses. The partnership was formally announced at OWIT-Toronto’s complimentary virtual event, “COVID-19: A Call for Digital Transformation” in September, which brought together industry thought leaders and technology subject matter experts to share knowledge and insights on innovative solutions to embrace the accelerating shift toward digital business.

    B2BeeMatch.com is a membership-based business matchmaking platform launched in 2020 where small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) can connect in order to outsource, scale, network and find clients. Using a proprietary algorithm, B2BeeMatch carefully matches growing businesses and service firms based on their needs and offerings.

    B2BeeMatch facilitates business networking and lead generation at the local, domestic, and global levels, and vets every company that joins the platform. As part of the partnership, B2BeeMatch is currently offering free memberships to encourage key company decision-makers—such as members of OWIT-Toronto—to join the growing platform.

    Karima-Catherine (KC) Goundiam, founder and CEO of B2BeeMatch.com emphasizes B2BeeMatch’s mission to help SMEs thrive, highlighting, “As a business owner, I know how tough it can be to scale and expand, particularly internationally. Under COVID-19, with travel restrictions, it’s especially challenging. I created B2BeeMatch to help us all connect in a way that no other platform does, and while I founded the platform before the pandemic, it’s growing organically under these new conditions and that growth benefits every member who joins.”

    Helen Hemmingsen, President of OWIT-Toronto Chapter, warmly welcomed this collaboration. “OWIT-Toronto is very pleased to partner with B2BeeMatch to help generate new industry connections for women-led businesses through intelligent matchmaking,” Helen said. “With the unprecedented challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, digital adoption, marketing and innovative tools are crucial to fuel international trade and build business resilience. These are critical to ensure business scalability and readiness in a trustworthy environment.”

    The B2BeeMatch platform was created by and for SMEs. OWIT-Toronto members can sign up for next-level business matchmaking on the B2BeeMatch website.

  • Monday, August 31, 2020 2:36 PM | Anonymous

    Photo by Mary Ng

    Canada and ASEAN’s 10 member states renewed their commitment to deepen economic relations by endorsing the new, 2021-2025 Work Plan to the 2011 Canada-ASEAN Joint Declaration on Trade and Investment. The Work Plan paves the way for us to build on these shared priorities and strong people-to-people ties to create prosperity for businesses and people in both regions. 

    The Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade, virtually co-chaired—along with Vietnam’s Minister of Industry and Trade, Trần Tuấn Anh—the 9th annual ASEAN Economic Ministers-Canada consultations. Mary Ng stated that “As we continue to promote open and rules-based trade, expanding Canada’s trade with ASEAN’s dynamic and fast-growing markets is a priority for Canada. With many shared goals and values between our economies, stronger economic ties with ASEAN will benefit businesses and people for years to come, particularly on the road to global economic recovery from COVID-19.”

    Full text of news release here.

  • Monday, August 03, 2020 1:01 PM | Anonymous

    OWIT-Toronto hosted webinars in June on two of Canada’s major free trade agreements (FTAs) in order to help members better understand how to take advantage of them. Supported by Global Affairs Canada and the Ontario government, the first one focused on the Canada-US-Mexico Trade Agreement (CUSMA), often referred to as the new NAFTA, and was held prior to its official entry into force on July 1. It featured senior Canadian trade officials based in the three countries, who outlined key changes in the agreement and opportunities for Canadian companies. The second webinar – sponsored by the Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub - highlighted specific opportunities for women exporters flowing from Canada’s FTA with the European Union - the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) - and the experiences of two women entrepreneurs successfully exporting there.

    CUSMA webinar (June 3, 2020): Making the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA) Work for Canadian Exporters: Perspectives from Canadian Trade Commissioners on-the ground

    Moderator: Aylin Luisi, Director, OWIT-Toronto, and VP, Public Affairs, UPS Canada

    Speakers:

    Cristina Popovici, Deputy Director Trade Negotiations – North America (TNP), Global Affairs Canada

    • One of key objectives was to modernize and improve the agreement where possible.
    • Some of the gains include liberalized trade and good regulatory practices, new Digital Chapter, Labour and Environment Chapters with dispute resolution built in; rules of origin strengthened for autos and parts and an increase in regional value content; electronic processes to facilitate cross-border movement of goods; and IP enhancements
    • For Services and Investments, Canada preserves preferential access to US for professionals
    • Challenges of negotiations included tariffs imposed on Canadian steel and aluminum by the US.
    • Formal review mechanism – to be reviewed every 6 years

    Susan Harper, Canadian Consul General in Miami, Florida (Susan.Harper@international.gc.ca )

    • As part of Global Affairs Canada, the Trade Commissioner Service (TCS) has great initiatives to help Canadian companies to navigate the complexities of international markets:
    • Key sectors in Florida include ICT, defence, cleantech and health
    • COVID-19 is hitting Florida mostly in the sectors of tourism and hospitality; the supply chains are stressed but have survived.
    • Florida's organizations are looking into new opportunities as assistance to business has continued.
    • Why look at Florida as an export destination – 3 rd largest population state and 4 th largest for economy, has a very trade dependent economy and open reception to international partners, gateway to Latin America and Caribbean; Canada and Florida are very important trading partners; Florida ports and airports are very well connected. Florida has an extensive multimodal transportation system; All the big Canadian banks and Desjardins are very active there
    • Supplier diversity has a lot of profile in Florida - women are encouraged to look into supplier diversity options as a way to enter the market
    • Go For the Greens Conference is where TCS works well with Canadian women entrepreneurs.
    • Trade missions will continue but may be virtual this year
    • World Trade Centre is working to organize a trade show maybe partly online and partly on site for Canadian businesses interested in Florida, Latin America and Caribbean markets.
    • Tips on doing business in Florida – avoid politics talk; give yourself a competitive advantage by accessing resources who speak Spanish and Portuguese since South Florida is truly trilingual; health, food, and energy security are very important in Florida especially during COVID – be very aware of that dimension of the Canada-Florida relationship

    Frederick Caldwell, Commercial Consul and Senior Trade Commissioner in Monterrey NL, Mexico (frederick.caldwell@international.gc.ca)

    • Canada has trade representatives in Monterrey, Guadalajara and Mexico City.
    • Priority sectors for Canadian businesses in Northeast Mexico are:
      • Automotive
      • Information and Communications Technologies (local companies looking for AI, blockchain, mobility, cybersecurity, telehealth)
      • Agri-food (gluten free, diabetic and gourmet foods are good opportunities for women exporter; Mexico City trade office has good connections with hotels)
      • Clean Technologies
      • Education (one of quickest growth areas – online platforms have good prospects)
      • Aerospace
      • Good opportunities exist to enter into supply chains
    • The local manufacturing industry re-started operations mid May , but the auto sector is struggling with weak demand on a worldwide level.
    • Owit-Monterrey and Toronto are working on a virtual trade mission


    CETA Webinar- June 23, 2020: It’s Not Only about the US Anymore: Women Traders and Canada’s Free Trade Agreement with Europe (CETA)


    Moderator: Susan Baka, VP International ,OWIT-TO, & President, Bay Communications & Marketing Inc.

    • EU is a market of over 5oo million consumers
    • CETA eliminates 98% of duties on Canadian goods
    • Improves access for trade in services and simplifies entry procedures
    • Commitment from both the Canadian and EU governments to help women expand internationally and take advantage of CETA
    • Many women’s business organizations exist in the EU that can be approached as potential partners.

    Panelists:

    Stéphane Lambert, Senior Trade Commissioner, Mission of Canada to the European Union, Brussels (Stephane.Lambert@international.gc.ca )

    • Three key reasons why CETA is highly relevant to Canadian women exporters: 1. EU is an economy power asset of high-income markets with plenty of opportunities for Canadian exporters; 2. profile of the opportunities aligns well with the strengths of Canadian women explorers, providing opportunities in niche sectors where women excel, including services; and 3. CETA addresses non-tariff barriers to trade that omen exporters are sensitive to, such as regulations, compliance and customs clearance, making it easier to access the benefits.
    • Other advantages of CETA: has mobility provisions that make it smooth to enter the EU for a period of up to a year to deliver a contract and to establish a presence in the EU to move staff between Canada and the EU; opens up public procurement at all levels of government to Canadian businesses
    • Key trends that match the strengths of women exporters include: selling digitally (demand for e-commerce, mobility solutions, software as a service, telework, building a more resilient workplace); modernization of healthcare (need for telehealth, digitization of health records, health data management, health wearables, e-help for home care platforms and applications for smartphones); building a more sustainable economy/ethical consumerism/, emphasis on green (demand for more sustainably sourced products and natural ingredients, natural cosmetics like soaps, sustainably sourced fish and seafood, responsible packaging); healthy eating and healthy living (demand for organic and gluten-free foods, healthy snacks, sustainable household products)
    • Resources to help women leverage CETA include: regional offices of the Trade Commissioner Service, including a dedicated person to connect with Canadian women exporters; in-market trade commissioners; Business Women in International Trade activities within the TCS, including an annual newsletter and trade missions for women; the women’s ecosystem, including OWIT and women’s networks in the EU; and the broad trade ecosystem, including EDC and BDC, and logistics providers such as custom brokers and freight forwarders.

    Shamira Jaffer, CEO, Signifi Solutions Inc., Toronto

    • Signifi is an innovative robotic business to transform the retail landscape focusing on management, loss prevention and retail automation, with exports at 95%, of which 9% is to Europe.
    • Europe is attractive because of the large size of the market, the cultural fit - with Canadians well liked there – and streamlined processes under CETA (such as no tariffs).
    • Tips for success: have a local representative; access the free services of the TCS for help and advice (will make sure you don’t fall into any pitfalls like employment rules); tap into CanExport funding for things like translating websites into foreign languages, creating marketing brochures, attending trade shows, and hiring a local consultant to help set up an entity; and find something you have in common with potential clients because Europeans put more efforts into getting to know you on a more personal level.

    Manon Pilon, President & CEO, Laboratoires Druide® & EuropeLab Laboratory®; Founder, Derme & Co., Montreal

    • Large manufacturer of organic certified skincare products, using sustainable and ethically sourced ingredients, with divisions for spa, personal care and private label skin care.
    • Chose France to export to because of language and appreciation for organic products.
    • Certifying with the largest organization in the world was helpful to penetrate the market. That combined with the high Canadian standards for natural skincare products placed the company in a very favourable position.
    • Biggest challenge was to register the product and ensure that the label content resonated with consumers. Local help with regulatory expertise was sought.
    • Tips for success: Utilize Trade Commissioners who are like partners (were very helpful in making introductions for her company to key players in the Parisian market like Four Seasons); attend trade shows and meet people in your industry; and join organizations, network and help each other.
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