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United around the globe to foster international trade and the advancement of women in business.


OWIT-Toronto wants to provide you with current and valuable news and resources on a regular bases. We do this through our site as well as through our monthly newsletter. Sign up today to receive these in your inbox.

  • Monday, November 25, 2019 9:45 AM | Anonymous

    During the November Civil Society Summit on the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) in Ottawa, detailed discussions along the key themes of Trade and Sustainable Development, Trade and Labour, and Trade and Environment were deliberated. At the core of the discussions, stakeholders and participants from both Canada and the EU Civil Society pushed forward a pro trade agenda incorporating inclusive, sustainable and equitable norms in the CETA.

    The CETA landmark agreement was praised for the unique opportunity it presented to show the world how trade agreements could incorporate aspects of non-traditional trade negotiations like on labour and other social reform clauses. At the onset, it was acknowledged that, as like-minded countries with similar standards, values and commonalities, discussions would be centered on enhancing bilateral cooperation and sharing experiences of both parties, but the discussions also dwelled into how to uphold and enforce similar standards in Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with Third Parties.

    Canada and the EU’s Domestic Advisory Groups (DAG) provided presentations along the thematic areas. Under the Trade and Sustainable Development theme, it was reported that there was no gender chapter in CETA, but gender was provided for in the fundamental principle of non-discrimination. This provision specified the basis for a joint recommendation and Action Plan to support women entrepreneurs in their capacity to trade. The DAG presentations acknowledged work on gender and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs), emphasizing the role that SMEs play in CETA’s implementation. They also highlighted the findings of the International Trade Centre (ITC) study which showed that SMEs did not face trade barriers but only trade challenges including access to information, access to networks and the liability as a small company to engage in international trade.

    The progress made on trade and gender was detailed including the various outreach and advocacy workshops and missions involving policy makers and women entrepreneurs, the regular communications between Canada and the EU teams, and the good stakeholder engagement from Civil Society. Experience sharing workshops have been undertaken with lots of lessons and best practices shared on policy and women’s participation in trade, as well as gender disaggregated data and the FTA’s assessment impact. More importantly, through these sessions, it was further confirmed that Canada and the EU share the same values on gender equality and women’s economic empowerment. Going forward, gender was prioritized by both governments as an area to focus on, as a crosscutting issue within the different thematic areas like labour and environment. Discussions will also be focused on how to mutually take forward gender equality, empowering women and financing women to grow their businesses while taking advantage of CETA.

    The Summit concluded on a positive note, calling for the proper implementation of CETA in upholding and promoting the values shared by the EU and Canada, while highlighting the importance of trade as a key driver to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. The unprecedented success with CETA compared to other FTAs and the increased trade between the EU and Canada were also acknowledged. It was agreed to have ongoing dialogue about mainstreaming gender as a crosscutting issue. This presented drive and momentum to work collaboratively, and a great opportunity to showcase the work and progress made, as well as to share the knowledge with other countries.

  • Monday, November 25, 2019 9:22 AM | Anonymous

    OWIT-Toronto is partnering with the recently launched EntrepreneursPoint to advance a community of innovative women entrepreneurs. OWIT-Toronto women-led businesses, start-ups and those looking to grow will receive a 10% discount on entrepreneurial working spaces. The business incubator program offered by EntrepreneursPoint provides the necessary resources to take businesses from the planning stages to reality, with the aim to assist women entrepreneurs to grow existing businesses, and enable them to level up and advance to a state where they can pursue opportunities in domestic, regional and global markets.

    EntrepreneursPoint in downtown Toronto is an ideal place to run a business in the vibrant city. Specially planned to support women entrepreneur start-ups, especially those with family obligations, the workplace hosts facilities and resources such as a child play area. This helps women juggling with work and child care to better manage their work-life balance. The facilities are also designed to spark creativity, create networks while honing your craft and innovation, providing a variety of products including private offices, meeting rooms, business lounge, hot desk, virtual offices, networking events, pitch contest acting as a sounding board for business ideas, Entrepreneur Exchange forum, mentorship advisory and the EntrepreneursPoint Academy.

    Along with the 10% discount on the incubator development program, OWIT-Toronto members receive an additional 20% discount on event space booking and free access to the EntrepreneursPoint Academy classes. The Academy focuses on empowering start-ups, entrepreneurs and professionals to manage financing, marketing, branding, credit, risk and tax, as well as building relationships with potential partners, in particular banking institutions.

    Women entrepreneurs face challenges including limited access to financing and less access to networks, mentors and expertise. Incubator development programs like EntrepreneursPoint address these issues and provide integrated business support programs that also focus on personal development and facilitate interactions between entrepreneurs to leverage peer learning. This helps to ensure a higher success rate for women entrepreneurs launching their businesses who receivesupport from the early start-up stage, and for those looking to accelerate and scale their businesses.

    EntrepreneursPoint is one of the strategic investments undertaken by InVcap Corporation, a large real estate firm with investments in both Africa and Canada. Founding partner Olutoyin Oyelade is enthusiastic about EntrepreneursPoint’s potential and passionate about finding solutions on how start- ups in diverse communities can grow and how businesses can be connected. She referenced the successful business networks facilitated by Casa Foundation’s Friends of Africa Summit, also under the InVcap Corporation umbrella, which has linked different companies across North America and Africa, resulting in many business and investment enterprises.

    She further elaborated on the role of EntrepreneursPoint to bring people around the table to discuss constraints and corrective measures in advancing businesses. “In the journey of life there are those who wish things could happen, those who watch things happen, and those who make things happen. The journey of entrepreneurship is for those who make things happen. Entrepreneurspoint Incubator makes that journey happen,” she noted.

    Evaluation evidence by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) shows that business incubator and accelerator programs can help stimulate growth intentions among women entrepreneurs, and help more women entrepreneurs achieve their business’ growth potential. OECD further notes that these dedicated programs have a greater impact than general programs because of greater take-up among women, provision of more tailored support, and more suitable networking opportunities are offered. This evidence was reaffirmed in an OECD Policy report which reflects a proven track record of business incubators and business accelerators to be effective supports for new and growing businesses. The report further notes that businesses that receive support in incubators tend to have higher survival rates, create more jobs, and generate more revenue. These businesses are also far more successful at raising investment capital and more likely to generate more sales.

    Helen Hemmingsen, President of OWIT-Toronto Chapter, took note of the fact that women-owned businesses are making tremendous strides in sectors as diverse as health, creative industries, digital technology, agriculture, manufacturing, transportation and clean energy. She emphasized the need to support high potential female entrepreneurs in these sectors. “Incubators help start-ups save on operating costs, with the sole purpose of helping entrepreneurs grow their business. OWIT-Toronto is very pleased to partner with EntrepreneursPoint to help women build skills and knowledge they need to create and grow their businesses, while creating more opportunities for women to be involved in the entrepreneurship sector, level up and pursue domestic, regional and global trade.”

    Entrepreneurship is moving to the forefront of the global development agenda. By investing in dedicated, innovative entrepreneurs through business incubator programs, the global community can work towards the Sustainable Development Goals embracing more sustainable inclusive social enterprises. OWIT-Toronto is partnering with EntrepreneursPoint to support women entrepreneurs to step up and take their businesses to the next level and to further encourage the efforts of women entrepreneurs to create jobs, trade global and to help reach the global goals.

  • Tuesday, October 22, 2019 9:10 AM | Anonymous

    Save the date and have your say - Tuesday, November 12, 2019 from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Eastern Time, Ottawa or by livestream web-link.

    Join our partner Global Affairs Canada in an interactive dynamic event on Tuesday, November 12, 2019 from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Eastern Time. The event jointly facilitated by the Government of Canada and the European Union will be held at Victoria Hall, 111 Sussex Drive, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, K1N 1J1 for in-person attendees. The Forum is also accessible virtually via livestreaming in both English and French. Registration forms are available upon request through email at 


    before November 1, 2019. Technical details for virtual participants will be provided after event registration.

    The EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) is a landmark

    agreement that upholds and promotes the values shared by the EU and Canada. Under CETA Article 22.5, Canada and the EU are to facilitate a joint annual Civil Society Forum. The first forum on Trade and Sustainable Development under the CETA was held in September 2018 in Brussels, Belgium.

    This second edition of the Forum as mandated by the EU-Canada CETA will provide an

    opportunity for Canadians from different businesses and institutions to engage together with officials from the Government of Canada, the European Commission and members of the EU civil society on implementation of the CETA. This will be focused on Trade and Sustainable Development, Trade and Labour, and Trade and Environment.

    Participants will also discuss ways the CETA can further help promote trade flows and practices that contribute to enhancing decent work and environmental protection. This will be instrumental in shaping the positions and decisions of CETA’s Trade and Sustainable


    OWIT Members are strongly encouraged to participate and engage in the discussions,

    and provide feedback on the effective implementation of the CETA chapters on Trade and

    Sustainable Development (including the implementation on CETA’s Trade and Gender

    recommendation), Trade and Labour, and Trade and Environment.

    Click here for more information and registration details.

    Register now!

  • Tuesday, October 22, 2019 9:01 AM | Anonymous

    OWIT-Toronto participated in The Friends of Africa Economic Development Summit, hosted over a two-day event in Toronto in October, which brought together high-level public and private sector representatives from African countries including Ethiopia, Ghana, Morocco and Nigeria with their Canadian counterparts. The interactive dialogue was focused on facilitating collaboration and delving into strategic opportunities to fast-track innovative growth in entrepreneurship development across diverse sectors.

    The Summit organized by Casa Foundation Canada was officially opened by the Foundation’s President, Olutoyin Oyelade, who emphasized the objective of providing entrepreneurs, companies, and leaders a networking platform to expand businesses that contribute to economic development. She noted the need to have a solid foundation for new entrepreneurs to enable them to build a more sustainable private sector and to ensure inclusive sustainable growth of businesses.

    Representing OWIT Toronto and moderating a panel discussion on developing an inclusive economy, VP Stephanie Dei and current National Coordinator for the WE EMPOWER Programme of the EU, UN Women and ILO, highlighted the important role of strengthening women leadership and businesses. This experience sharing session provided concrete examples of what the Canadian and Moroccan government and private sector were doing in support of advancing women’s businesses.

    Prof. Wendy Cukier, Founder Diversity Institute, Ryerson University, one of OWIT-Toronto’s partners, noted in comparison that African women entrepreneurs were stronger in numbers than in Canada. She described the Canadian Government’s policy and legal approach to women’s economic empowerment through the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy as a way to catch up, increase and double the number of women entrepreneurs by 2025. “The Government of Canada has committed $2 billion to invest in women’s economic and social development. This investment reflects a strong commitment to doubling the number of women entrepreneurs in the country,” she noted.

    She highlighted the government’s strong commitment to help women to grow their businesses through the creation of a Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub. The Hub was set up to engage women business support organizations across the country (including OWIT); to challenge stereotypes and build awareness of women’s entrepreneurial success; to improve access to financing, talent, networks and expertise; and to promote internationalization and engagement of women in international trade. She

    emphasized the role of institutions like the Diversity Institute and the Knowledge Hub in supporting women to export through their partnership with OWIT Toronto, as well as the role of Canadian trade consulates around the world which facilitate and enable women to set their sights higher in trading globally.

    Laura Reinholz, Director of BMO for Women at BMO Bank of Montreal, detailed the BMO for Women program which provides a platform to provide education, financing, training, networking, and dedicated online tools and resources for women entrepreneurs. She also highlighted the Bank’s involvement in the We Empower challenge.

    Ambassador Souriya Otmani of the Kingdom of Morocco in Canada shared Morocco’s strong commitment in supporting women’s economic empowerment. She stated how this had helped boost productivity, increase economic diversification, incomes and additional positive development outcomes. She provided examples of successful projects in both the public and private sector that had tremendously improved women entrepreneurs’ livelihoods, their families and communities.

    The underlying theme at the interactive session was women’s economic empowerment is good for business and for the economy. This has been further underscored by a UNDP study on the Sustainable Development Goals that indicates that investing in programmes that improve income generating activities for women can return $7 for every dollar spent.

    Summing up the actionable points in the session, Prof. Cukier emphasized the need to outline and document the challenges and obstacles to women’s participation in business; the key role of undertaking research to have facts, backup data and statistics in order to address these challenges; the necessity to have accountability as to what has been done and its impact; and finally the increasing need to have diversity in women representation especially at Board levels. This would ensure a more inclusive approach in bringing women businesses centerstage.

    More information about the Ninth Edition Friends of Africa Economic Development Summit can be found here.

  • Friday, October 04, 2019 9:48 AM | Anonymous

    Tampa, FL — Businesswomen from more than 20 chapters worldwide will gather in Tampa, Florida on October 23-25, 2019, at the Organization of Women in International Trade (OWIT) 19th International Conference, to explore issues and experiences in today’s tumultuous international trade arena.

    Themed “The Year of the Woman”, the event includes tours and a conference boasting an array of international speakers, special events, a port harbor cruise, annual awards dinner and networking opportunities, followed by an annual Board Meeting open to all OWIT members (and those considering joining OWIT). “We have a lot to offer here in Tampa,” says Christyna Doege, President of OWIT-Tampa Bay (TBOWIT). “I’m thrilled to welcome participants from far and wide to experience the city and to learn from top-notch experts in their field.”

    Program Activities include:

    • Tampa Business Tour (October 23) – Bringing participants to some of the most innovative and unique highlights in Tampa’s downtown area to see firsthand how the city went from “Cigar City” to an urban center for international trade.

    • Conference Day (October 24) – The conference will include 2 keynote speakers, 5 panels, and 2 powerful “Power 10” talks.

    • Port Tampa Bay Tour (October 24) – After the conference, get a waterside view of the port’s activity on this hour-long harbor tour. See first-hand how cargo moves around the world.

    • TBOWIT Annual Awards Dinner (October 24) – Networking, Education, and Scholarship. This is a fun-filled evening with keynote speaker, Alex Sink, former Florida CFO, and TBOWIT International Person of the Year awardee, Maryann Ferenc, CEO, Mise En Place. TBOWIT will also award university scholarships and hear from past winners.

    Conference Day highlights include (October 24):

    • Reading the Tea Leaves: Trade in 2020 – Touching on hot topics such as USMCA and the expansion of the digital economy to escalating trade tensions with China, and the uncertainty of Brexit, trade policy experts will give their insights on what’s to come in the trade space in 2020. Panelists include Yuri Unno, Director, International Trade Policy, Toyota, and Susan Harper, Consul General, Canadian Consulate.

    • A Canal, a Career, a Challenge – Ilya Espino de Marotta, Vice President of Transit Business with the Panama Canal Authority, will present this eye-opening and inspirational keynote. It is not every day that you’ll hear from the chief engineer of the Panama Canal expansion.

    • In Praise of OWIT Women of the Year: Retrospectives and Perspectives - A dynamic and diverse panel of past OWIT International Women of the Year Award winners from the US, Canada and Mexico share their OWIT journeys and insights on the global trade scene and where women are going from here. Find out what OWIT did for them….and what they’re doing now.

    • Business Beyond Borders: Demystifying Trade with Europe and Latin America – Moderator Christina Puig, News Anchor for NBC Telemundo, will ask panelists about the hottest business sectors, how to take advantage of existing government and in-country resources, and legal protections to ensure companies thrive abroad.

    • Make Disruption Your Wonder Woman Superpower - Women who disrupt the status quo are a special breed of leaders. Author Dr. Patti Fletcher will share what sets them apart based on her studies and work with some of the most successful female disrupters in the world.

    • Born Leaders: Genes, Luck or Hard Work? - Three successful trailblazers discuss their career paths and all they’ve encountered along the way to reveal what it takes to achieve success as women in male-dominated industries.

    • The African Trade Revolution – Moderated by OWIT Nairobi’s Past President Frida Owinga, the panel will present opportunities that exist across the continent and an overview of doing business with Africa.

    “We’ve prepared a robust program featuring an amazing line-up of dynamic and informative speakers,” explains Jennifer Diaz, President, OWIT International. “Delegates will have the opportunity to connect with leaders from around the world, learn about top international trade issues, and leave with valuable tools to utilize in their own workplace. Our OWIT Tampa Bay chapter is to be commended.”

    For more information and registration details, visit here.

    About OWIT:

    The Organization of Women in International Trade (OWIT) is a non-profit professional organization comprised of a network of 2500 international trade professionals in local chapters located in North and South America, Europe, Africa and Asia. Its mission, “United around the globe to foster international trade and the advancement of women in business,” provides members with a collective forum to enhance personal and professional development, exchange business contacts, and drive global policy initiatives.

    For more information, visit here.

    For more information, please contact:

    Christyna Doege

    President, OWIT-Tampa Bay (TBOWIT)


  • Friday, September 27, 2019 9:48 AM | Anonymous

    The European Commissioner for Trade, Ms. Cecilia Malmström, the WE EMPOWER programme of the European Union, UN Women, and the International Labour Organization co-hosted the roundtable discussion Women and Trade in the Context of CETA in Montreal in July. The event was attended by organizations that support women’s economic empowerment (including OWIT-Toronto, represented by VP Stephanie Dei, current National Coordinator for the WE EMPOWER Programme of the EU, UN Women and ILO), women entrepreneurs actively engaged in exports to the European Union, and several representatives from the public sector committed to advancing women’s participation in international trade.

    The discussion focused on the opportunities and challenges to increasing women’s participation in trade between Canada and the European Union in the context of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). Attendees examined three leading gender-based barriers to trade: limited access to capital and investors, limited access to market information and networks, and cultural biases and gender-based discrimination.

    Commissioner Malmström pointed out that in September 2018, CETA’s first Joint Committee adopted a recommendation seeking to increase women’s access to and benefit from the opportunities created by CETA. The EU and Canada are now implementing it. In April they jointly organized a workshop in Brussels where businesswomen, civil society, public sector and international organizations, including OWIT-Toronto, shared experiences on integrating the gender dimension in trade policy. The European Commission also recently launched a study on Women in Trade. Carried out by the International Trade Centre, it will fill an important knowledge gap on the participation of women in extra-EU trade and barriers they face.

    The Honourable Jim Carr, Canadian Minister of International Trade Diversification, highlighted Canada’s strong commitment to supporting trade opportunities for women so that they can grow and scale their businesses to take advantage of the benefits of CETA and other trade agreements. He mentioned that Canada is increasing the number of trade commissioners in Europe as part of the government’s trade diversification strategy and commitment to serve Canadian firms in key overseas markets. Minister Carr also emphasized the important contribution women make to sustainable economic growth through trade.

    Participants identified recommendations for addressing some barriers to trade faced by women entrepreneurs. They expressed the need for more women-only trade missions, and for the inclusion of women in standard missions. They also discussed the importance of continuing to exchange experiences and best practices, and to highlight success stories through identifying role models and storytelling. Another interesting recommendation was to consider stepping away from the focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) as the current focus may keep women who are excelling in other sectors out of the newly-created wealth opportunities. The importance of engagement with immigrants and Diaspora population who have existing networks was brought up as a way to access new markets.

    A summary of the discussion can be found here.

    More Information about the Trade for Her Conference in the Brussels can be found here.
  • Friday, September 27, 2019 9:44 AM | Anonymous

    CanExport, the Canadian government’s program that helps small and medium sized companies do business abroad, has announced changes to its eligibility criteria. As of August 22, 2019, the CanExport for SMEs project funding limit increased up to $75,000 to cover up to 75% of eligible expenses related to international market development. The CanExport SMEs program requires applicants to submit a project for which expenses total between $20,000 and $100,000. The program now reimburses up to 75% of eligible costs to offer between $15,000 and $75,000 in funding per project. Companies participating in trade missions organized by Global Affairs Canada for groups under-represented in international trade (e.g. women, LGBTQ2 and Indigenous exporters) may exceptionally submit a project of less than $20,000 for consideration.

    The CanExport program will provide your company with financial support and will allow you to gain access to personalized advice from experienced trade commissioners that will help you identity potential markets, partnerships, and opportunities to achieve your international business needs.

    If you want your business to grow globally, you may choose up to five export markets to target where your company has no or minimal business. In order to be eligible, your company must be for-profit, be an incorporated legal entity or LLP, have a CRA business number (unless Indigenous-owned or led), employ no more than 500 full-time equivalent employees, and declare between $100K and $100M in annual revenue in Canada during the last 12 months.

    Activities eligible for CanExport SMEs funding include business travel, market research, participation at trade events and fairs, adaptation and translation of marketing tools, intellectual property protection, and adaptation of contracts, as well as expert advice on business, legal or tax matters. Most applications are approved in less than 25 days.

    On top of supporting Canadian SMEs, CanExport also provides funding to innovators who want to develop R&D collaborations to commercialize new technologies through partnerships in foreign markets, to associations that would like to pursue international business development activities, and to Canadian communities that wish to attract, retain and expand foreign direct investment.

    For more information visit here.

  • Friday, September 27, 2019 9:33 AM | Anonymous

    “Wonderful turnout, great range of participants, and a selection of excellent speakers, I loved that panel!” This is how OWIT-Toronto member Aylin Luisi of UPS summed up our 20th anniversary celebration and Awards ceremony held at the Toronto Board of Trade on September 17. An inspiring panel of our chapter’s founders, including Candice Rice, Molly Zito, Susan Baka and Gail Morris, shared their international trade journeys and insights on global trade issues in a fireside chat moderated by Cindie-Eve Bourassa of Global Affairs Canada. Some of the take-aways:

    • OWIT was launched in Canada after the first Business Women’s Trade Mission to Washington.
    • Joining OWIT helped all the panelists develop a strong network of contacts, which often led to new roles or new business.
    • Many other valuable resources exist in Canada to help women export, including the Business Women in Trade program and Trade Commissioner Service of Global Affairs Canada, EDC, BDC and the Magnet Export Portal.
    • The role of women in trade has evolved dramatically in the last 20 years, with the topic of trade and women’s economic empowerment now on the agendas of international organizations like the UN, APEC, OECD and World Trade Organization.
    • Growing protectionism is a big challenge on the international trade front.
    • Getting involved with OWIT and networking are great ways for young women to meet role models and advance their careers or businesses.

    The panel was followed by an equally inspiring Awards presentation to outstanding women who have made a mark in trade. The 2019 winners are:

    • Isabella Bertani, JoAnna Townsend Award for Leadership in International Trade, recognized for her global speaking on trade topics and for mentoring young women

    • Myra Sable, Sable & Rosenfeld, Woman Exporter of the Year Award, honoured for putting Canada on the map entering new markets and conquering taste categories with win-after-win in international specialty food competitions for almost 50 years.

    • Hamideh Mahmoudi, Centennial College, Student of International Trade Award, recognized for her excellent knowledge of international trade and for creative problem solving.

    Kudos to all the nominees for their outstanding achievements:

    • Townsend Award finalists: Professor Maureen Irish, University of Windsor; Nicole Lunstead, Trade Commissioner, Global Affairs Canada; Karin Muller, Director, Trade Compliance for North America, Magna International; Christine Nakamura, VP, Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada, Toronto Office
    • Woman Exporter Award finalists: Rhonda Barnet, President & COO, AVIT Manufacturing; Natalia Mykhaylova, Founder & CEO, WeavAir; Niru Somayajula, President & CEO, Sensor Technology Ltd.; Shelby Taylor, Founder & CEO, Chickapea
    • Student Award finalist: Ledia Dervishay, Centennial College

    A big thanks to our sponsors: the Diversity Institute/Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub, EDC, and Jewels4Ever and to supporter Global Affairs Canada.

  • Tuesday, August 27, 2019 11:01 AM | Anonymous

    The G7 summit was taking place in Biarritz, France this year. The G7 Research Group from the University of Toronto has prepared a briefing book that covers most of the main issues that is discussed at the summit.

    The book has contributions from France's President Emmanuel Macron, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Prime Ministers of Italy, Australia, among others.

    Maria Marchyshyn also contributed to the book with her insights on page 70-71. She evaluated recent trade agenda and analyzed G7 trade discussions.

    You may reach the publication for the full article and more here.

  • Monday, August 19, 2019 9:57 AM | Anonymous

    OWIT-Toronto, represented by Alma Farias, Past- President and Board Member, joined some of the most important business organization and industry association leaders in Ottawa this year to participate in Export Development Canada’s (EDC’s) 14th Industry Stakeholder Panel focused on trade diversification and corporate social responsibility. This annual panel is organized by EDC to discuss trade related matters. OWIT-Toronto was one of the two new participants this year.

    At the evening reception, EDC President and CEO Mairead Lavery welcomed guests, including Canada’s Minister of Small Business and Export Promotion, the Honourable Mary Ng. The Minister noted that a small percentage of Canadian SMEs export, with the majority of those exports going to the US. She acknowledged that these companies need better access to capital, additional market research and information on navigating intellectual property concerns. The $1.1 billion Export Diversification Strategy and federal support for the Trade Accelerator Program are examples of how the government is responding to these concerns.

    Ms. Lavery opened the panel discussion session at EDC’s head office by welcoming participants and sharing reflections on her first 100 days in the role of President and CEO.

    Panelists also heard from two distinguished speakers: Ailish Campbell, Chief Trade Commissioner and Assistant Deputy Minister, Global Affairs Canada, and Peter Hall, Vice-President and Chief Economist, EDC, who provided high-level macroeconomic and policy context for the day’s discussions. Participants then broke into groups to discuss the two themes for the day: trade diversification and responsible and sustainable business.

    OWIT-Toronto actively participated in the trade diversification discussion group. Among the challenges noted by participants:

    • The low level of awareness among their members of the resources available to help them to diversify their exports and operate responsibly
    • The need to help SMEs embrace digitization.

    As an opportunity, participants noted how value chains provide an important platform for diversification. A list of recommendations to be considered by EDC was submitted by participants at the end of the discussion. You may see the 14th EDC Industry Stakeholder Panel Executive Summary here

    OWIT- Toronto appreciated the opportunity to have visibility and a voice before EDC and important business and industry representatives that influence decision makers in the public and private sectors. This was an ideal forum to highlight the relevance of women entrepreneurs and the role women play in international trade and our commitment to educate women on the benefits of growth in trade diversification for exporters and Canada. We look forward to continuing participation in the coming years.

    OWIT-Toronto recognizes EDC’s efforts and commitment to listen and learn from business organizations and industry associations in order to support and serve more Canadian exporters. Congratulations to EDC for the excellent organization of these valuable panels and gatherings.

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