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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.

  • Thursday, August 25, 2022 11:28 AM | Anonymous

    A development communications and creative professional, Arsheen has experience in strategic communications and marketing, content strategy, social media management, and stakeholder relationships. Having worked with non-profits and think tanks over the last few years, she has been engaged in the conception and delivery of projects curated for diverse audiences and timelines, partnership building, and in driving engagement through various forms of traditional and digital communication tools.

    Arsheen is passionate about development communications and using the tool to advance conversations around gender equality and inclusion.

    She is currently working as Communications and Marketing Associate at the Ontario Bioscience Innovation Organization. Previously, she was engaged in different roles in outreach, project management, and stakeholder relationships, in Programs and Strategic Initiatives at Skills for Change.

    She is an independent writer and poet, and her work has been published in The Bombay Review, The Wire, Café Dissensus, Live Wire, and The Quint among others.

    She is a film studies and English literature (Hons) graduate from Jamia Millia Islamia, India.

  • Monday, August 22, 2022 4:00 PM | Anonymous

    Julie Bednarski is a dynamic and energetic entrepreneur with almost ten years of experience in the food and nutrition industry. She has always had a passion for food and wellness and believes that health and happiness all start in the kitchen. Julie’s education includes Bachelor of Applied Science in Applied Human Nutrition at the University of Guelph and a Master of Health Science in Nutrition Communication at Ryerson University. Julie went on to complete her dietetic internship to become a Registered Dietitian with the College of Dietitians in Ontario.

    In 2012, Julie followed her passion for culinary arts, as she attended the Chef’s Training Program culinary in New York City at the Natural Gourmet Institute. Following her culinary training, Julie went on to work at various restaurants throughout North America to refine and further develop her culinary skills.

    In July 2014, Julie started Healthy Crunch – as a way to satisfy her craving for super crunchy kale chips that were BIG in size and BIG in flavor. She started recipe development in her home kitchen and within 1 year, Julie had expanded to own her own commercial snack food manufacturing facility. Healthy Crunch’s mission is to innovate everyday foods making them better for you, while still being super delicious. With Julie’s ambition for success Healthy Crunch grew to have over 25,000 points of distribution within Canada within the first 2 years in business. Healthy Crunch now distributes their products throughout the world including Canada, USA, Europe, and the Middle East. Since the start of her business, Julie continues to expand Healthy Crunch’s product lines to include coconut chips, trail mix, granola bars, rice crispy squares, chia jam, seed butter, instant lattes, kale chips, dark chocolate superfoods, and chocolate chips. Julie is proud to be a woman entrepreneur and a certified Women-Owned Business.


  • Friday, July 29, 2022 6:25 PM | Anonymous

    New chapters to expand your global network…virtual happy hours to connect with members around the world…a celebration of OWIT small businesses….this and more from OWIT International. Here are some highlights:

    • Welcome aboard to OWIT Ecuador and OWIT South Africa, two new chapters joining the OWIT International family this spring.

    • Virtual happy hours called Happy-Her-Hour for members are starting, which will be a great way to connect with other members around the world. Check events in the OWIT site in August for details on when and how to participate in the next one.

    • Washington, DC was the host city for the Spring board meeting that attracted chapter representatives from around the world.  The fall board meeting will take place in Geneva immediately following the WTO Public Forum the end of September. 

    • In honour of MSME Day, OWIT International hosted a virtual event in July that highlighted five selected SMEs from around the world. This event was the culmination of a month-long campaign throughout June aimed at recognizing and celebrating OWIT SME members from our 27 chapters in Africa, the Americas, and Europe.  The women honoured and featured included: Canada’s Barbara Mowat, President of GroYourBiz in B.C., Noreen Cesaro, Principal of Market Accents and President of the OWIT-UK chapter, Elizabeth Nwanko of Oakland Best in Nigeria and Leslie August, President of Fremont Peak Capitalin California.  

    • When asked by moderator Kezy Mukiri of Africa what role they foresaw OWIT playing in the future, the consensus was that OWIT can become the lead agency for entrepreneurs and policy for small business.  As Noreen put it, “There is great value in our power as a voice of women traders globally to put forward recommendations to our governments and the World Trade Organization. (WTO).  We are a huge resource that is underutilized. We need to look at programs where we can have impact.”  “International leadership is important for legislation and policy,” agreed Leslie.  “We can also help women anywhere learn and grow.  There is a wide swath of women on a continuum – from women with little access to resources and those who have access.  We can need to facilitate that transfer of knowledge across borders and connect to uplift all of us.”  Another key take-away summed up the value of OWIT membership: "There are great opportunities for linkages among us; we can form strategic alliances and collaborate," said Barbara. "Network with other chapters", added Elizabeth. "Your network is your net worth."

  • Friday, July 29, 2022 4:30 PM | Anonymous

    Our partner the Belgian Canadian Business Chamber (BCBC) recently received the accreditation of The Federation of Belgian Chambers of Commerce - the umbrella organization of all accredited Chambers of Commerce in Belgium and Belgian Chambers abroad. Through the accreditation program, the Federation guarantees the quality of the services provided by the Chambers to their members, providing BCBC members with the highest level of assurance. The Federation aims to develop the Belgian Chambers of Commerce into a reference partner for companies doing sustainable and international business. BCBC also held their first Business Excellence Awards Gala in April 2022. A sold-out event that showcased Canadian and Belgian companies as well as individuals who have played a key role in driving bilateral trade and economic cooperation between Belgium and Canada. OWIT-Toronto members can access BCBC events at member rates, so keep on the lookout for upcoming events


  • Monday, June 27, 2022 4:56 PM | Anonymous

    Toronto was a partner in a virtual CETA Business Forum  for Canada and Europe that took place in June to create synergies and networking between Canadian and European companies.  Our chapter was represented in the  Women in International Trade  session by VP International Susan Baka who presented  Opportunities for Canadian Women Entrepreneurs under CETA to leverage this free trade agreement and do business with the EU.

  • Friday, June 24, 2022 11:00 AM | Anonymous

    OWIT-Toronto partnered with OWIT-Tampa Bay and OWIT-South Florida for the 2nd Annual Stories from the Trenches: Women who Lead in International Trade webinar in June, supported by the Canadian Consulate General in Miami and moderated by Susan Harper, the Consul General there.  The virtual event featured three dynamic women selected by each chapter who shared their different experiences in trade:

    Nadia Theodore, SVP, Global Government & Industry Relations, Maple Leaf Foods, Toronto * – Always fascinated with the idea of bringing trade to companies and marrying up policy with practice, Nadia joined MLF after spending 20 years in the trade policy branch of Global Affairs Canada.  She was one of two executive leaders who supported the chief negotiators for the CPTPP.

    • There are challenges [in being a woman in international trade] but also moments when you realize that sometimes success comes because we are women.

    • We need to talk about who benefits from trade and how they benefit  and find ways to bring trade to more people.

    • There are numerous paths to international trade. Really think broadly about what your strength looks like in terms of a career in trade.

    • What has served me well is the ability to read a room and calibrate the response accordingly. Sometime that means doubling down and other times it means biting your tongue. 

      *Since presenting on this webinar, Nadia was appointed as Canada’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the World Trade Organization in Geneva. Many congratulations from OWIT-Toronto!

    Jeneth D’Alonzo, CEO, DMSI, Tampa Bay – Both CEO and an engineer in a manufacturing company – a sector where there are few women -   Jeneth designs things  like fibreconnectivity products.  Despite having no education for it, she built a fibreoptic manufacturing  facility in the Philippines in 2009, the first of its kind.

    • Corruption was probably the biggest challenge in building a manufacturing plant in a developing country. 

    • When you enter international trade, come first knowing who you are and be confident; have faith in what you do and you’ll be awesome. 

    • Although the manufacturing industry is male dominated, I was accustomed  to it from school where I was only one of two woman in a class of 48. Once you are seen as an expert, you will get respect.    

    Jen Diaz, President, Diaz Trade Law, Miami  – After 10 years at a large firm, Jen decided to start her own firm, which specializes in  trade compliance. She loves international  trade  and finds every day different.

    • The enforcement space is growing and is a great career path, even though it is very male dominated – that’s why OWIT was a godsend for me.

    • We as business owners wear 18,000 hats.  Building and maintaining expertise in a specific niche has helped me tremendously. 

    • This is an interesting time to be in trade in the US since there is so much going on eg. forced labour issue.     

    • There is great power in an international network like OWIT. Part of being an amazing woman is having a network and tribe and being around successful women, who will make you better.

    If you missed the webinar, here is the link to the recoding: 


    Access Passcode: Qqh$dR6^

  • Friday, May 27, 2022 4:24 PM | Anonymous

    OWIT-Toronto participated on panels during a CUSMA SME Women’s Entrepreneurship webinar on May 25 during the first-ever CUSMA SME Dialogue focused on women. Presented by Global Affairs Canada, Canada’s Trade Commissioner Service, the US Trade Department of Commerce and  the Ministry of Economy of Mexico, this event brought together SMEs, support organizations and government reps to discuss resources and strategies for  strengthening trade under CUSMA, boosting cooperation and helping more SMEs reap the benefits of trade.  

    As part of a panel of women entrepreneurs from Canada, the US, and Mexico, Kelli Saunders, President of Morai Logistics and a former OWIT-Toronto Woman Exporter of the Year award winner, shared her insights on the Mexican market and tips on doing business there:

    • Benefits of doing business in Mexico include the ability to cut costs without sacrificing services there, outstanding education and labour force, and closer nearshoring. 

    • Developing personal relationships and trust is key but it is also important to connect with the right people to get decisions made.  Having bilingual staff contributes to stronger communications. 

    • Meal time is also important in business development.  If you are invited to a breakfast meeting, you have likely scored that trust since deals are sealed there; lunch is more casual and dinner more fun.

    • People in Mexico want to know about your family.

    • The business dress code is different – ladies dress smartly and typically wear suits.

    • Know what resources are available to help you export and take advantage of them. 

    OWIT-Toronto’s  VP International, Susan Baka, participated in a panel about resources available to help women businesses leverage CUSMA and do business in North America.  She spotlighted OWIT as a valuable resource and highlighted three things in particular that OWIT offers that contribute to the growth of women globally:  trade missions, international networking, and mentoring new chapters. 

    Our chapter is part of the SME Counsellors Network, which brings together women’s support organizations from Canada, the US and Mexico, to collaborate and to discuss strategies and resources for helping women leverage CUSMA. 

  • Wednesday, April 20, 2022 12:03 PM | Anonymous

    OWIT-Toronto celebrated its partnership with the Canada Arab Business Council (CABC) to provide women-led businesses and entrepreneurs access to market insights and opportunities across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. The partnership was formally announced at a joint OWIT-Toronto and CABC webinar, “Expand your business into the Middle East & North Africa region” in December, which brought together senior women leaders in the public and private sectors to share a current update on doing business in the MENA region, delve into opportunities at the Dubai Expo 2020 and upcoming events and milestones for companies looking to enter, expand or re-activate their trade and investment efforts in the region.

    At the occasion of the launch, Helen Hemmingsen, past OWIT-Toronto President said, “As a global network with local chapter representation across Central, North and South America, Western Europe, Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, the missing gap of global connections has been the Middle East and North Africa region. This partnership serves as a gateway to tap into opportunities for business information, connections and support our members in doing business in the MENA region.”

    CABC is the voice of business between Canada and the Arab world. CABC and OWIT-Toronto have shared interests of advancing international trade between Canada and the Arab world, as well as enhancing international business education and networking opportunities for women entrepreneurs, professionals and trade experts. Cathy Séguin, President and Executive Director, CABC noted, “Our partnership with OWIT-Toronto is a significant milestone for Canada Arab Business Council. It facilitates and accelerates our mission and our scope to promote Canada’s inclusive economic success and to foster international trade and the advancement of women in business in the MENA region. This is also consistent with the government’s strategy in supporting women leaders, entrepreneurs and innovators.”

    The panel discussion was moderated by Carmen Sylvain, Former Canadian Ambassador to the Republic of Colombia, the Kingdom of Morocco and the Republic of Mauritania. She was joined by Katerina Tarasova, Executive Director, International Accreditation at Health Standards Organization; Lindsay Margenau, Counsellor (Commercial) and Senior Trade Commissioner, Consulate General of Canada to Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Karima-Catherine [KC] Goundiam, CEO, Red Dot Digital Inc. & B2BeeMatch; Jennifer Cooke, Director, Inclusive Trade, Export Development Canada (EDC); and Amal Soliman, Co-Founder, Nubia Foods.

    Here are some key take-aways on doing business and expanding into the MENA region:

    • In terms of doing business in the MENA region, it is important not to generalize doing business across the region, as there are many geographical and cultural variations across the MENA region as well as in GDP economy levels.
    • Services to women entrepreneurs are accessible to offset challenges and barriers in accessing programs and solutions through EDC, the Trade Commissioner’s Service (TCS) and other counterparts in the trade ecosystem including the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC), as well as B2BeeMatch’s VIBee program that provides customized solutions to women-led businesses.
    • Key trending sectors in the MENA region that have gained traction especially with the pandemic and increased digital transformation include: healthcare; health tech industry; robotics and artificial intelligence; education tech; health and wellness; and beauty and fashion. The healthcare sector will continue to drastically transform to deal with the aftermath of the pandemic, and also to find new ways of simplifying complex healthcare systems into more efficient and effective ways.
    • Resources, knowledge, education and skills building are available to support Canadian women to export with confidence in the MENA region, providing connections both to the ecosystem of organizations that can support them as well as to different opportunities internationally.
    • Learn and get an understanding of the players in the global trading ecosystem and leverage them. This helps to strengthen export plans and position in markets of interest. Reaching out to the TCS, EDC, and organizations like OWIT, chambers of commerce like the CABC can really help to achieve those export goals and accelerate your success, accessing market knowledge, strategic planning for market risks and challenges.
    • Crucial to start with an international mindset – businesses are more likely to have a global competitive advantage when their leaders have a global mindset and are thinking big from the outset.
    • Participating in trade missions provides opportunities to explore international business prospects, to build more networks and have access to specific sector information.
    • Accessing financing and grants using financial products can help speed up growth, help a business owner achieve their objectives more quickly. Financial support to women entrepreneurs looking at accessing new markets like the MENA region is also available at the EDC.
    • Important to protect yourself as a business owner from liability – this opens up access to more resources like grants or other financial products. It is also important to have a good understanding of all the risks involved in a market and what can be addressed.
    • Access to a strong network – this can enable introductions to customers, suppliers, partners, distributors etc., as well as providing knowledge and support.
    • The MENA region presents a good alternative with diversifying supply chains especially given the global supply chains disruptions caused by the pandemic.
    • Most MENA countries have very conducive environments for women to do and start businesses, with a large number of women entrepreneurs as a driving force for their economies, in leadership roles and company executive roles. Countries like UAE have been voted as the safest in the world for women and provide a global hub for business with a diversity in the population and in cultures.
    • Members were invited to the Expo Dubai 2020, one of the major highlights of the year. The world's largest business event that was held in the UAE, it hosted 200+ pavilions and 24 million registered visits from 178 nations over its six months duration (October 2021 to March 2022). CABC led a high-level Canadian trade mission of 30 companies to the UAE and organized its first international business event 'Canada Arab Business Forum 2022' with 250 attendees representing government and businesses from Canada and the UAE. With a focus on strategic sectors such as Healthcare, Education, Artificial Intelligence, Clean Energy and Agriculture, the event created significant business and networking opportunities promoting bilateral trade and investment outcomes.
  • Monday, April 11, 2022 10:39 AM | Anonymous

    The OWIT chapters in the CUSMA/USMCA/T-MEC region - Ottawa, Toronto, Orange County, Los Angeles, and Mexico - and the Los Angeles Small Business Development Center Global teamed up for a collaborative online event on April 5 that attracted over 300 registrants from around the world. It was the first of a series of virtual events on the topic of recovery and resilience in the trade community that highlight the voices of women in trade. This kick-off webinar brought perspectives from the customs agencies in Canada, the US and Mexico together with three women entrepreneurs from the three countries. Watch the recorded event. 

    Take-aways from he Canadian panelists included:

    From Carol West, CEO & President of the Canadian Society of Customs Brokers

    • Collaboration and sharing were critical during the pandemic and made us all think about border security and collaboration even more.
    • Supply chain challenges accelerated in Canada due to the collapse of the highway infrastructure in BC from torrential storms that caused additional costs and delays, and due to truck convoys that shut down border crossings and caused perishable goods to suffer immensely.
    • CUSMA has made it simpler to use this free trade agreement.
    • On the future of trade: She is hopeful but not totally positive, questioning what the recovery will look like as result of the war in Ukraine. Resilience will mean something different. Her advice: Be increasingly vigilant about cyber attacks on supply chains.
    • Priorities going forward include: collaboration, with the private sector at the government table to inform decision making; commitment to standardization; commitment to communication; and commitment to knowledge and investments in training and professional development

    From Suzie Yorke, Board Director & Founder, Love Good Fats

    • There is a higher bar now for companies to do things the right way – to be transparent and not just pay lip service.
    • Brands that are successful embrace sustainability and have a good story
    • Consumers and retailers want higher purpose brands and this demand is influencing trade in a big way.

    The next OWIT collaboration program will take place on April 29 4/29/22 and will highlight the voice of women in trade from Kenya, featuring the OWIT Nairobi Chapter and Kenyan women in trade. Keep an eye on. www.linkedin.com/in/witoc/ for details.

  • Monday, April 11, 2022 9:47 AM | Anonymous

     A group of women food exporters from across Canada participated in the March OWIT-Toronto Women’s Virtual Business Delegation to Mexico, focusing on the agri-food sector. This represented the third trade mission of its kind organized by OWIT Toronto. With the geographical advantage and the Free Trade Agreements that have eliminated duties on almost all agri-food products, Mexico is a natural market for Canadian exporters.

    Delegates had a total of more than 30 pre-arranged virtual business-to-business meetings with qualified buyers or partners. Feedback from delegates at the debriefing session was encouraging as they asked OWIT-Toronto to continue promoting and running business delegations; delegates found the virtual B2B meetings very productive and a delegate plan to follow the same format and template to reach out other prospect clients from the European market.

    Webinar kick-off

    Other food exporters seeking to diversify their markets beyond Canada joined the March 22 complimentary opening session of the Business Delegation. The Canadian Ambassador to Mexico, Graeme C. Clark, and the Ontario Minister of Agriculture, Food & Rural Affair, Lisa Thompson, shared welcoming remarks. The event included two panels - one featuring Catherine Beach of EDC and Brooke Gordon of BDC, who highlighted resources to help women-owned businesses export to Mexico; and the other featuring Nydia Orue, General Director, Cluster Agroalimentario de Nuevo León, Agroalim, and Rosa Maria Suarez, Import Manager at La Comer (one of the largest supermarket chains in Mexico City), who shared what buyers in Mexico expect from suppliers. Among their tips:

    • Having good communication is always key in everything. Stay in touch to understand the buyer’s needs and keep the buyer informed about new items in your catalogue.
    • Meet potential distributors and business partners through trade local associations

    Many thanks to our Business Delegation partners – Global Affairs Canada, through the Embassy in Mexico City , Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA), EDC, BDC, Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub, BMO, City of Toronto and Bennett Jones.

    And a big shout out Board member Alma Farias for spearheading this 2022 Business Delegation, along with her committee, Susan Baka, Selda Erkilic and Helen Hemmingsen. Watch the webinar recording. 

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