Dr. Olutoyin Oyelade, founder of Invcap Corporation and Casa Foundation, and Debra Steger, retired Emeritus Professor of International Trade at the University of Ottawa, tied to receive this year’s prestigious Excellence in Leadership in International Trade award presented at the Organization of Women in International Trade – Toronto Chapter (OWIT-Toronto) – Export Awards Luncheon, held at the Ontario Investment and Trade Centre on December 1, 2022. This award recognizes outstanding women who, through their business and personal networks, act as a trade advocate and mentor for women, fostering opportunities that actively support women entrepreneurs or professionals in achieving success in international business.
Dr. Oyelade provides financing support, mentorship, and partnerships to women-owned businesses through Invcap Corporation & Casa Foundation. Since 2015, Dr Oyelade’s Invcap has continued to support women with their capital-raising ventures and strategies. Over 200 businesses received pitch training during the pandemic. In 2018, she helped establish EntrepreneursPoint, an incubator for women, youth, and start-ups, that facilitates partnerships and new connections for growing women-owned businesses across Canada and internationally, with a focus on Africa.
Ms. Steger has mentored more young female international trade law students and lawyers at the University of Ottawa than can be counted. She is on the Gender and Trade Advisory Committee of Global Affairs Canada, and the Advisory Board of TradeExperettes, a network of women trade experts that seek to highlight the voices of women in international trade. She has supervised trade and gender projects including the drafting of the model trade and gender provisions for free trade agreements. Debra has also written numerous articles on gender and trade while being a tireless advocate for women’s voices in business and in law.
Yvonne Robertson, CEO of Matrix Power Services Ltd. and Sahara & Co, clinched the Woman Exporter of the Year Award. Her company, Matrix Power Services Ltd., distributes power products to business customers in the aerospace, telecom, utilities, and subsea industries. Under her strategic leadership, the company has expanded its export model to supply its products to North and Central America and other markets.
The winner of the Student of International Trade Award is Natalie Jiang of Centennial College who has successfully led several projects in international finance. The former Lufthansa employee has completed her Canadian International Freight Forwarders Association Certificate and is passionate about working in the FinTech industry.
Other highlights of the Awards’ afternoon included an engaging fireside chat with the Honourable Pierre Pettigrew, Chair of the Asia-Pacific Foundation of Canada and Executive Advisor, International at Deloitte Canada, and a congratulatory message from Charmaine A. Williams, Associate Minister of Women’s Social and Economic Opportunity, Ontario. Mr. Pettigrew reinforced the significance of the Indo-Pacific Strategy and the importance of enhancing trade with Asia. He strongly commended Canada’s reputation in international trade as excellent, highlighting how “we punch above our weight in trade”. Ms. Williams congratulated the winners and nominees of this year’s awards and reiterated the importance of uplifting women in international business and women’s economic empowerment.
The successful, sold-out OWIT-Toronto Awards Luncheon 2022 was sponsored by Borden Ladner Gervais, Bennett Jones, UPS, Women’s Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub, BMO, City of Toronto, KPMG, Jewels 4 Ever, Trade Facilitation Office (TFO) Canada, and Orchard Custom Beauty.
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).