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.
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).