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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.


  • Sunday, August 02, 2020 10:05 AM | Anonymous

    July has been an active virtual month for OWIT-Toronto members, from providing guidance to Dominic Republic exporters to access Canadian markets, to participating in a virtual Asian trade mission, addressing the Women Economic Forum in India, participating in a CUSMA stakeholder call as well as presenting a digital marketing webinar, to running for a social innovative cause in support of Mexican farmers in Canada. Check out what some of our members have been up to virtually… as we remain OWIT-Toronto strong and proud!

    Alma speaks at Conference Webinar Series for Dominican Republic Exporters

    Alma Farias, OWIT-Toronto Board Director and Managing Director of Trade Partners, successfully delivered a presentation in a virtual three-part seminar organized by the Embassy of the Dominican Republic in Canada and the Cei-RD (Centro de Exportacion e Inversion de la Republica Dominicana). The conference webinar series were officially launched by the Ambassador of the Dominican Republic in Canada, Pedro Vergés Ciman. These webinar discussions were focused on helping Dominican Republic exporters learn how to grow effectively in the Canadian produce market and comply with food control requirements.

    Alma’s presentation, “The Canadian Import Produce Market and Opportunities for Dominican Republic Exporters”, provided an overview and analysis of the Canadian produce market and an outline of export product opportunities. Alma highlighted how Canada has one of the highest consumption rates of fresh vegetables in the world, and its imports are an integral component of the produce market and often necessary to fulfill Canadian demand year-round. Detailed discussions on the regulatory part were covered by two distinguished speakers based in Ottawa from CFIA and DRC.

    Anita participates in a virtual Asian trade mission

    Anita Agrawal, OWIT-Toronto’s strategic advisor and immediate past President, participated in a virtual two-week trade mission to Asia organized by the Toronto Region Board of Trade and the World Trade Centre Toronto (WTC-T). The July trade mission was organized to assist delegates representing key Canadian companies ready to expand internationally and unlock the potential of Asia’s consumer market. It provided the opportunity for Canadian brands to capitalize on commercial opportunities by tapping into the world’s largest e-commerce market and a rapidly-growing, affluent middle class, expanding their market footprint in Asia. It also provided connections for Canadian businesses to link with partners in global markets such as the Asian e-commerce giants, like Alibaba, Tmall Global, JD.com and Suning, to exchange industry best practices and sector knowledge, build connections and reflect on doing better business.

    The virtual Market Activation Program (vMAP) was launched as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic which caused governments to impose travel restrictions and made in-person trade missions impossible. The WTC-T led program enables market traction for Canadian companies in global markets and helps catalyze dynamic and rapid recovery from the global pandemic. The virtual missions offer SMEs the opportunity to build and refine their export strategy with best-in-class subject matter experts and virtually meet one-on-one with industry buyers and key go-to-market partners. The “Unlocking Asia’s Consumer Market Digitally” vMAP, had a schedule jam-packed with incredible speakers, companies and one-on-one meetings. As CEO of Best Bargains Jewellery and top jewellery brand, Jewels 4Ever, Anita was pleased to receive insights to refine and adapt her company’s export and expansion strategies for digital sales. “This virtual trade mission was quite timely and effective,” says Anita. “Going digital has been given a turbo-charge by COVID-19 lockdowns, and through the vMAP, we were able to take virtual site visits to key digital platforms, innovation hubs, distributors and wholesalers to understand their supply chain and identify opportunities for commercialization. We also have business-to-business meetings with large-scale buyers, distributors, and go-to-market partners.”

    Maria addresses Women Economic Forum in India

    Maria Marchyshyn, OWIT-Toronto’s strategic advisor and past Board Director, spoke at the Women Economic Forum (WEF), organized out of Bangalore, India, which took place online in July 2020. Under the theme, “Economic Independence Leading to Women Empowerment”, Maria elaborated on various ways that organizations and individuals work to achieve gender equality and women empowerment. She focused in particular on the importance of women’s economic empowerment and financial independence, emphasizing that it is not only about increasing women's access to jobs, but also to economic resources and opportunities, to financial services, to owning property and other assets and to ensuring access to markets and skills development. Maria suggested that women need to educate themselves more on finance and business; she encouraged women to find employment or start their own businesses and described its numerous benefits, other than just financial. She further stressed the importance of developing networks and joining organizations like OWIT, where women can turn for information, support and advice. Maria spoke widely on OWIT, its mission and its international presence and encouraged women to consider opening an OWIT chapter in India. As part of her participation, she received a WEF award.

    Susan participates in CUSMA stakeholder call… and presents digital marketing webinar

    Just prior to CUSMA (the new NAFTA) coming into force on July 1, VP-International Susan Baka represented OWIT-Toronto in a stakeholder call where CUSMA Chief Negotiator Steve Verheul expressed appreciation for stakeholder input throughout the negotiations. Although Canada would have preferred that implementation of the agreement be delayed due to the disruptions to businesses caused by COVID-19, the government is striving to make transition to CUSMA as smooth as possible to enable companies to take advantage of it as soon as possible. He said the situation going forward will be fluid as there are still some issues and challenges, and he encouraged continuing input from stakeholders.

    In her role as Ontario Regional Representative for TFO Canada (Trade Facilitation Office Canada), Susan also presented a webinar in July for small and medium exporters from developing countries in Latin America, Asia and Africa. Selling in a New World: It’s All About Digital Marketing emphasized the increasing importance of digital marketing and e-commerce fuelled by the pandemic. Susan outlined digital marketing trends such as the exploding growth of social media and she shared best practices for effective websites, email marketing, blogging and e-commerce. TFO Canada helps exporters from developing countries access the North American market.

    Priti runs for a social innovation cause for Mexican farmers’ families in Canada

    OWIT-Toronto Board Director and VP-Events Priti Ruparel took part in a virtual 5 Km race in July as part of the “Corre Por Ellos” Challenge organized by the Mexico Business Club. The charitable cause was to support the family members of the Mexican farmers in Canada who were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. She completed her 5 Km challenge in 29 mins. 55 secs, coming in 7th out of 48 runners. Fellow Board Director Alma Farias sponsored and nominated Priti for this noble cause. This platform provided a unique opportunity to link sports with social impact, giving necessary support to those who needed it the most. Participants in the race either ran or walked for 5 Km on Saturday July 25 or Sunday July 26, at a convenient time and place.

    Priti dedicated her 5 Km race to Alma for having faith in her and making her part of such a wonderful initiative. A passionate half-marathoner, Priti also expressed immense pleasure to be part of this sincere cause especially during these challenging times caused by the pandemic. “The Corre Por Ellos Challenge gave me a sense of purpose as a runner,” Priti said. “No words to express the joy and happiness.” Now that’s our definition of women uplifting each other and their communities!

  • Thursday, July 30, 2020 11:46 AM | Anonymous

    OWIT-Toronto in partnership with Language Advantage Inc. organized a webinar focused on the importance of speaking the client’s language when developing export plans in Hispanic Markets. Moderated by OWIT-Toronto Board Director, Alma Farias of Trade Partners, the webinar provided strategies on accessing the Hispanic export markets through engagement and cultural awareness, and through language the most common characteristic of Hispanic culture.


    Catherine Jodar of Language Advantage Inc. emphasized that cultural competency and foreign language are critical, and has become a valuable contributor to international business success. For example, one in four US employers lost business due to lack of language skills (American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages) and American businesses lost more than US$2 billion a year due to cultural misunderstandings. She also underscored the three cultural competencies that could make or break a foreign business deal including time, trust and business style.

    Lyse Moreau of International Sew Right reflected on her first trade mission to Monterrey in Mexico organized by OWIT-Toronto. She noted the very open and receptive nature of the people and cleared up any misunderstandings of doing business in the region, as she found it very safe, with good access to technology and connectivity. She highlighted the importance of speaking the Spanish language to create more personal connections and bolster business deals.




    Providing key tips on accessing Hispanic export markets, Fabiola Sicard of the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade explained the business culture of Mexico and Latin American countries. Conducting business in Mexico and Latin America is relationship based rather than transactional, so there is need to invest time in building relationships, participating in long business meetings and social gatherings. Formal dress code is strongly encouraged and hierarchy followed so it is important to understand the organizational chart of potential partners or clientele and to figure out decision makers and influencers. There is less formality with regards to time and punctuality, and it’s important to be straightforward when there is an issue when dealing with Mexicans.

    Fabiola also strongly recommended the use of Canadian resources available to exporters such as the Trade Commissioner Service which helps Canadian companies reach target markets, and the Ontario Trade and Investment Office in Mexico which provides one on one consultations, market intelligence, and assistance in finding partners/prospects.


    In an interactive learning session, which included a prize, participants learned key communication differences in different Hispanic markets. A free offer for OWIT-Toronto members to learn Spanish for six weeks was also announced, as well as discounted customized courses by Language Advantage Inc. for OWIT-Toronto members. And in a lively Q&A format, the panelists shared more tips to become more culturally aware and ensure success doing business in different Hispanic markets. It was also noted that it is easier to do business in Hispanic countries with which Canada has Free Trade Agreements.

    A list of useful links and resources was also provided to support accessing Hispanic export markets:

    Ontario Trade Calendar

    Contact Information Trade Commissioners in Mexico City

    Contact Information Trade Commissioners in Monterrey

    Contact Information Trade Commissioners in Guadalajara


    The event recording can be accessed here.

  • Sunday, June 07, 2020 3:16 PM | Anonymous

     ‘COVER UP AGAINST COVID-19 CANADA’ program was kickstarted by Lyse Moreau, President of International Sew Right (ISR) together with her team, business associates, volunteers and the Niagara region community in April 2020. ISR is a woman owned diversified company that imports and exports uniquely improved safety garments and products. The company manufactures and custom designs safety clothing, medical, lanyard clothing, working at heights clothing, women's wear and comfort wear as well as men’s work wear. The

    ISR COVID-19 support program signalled ISR’s product pivot to making masks. Initially, this began as an answer to community support when Lyse received a phone call from a patient receiving dialysis treatment who required masks to continue receiving treatment at the hospital. With a firm affirmative response, Lyse knew what role ISR could play to help control the community spread of the coronavirus.

    With immediate effect, masks making went into full swing production and since then, they have received orders to make masks for the healthcare industry from cotton, polycotton and fire-retardant fabrics. These masks are manufactured in different styles, colors, and are reaching families, nursing homes, hospitals, construction sites, foundries and other areas where they are desperately needed. Medical supplies produced now include PET masks, face masks, hand sanitizers, gowns, lab coats and gloves.

    With the initial launch of the program, 23,000 masks were donated in three weeks, reaching far and wide, including to children in Toronto. Lyse notes the extraordinary delight she has felt on seeing children covered up, the gratitude received from different people as well as the inclusive community engagement in the program. The social impact has had far-reaching results reflecting strong Canadian pride and joy in supporting the first responders and the hospitals.

    Lyse Moreau, a proud OWIT-Toronto member is extending these benefits to fellow OWIT members in Toronto, donating 3,000 masks to the organization. “Keeping communities safe is integral to who we are at International Sew Right”, Lyse says, “We fully recognize that our company has an important role to play during this trying time of COVID-19, and we are ready to take on the gigantic steps to do all we can to help our communities to remain safe and to thrive.”

    OWIT-Toronto members will be receiving up to 3,000 free masks on a first-come first-serve basis paying only for shipment charges. The face masks have been packaged in a set of 24 per bag, and shipment is available while stock last. Helen Hemmingsen, President OWIT-Toronto welcomed the very generous offer from Lyse Moreau and the ISR team, noting, “We are greatly inspired by how Lyse Moreau and her team at International Sew Right came together to quickly pivot their business to support the community with COVID-19 protective solutions. We hope to share these uplifting stories and lessons to the rest of our members to support each other in creating innovative strategies for business evolutions during the pandemic.”

    Individual masks for retail are available, with single masks going for $6.99 each, double fabric masks at $8.50 each and double fabric masks with replaceable filters at $15.00 each. For orders and more information, please contact Lyse Moreau at Lyse@safetyclothing.com and the ISR website for more on their innovative protective product catalogue.

  • Monday, May 11, 2020 4:27 PM | Anonymous

    The impact of trade and trade policies is shaped by the structure of markets and institutions and the gender inequalities that are embedded within them. Trade policies and agreements influence the opportunities of women and men to access secure and decent employment and to benefit from international trade. To set the issues in context, the brief focuses on gender and trade issues relevant to Canada and the European Union, and recommendations are applied specifically to the Canada–European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).

    Get the report here.

    Resource Information Publisher: WE EMPOWER Programme of EU, ILO & UN Women, UNCTAD

  • Saturday, May 02, 2020 3:56 PM | Anonymous

    *This article was originally published in The Canadian Business Quarterly available here.

    On the occasion of the recently celebrated International Women’s Day, and its key theme, “Each for Equal. An equal world is an enabled world”, we pause and reflect on what this means in terms of empowering and advancing women in international trade. Without a doubt, gender equality and women’s economic empowerment are essential to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to achieve inclusive growth, leaving no-one behind. Momentum has been gaining in international trade institutions in recent years to better recognize the potential of women-owned businesses and support their growth.

    Rocky challenges

    Women entrepreneurs are growing in leaps and bounds around the world and are increasingly an important driver of economic growth, but they continue to remain underrepresented in global trade and participation in global value chains. Only one in five women export and women-owned firms win only one to two percent of multinational corporate and government procurement contracts. Women-owned businesses are often concentrated in service sectors and informal sectors that are less trade intensive. Many lack resources needed to expand beyond borders, including access to contacts, education and financing. In some countries, there are still legal barriers that prevent women from owning land and accessing financing, plus cultural biases exist. Even in developed countries, women tend to self finance which limits their growth. In addition, although considered gender neutral, trade agreements can affect women and men differently. Historically, they have been negotiated without a gender lens and failed to take into account the needs of women and the impacts of agreements on them.


    Women entrepreneurship making waves

    Research shows that women continue to play a central role in the rise of the entrepreneurial economy in Canada, launching businesses at higher rates than before, often outpacing men. And, according to Startup Canada, Canadian women entrepreneurs have been taking on the business world despite barriers and disparities in funding and representation, contributing $148 billion annually to the economy while employing 1.5 million Canadians. According to a report, greater efforts to harness the power of women in the economy could boost Canada’s annual GDP by $150 billion in 2026. This reflects the immense potential for unparalleled growth and represents a significant stimulus for Canada’s economic growth and prosperity. On the global front, if women participated in the economy on equal footing as men in the labour market, this could add as much as $28 trillion, or a 26% increase over current growth, to global annual GDP by 2025.

    Global call to action

    Set against this backdrop, the Organization of Women in International Trade (OWIT) was formed back in the 1980s in the US. Its story is part of the journey towards gender equality, with a focus on empowering women to trade globally. A not-for-profit global association, OWIT’s mission is to advance women in international trade and business, engaging over 2,000-plus members and 20 chapters around the globe that impact hundreds of millions of dollars in trade and business transactions annually. The organization provides education, information and high-quality networking. OWIT has local chapters in Canada, in Toronto and Ottawa. As the first Canadian chapter of this premier global trade association, OWIT–Toronto is a 20-year-old non-profit designed to promote women doing business in international trade. Through networking, educational and professional growth opportunities, the organization helps to build members’ expertise in the international trade arena. Members include women entrepreneurs, service providers, trade practitioners, executives, government representatives and business women involved in international trade as well as students passionate about international trade. OWIT-Toronto serves as a gateway to potential marketplaces through its global network, connecting women to the right contacts for support, information, education and inspiration. This includes connections to like-minded women, access to business contacts and service providers like bankers, as well as to trade missions, and information about financing programs that help support international growth. Through pursuing strategic partnerships with groups and programs both domestically and internationally that support women’s economic empowerment and global trade, OWIT-Toronto amplifies networking opportunities for its members. It also showcases role models to inspire other women and the younger generation to pursue trade careers and opportunities.


    Canada’s inclusive trade approach

    In Canada, tremendous strides have been taken to achieve women’s economic empowerment, and Canada already demonstrates best-in-class leadership on the international stage. The Canadian government’s policy and legal approach through its progressive trade agenda and Women Entrepreneurship Strategy provides an opportunity to double the number of women entrepreneurs by 2025. Its $2 billion investment in women’s economic and social development reflects its strong commitment. Canada has also provided resources for the expansion of Export Development Canada (EDC)’s Women in Trade investment program. The critical investments ensure that EDC is able to translate its goal of helping women-owned and -led businesses grow into new markets. And the Trade Commissioner Service (TCS)’s Business Women in International Trade (BWIT) program helps Canadian women-owned businesses access new export opportunities by organizing trade missions each year. At the global level, Canada’s trade diversification strategy enables a more inclusive approach to trade that provides access to benefits and opportunities from international trade and investment to more Canadians who have traditionally been under-represented, including women, SMEs and Indigenous peoples. Canada has also been a strong proponent of the application of Gender-based Analysis Plus (GBA+) to impact assessment, bringing this internationally recognized best practice to all realms of policy-making. Among the first in the world is a dedicated trade and gender chapter included in the modernized Canada-Chile Free Trade Agreement (FTA). The trade and gender chapters in the Canada-Chile and Canada-Israel FTAs establish trade and gender committees to oversee cooperation activities and share experiences in designing programs that encourage women’s participation in national and international trade. Canada is also seeking to include gender chapters in FTA negotiations with the Pacific Alliance and Mercosur. Canada has been a global leader in championing and working with other partners to endorse the Joint Declaration on Trade and Women’s Economic Empowerment. The Buenos Aires Declaration was a decisive step, putting trade and gender on the WTO agenda like never before. The Declaration aims to promote women’s economic empowerment and tackle barriers that hamper their participation in global trade. To achieve this, it provides a platform to better understand the links between trade and women’s empowerment. Canada has hosted the first seminar organized under the Declaration, focusing on gender-disaggregated data and gender-based analysis. A number of workshops as well as research and joint studies have been done, and WTO Members championing the Declaration are currently working on its implementation report to be presented at the 12th Ministerial Conference in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan in June 2020. The report will look at ways to take this work forward.


    Making global trade inroads for women

    OWIT-Toronto has been supportive of Canada’s commitment in pursuing progressive and inclusive trade that benefits all. It actively engages with the government on the different programs supporting women in international trade, operating as a broker for its members to stay in touch with the latest information about government programs and their accessibility. The government, in turn, has been supportive of OWIT-Toronto’s mission, inviting participation in free trade agreement stakeholder consultations, such as the NAFTA renegotiation, and in ongoing dialogue to ensure that trade policies are better aligned with the interest of all Canadians, including women. The government has also supported trade missions organized by OWIT-Toronto to help expand market access for women. These missions provide excellent opportunities to meet valuable new contacts on the ground and build relationships that lead to new business. For example, in 2019, OWIT-Toronto led a Canadian women’s trade mission in the manufacturing, auto and ICT sectors to Monterrey, Mexico, and participants have since reported business wins.


    Building momentum and trading up

    Women’s economic empowerment has gained traction with governments and key stakeholders around the world. The Buenos Aires Declaration is a testament of this trajectory and, as a result, more WTO members are voluntarily incorporating a trade policy gendered lens in their reports, a 66% increase from 2018. Canada remains a trailblazer in championing inclusive trade on the world stage. Canada’s progressive trade agenda has resulted in a great deal of groundwork in policy making, in enhancing women’s capacity to trade, in creating equal opportunities as well as in providing a level playing field for both men and women. However, gaps still remain in ensuring that women are elevated. The inclusion of trade and gender chapters in FTAs is a positive development. According to trade specialists, this will help to raise awareness of gender equality issues in the trade discourse, and highlight the gaps that still exist. It will encourage broader participation by civil society and the private sector in the implementation of agreements, enhance cooperation between parties to the agreements on issues of immediate relevance to women, and strengthen capacity-building, especially when one party is a developing country. However, these chapters are also light and somewhat aspirational now. Milestones or specific goals are not included, dispute-settlement mechanisms do not apply, and potential impacts of trade liberalization pursued under the agreements on women’s well-being and economic empowerment are not addressed. What can governments do next? Convene public-private consultations to discuss specific actions and goals in parallel with trade agreements to improve women’s participation in trade and their economic impact. Address domestic policies like childcare that can impact women’s ability to expand globally. Encourage CUSMA members to develop a model of cooperation to address trade and gender, e.g., establish a trilateral gender and trade committee, including women entrepreneurs, to share best practices and to define concrete goals. Strengthen efforts to include women and historically underrepresented groups in supply chains through supplier diversity programs. Support capacity building of women by expanding and funding women’s enterprise centres and by sponsoring volunteer-run women’s trade organizations like OWIT. Canada is indeed making waves in its approach to take forward a progressive trade agenda to ensure that more women are engaged in trade and reaping the rewards that come with it. Step-by-step, and in a collective effort, we can ensure that nobody is left behind. Engaging and joining the conversations with OWIT, and other like-minded organizations, means fostering export opportunities for women-owned businesses – an investment in the Canadian economy as a whole. And in an increasingly protectionist world, women represent untapped potential to fuel more trade and be new stakeholders for exporting.


    Susan Baka is VP International, and Justine Namara is Director for the Organization of Women in International Trade – Toronto chapter (OWIT-Toronto)

  • Wednesday, March 25, 2020 2:35 PM | Anonymous

    In honor and celebration of this year’s International Women’s Day, the Organization of Women in International Trade (OWIT) – Toronto Chapter partnered with Casa Foundation for International Development, the World Trade Center Toronto and the Toronto Region Board of Trade to host the Women in Business and Leadership Forum. The Forum was focused on supporting women-owned businesses, while empowering women to run businesses through connecting resources (social, capital, human) to ideas, providing a platform to showcase lessons from Canada’s businesswomen and leaders who inspire and empower other women.

    Aligned with the 2020 IWD thematic focus on “Each for Equal: An equal world is an enabled world”, the Forum also served as a knowledge-based learning platform to share successes, best practices, lessons learned, networking, with robust debates on how to cultivate new partners, new relationships and new markets for business growth. Providing welcome remarks, Olutoyin Oyelade, President, Casa Foundation, spoke about her vision for the Women in Business and Leadership Forum, noting, “The Women Inspire Forum is so important when one recalls the gaps in mentorship that women experience and how mentorship and sponsorship can fast-track the journey for other women”.

    Farah Mohamed, Senior VP, Strategic Initiatives, Policy and Public Affairs, at the Toronto Region Board of Trade opened the Forum highlighting the work done by the Toronto Region Board of Trade and World Trade Center Toronto in supporting women entrepreneurs. This included their first all-female Trade Accelerator Program cohort helping women-led or owned businesses create a custom export plan. “If all women were given the opportunity to work in Canada, the GDP would go up by 6%,” she noted. Jill Andrew, MPP, Toronto-St. Paul’s, provided keynote remarks emphasizing the unique opportunity that the IWD celebrations provided in acknowledging and celebrating women and their purpose, as well as challenging the status quo to ensure that innovative women are able to lead, amplify and inspire others especially the young women on the rise in business, trade and entrepreneurship.

    Hon. Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade, delivered keynote remarks highlighting the outstanding efforts made by the Government of Canada in uplifting women, supporting more inclusive trade agreements and investments in affordable child care. Additionally, the roll out of the first Women Entrepreneurship Strategy, a $2Billion investment to double the number of women entrepreneurs by 2025. “According to a report by the McKinsey Institute, Canada can grow our economy by $150 billion by 2026 by simply including women,” she noted, “And yet, women today still face unique barriers to business success, and they remain underrepresented in our economy – with only 16% of Canadian small businesses owned or led by women, and only 11% of women-owned business currently exporting.”

    Hon. Ng further highlighted the Government’s work during a fireside chat on supporting women in business with Wendy Cukier, Founder, Diversity Institute and Professor of Entrepreneurship, Ryerson University. She underscored the Government’s mandate to apply Gender-based Analysis Plus in all decisions made which required analyzing the best way to implement policies and programs based on evidence and an intersectional approach to benefit all Canadians.

    She also elaborated on the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy’s role in advancing women entrepreneurship in Canada, the set-up of the Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub to engage women business support organizations across the country (with organizations including OWIT-Toronto); 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. “Women-owned businesses are still helping to drive the Canadian economy – they represent over $117 billion of economic activity and employ over 1.5 million Canadians.” She noted, adding that, “Investing in women entrepreneurs and fostering export opportunities for women-owned businesses is an investment in the Canadian economy as a whole.”

    OWIT-Toronto President Helen Hemmingsen moderated a case studies session on connecting and enabling women leaders in trade and business. Key takeaways from this session included effective use of trade shows to gain access to new markets, and with support from the Trade Commissioner Service, women entrepreneurs are able to exhibit in foreign trade shows gaining new global markets. An example is Anita Agrawal, CEO, Best Bargains Jewellery. Her business was able to access and thrive in the Tokyo and Seoul markets. Providing further insights, Anita also noted the challenges and opportunities, “It’s hard to navigate as a small business, how can I grow more, how can I export more… networks with other women that support women like OWIT-Toronto and WEConnect Canada are invaluable for peer learning on export strategies, branding and leadership.”

    The full house celebration of the Women Inspire showcase emceed by Emily Mills, Founder, How She Hustles, had a fantastic line-up. With male and female participants from different industries, business, academia, corporate, public and private sectors engaging in interactive panel sessions, a fire side chat and case studies, as well as engaging in fun business games on Kahoot. It was an empowering event, a testament of what happens when women collaborate and connect. The women trailblazers in entrepreneurship and leadership shared many insightful tips on empowering and advancing women in business including in global trade and in leadership. They also recommended practical steps to help forge a more gender-equal world.

    Many thanks to our members for celebrating with us.

  • Monday, March 23, 2020 2:07 PM | Anonymous

    The Women Leadership Expo networking fair hosted by the University of Guelph Humber (UofGH), as part of the 2020 International Women’s Day(IWD) celebrations, marked another successful collaboration with OWIT-Toronto, where students were offered networking and professional development opportunities. Coming into this year's IWD events, celebrating women's achievements and raising awareness against bias felt more meaningful than ever as solidarity touches new peaks every day. By engaging UofGH students, Helen Hemmingsen, Justine Namara, Alina Grigorescu and Ledia Dervishaj of OWIT-Toronto presented our long tradition, global exposure and membership benefits to advance women in the competitive business world.

    In addition, students were encouraged to visit OWIT-Toronto’s website and social media, where they can discover the organization’s initiatives and events and access the free online resources As part of OWIT- Toronto’s efforts of supporting the next generation of women professionals and entrepreneurs, discounted annual membership fees are offered to students to facilitate access to specialized education, training, mentorship and networking.

    OWIT-Toronto has made a tradition of supporting women throughout their unique challenges and opportunities. From sharing real life experiences to presenting new trade challenges, OWIT’s amazing network of leaders has been amplifying the voices from diverse women entrepreneurs and professionals for over 20 years.

  • Monday, March 23, 2020 1:54 PM | Anonymous

    In February, the Government of Canada launched public consultations to seek the views of Canadians on the possible modernization of the Canada-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement (CUFTA). The focus of these consultations is to seek feedback on new areas that could be included in a modernized CUFTA, such as chapters on trade in services, trade and gender, investment, and SMEs, as well as potential updates to existing chapters in order to bring the Agreement up-to-date with Canada’s most recent agreements. WIT-Toronto was invited to make a submission, which was completed in March by Maria Marchyshyn, Advisor to the Board, and Susan Baka, VP International, on behalf of OWIT-Toronto.

    The CUFTA entered into force for Canada on August 1, 2017, eliminating duties on 99.9% of goods imports from Ukraine, and 86.8% of Canadian goods exports to Ukraine. Bilateral merchandise trade has remained strong since entry into force, totalling $346 million in 2018.

    The CUFTA contains a review clause, in which Canada and Ukraine agreed to review the Agreement within two years of entry into force, with a view to adding additional provisions that were not in the original Agreement, including investment and services. In July 2019, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy publicly announced their agreement to expand the CUFTA.

    As part of its Trade Diversification Strategy, Canada has advanced an inclusive approach to trade in its recent free trade agreements – through the inclusion of provisions regarding labour, gender, the environment, Indigenous peoples, and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The potential modernization of CUFTA presents an opportunity to add, or improve trade provisions within the existing CUFTA to help ensure that a broad range of stakeholders are able to benefit from the Agreement. Previous modernization negotiations such as the Canada-Chile Free Trade Agreement (CCFTA), and the modernized Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement (CIFTA) are examples where Canada has successfully sought the addition of inclusive provisions, including those on SMEs and on Trade and Gender.

    Canada is committed to pursuing an inclusive approach to trade in recognition that trade policies and agreements need to respond and contribute more meaningfully to broader economic, social and environmental policy priorities. This means seeking trade policies that are responsible, transparent and inclusive.

  • Wednesday, March 18, 2020 4:45 PM | Anonymous

    The Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has resulted in a global health crisis posing grave threats to human life, and is having far-reaching consequences of major economic disruptions. In today’s world of globalization and interconnectedness, the spread of the virus has gravely impacted international trade, especially with the regional and global value chain linkages. Efforts to control and quarantine the disease have also resulted in restrictions on travel and public gatherings.

    During these unprecedented times, the first priority is clearly to keep people as healthy and safe as possible. In light of this, OWIT-Toronto will be postponing all planned events for the time being. We thank you for your patience and understanding, and encourage you to visit our website and social media platforms (LinkedIn and Twitter) for any updates, news and trade information.

    The spread of the coronavirus has left businesses around the world counting costs. To mitigate and manage the economic fallout caused by the global pandemic, the Government of Canada has launched a new webpage – offering Canadian businesses a one-stop-shop to navigate the effects on their businesses and operations. This includes information on employee support, financial implications, business travel and events, and doing business in international markets. More information and resources for Canadian businesses is available at the Trade Commissioner Service website.

    Additionally, Export Development Canada has increased their internal capabilities to respond to the concerns of Canadian exporters. More information is available in their FAQs on what Canadian exporters need to know about the coronavirus (COVID-19) and latest press release.

    Toronto Mayor John Tory has also announced an economic task force to ‘help protect Toronto’s economic success in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    As we navigate these difficult times, we are wishing everyone good health and well-being.


    Sincerely,
    The OWIT-Toronto Board of Directors


  • Tuesday, March 03, 2020 4:42 PM | Anonymous

    Women’s trade group launches innovative social media campaign
    Toronto, 3 March 2020

    In commemoration of 2020 International Women’s Day (IWD), the Organization of Women in International Trade – Toronto (OWIT–Toronto) is launching a social media campaign – Women Inspire – to help change perceptions that entrepreneurial success is typically male dominated and “one size fits all”. The campaign will capture the vibrant work and successes of a variety of women entrepreneurs and professionals and will serve to disrupt the status quo, change the narrative and amplify the voices from diverse women entrepreneurs and professionals.

    Leading the unique social media campaign is past OWIT–Toronto President and CEO, Best Bargains, Anita Agrawal, who is also featured in the inspirational book, “Fearless. Girls with Dreams, Women with Vision”, being launched as part of IWD.

    “As a professor at the School of Business at Centennial College, I often ask my students whom they admire the most and what success means to them,” says Anita. “Many of the students mention wealthy entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Elon Musk. With this social media campaign, I want to change that. I want my students and other young people to know that success can mean many different things and that women entrepreneurs are leading that change. You can have success as an entrepreneur or in various professions. The scale can vary, and that’s okay.”

    As part of a premier global trade association across the world, OWIT–Toronto is a 20-year-old non-profit professional organization designed to promote women doing business in international trade. Through networking, educational and professional growth opportunities, the organization helps to build members’ expertise in the international trade arena. Members include women entrepreneurs, service providers, trade practitioners, business women involved in international trade as well as students passionate about international trade.

    OWIT–Toronto Co-Founder and Vice President International, Susan Baka, reflects on OWIT’s foundation, noting the need to strengthen women entrepreneurship and engagement in international trade, and to create sustainable businesses.

    Likewise, there was a need to step up and tell women inspiring stories of entrepreneurial and leadership successes. Changing the narrative around what entrepreneurial success looks like with an engendered lens meant having a wider mix of diverse voices.

    “From its inception, OWIT–Toronto has worked to increase the visibility and recognition of women trailblazers in international trade through our prestigious Annual Gala awards,” she says.  “We celebrate the amazing accomplishments of women entrepreneurs and leaders across a variety of industry sectors to inspire and empower other women entrepreneurs, leaders, aspiring leaders and youth.”


    The social media campaign also serves to break up the stereotype tales of labelling women in specific sectors such as retail and personal services industries where profit margins are usually much lower. As part of IWD celebrations, the campaign will promote awareness raising, shining a spotlight on the pivotal role that business and markets can play in advancing gender equality.

    Today, women are leaders in technology and innovation and in the specific sectors such as STEM that were originally perceived as male dominated,” says Helen Hemmingsen, OWIT–Toronto President. “Through OWIT’s global network, you are exposed to a wide range of global business contacts, resources for learning and information from our global community. Through sharing these resources, contacts and promoting sector specific trade missions like in STEM, we are encouraging women and inspiring girls to take advantage of technological transformations and innovations changing our world today.” 

    With the ‘Women Inspire’ social media campaign, OWIT – Toronto joins people around the world who are galvanizing for a future that is gender equal.

    Join the online conversation on twitter using the hashtags #IWD2020 #WomenInspire and following @OWITTORONTO. The social media campaign will also be launched at the Women in Business and Leadership Forum held on 5 March 2020 at the Toronto Region Board of Trade, and will be run throughout the year.


    To participate in this social media campaign, contact OWIT – Toronto on twitter @OWITTORONTO, or email: info@owit-toronto.ca or on LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/company/owit-to.



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