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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, March 18, 2021 10:44 AM | Anonymous

    Look where OWIT-Toronto members have been featured this year:

    • Check out this Tedx talk by Anita Agrawal, owner of Best Bargains Jewellery and Past President of OWIT-Toronto, and this news piece featuring her.
    • OWIT-TO President Helen Hemmingsen represented OWIT at the joint Casa Foundation/OWIT Women Inspire 2021: Women in Business & Leadership Forum, and at the launch of the first virtual Trade Accelerator Program (TAP) for women both during International Women’s Day week.
    • KC Goudiam of B2B Match spoke at events celebrating International Women’s Day, including Women Inspire 2021.
    • Several OWIT-Toronto members, including Diane Reko, and Susan Baka are included in the Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub’s See it. Be it. Database. It’s a resource featuring 1000+ profiles of successful women entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds, sectors, experiences and regions across Canada who have received awards for their accomplishments. Its tagline? Because women need to see successful women entrepreneurs so they can dare become one.
    • Congratulations to Jessica Horwitz on becoming a partner at Bennett Jones. Jessica specializes in international trade, customs, and regulatory compliance. She represents Canadian and international clients in trade disputes and investigations, assisting clients with import/export issues including customs compliance, export controls and economic sanctions, and anti-corruption compliance and international investment matters. Jessica has been an invaluable member of OWIT-Toronto and we appreciate the ongoing support and sponsorship from Jessica and her colleagues at Bennett Jones as corporate members of OWIT-Toronto.
  • Thursday, March 18, 2021 10:15 AM | Anonymous

    From submitting consultation papers to participating in stakeholder groups, the past year has been a busy period for OWIT-Toronto’s Trade Policy Committee members. And the upcoming months promise more of the same.

    Here is where we have participated since the fall of 2020:

    • Gender and Trade Advisory Group (GTAG) to provide suggestions to Global Affairs Canada (GAC) for new provisions in free trade agreements (FTAs) and to its Sub-Committee to provide feedback on gender-based analysis (GBA+) of FTAs and trade policy
    • Virtual business roundtable (Feb 2021) to share views on a possible comprehensive economic partnership agreement (CEPA) with Indonesia
    • USMCA SME Counselling Network Pilot Program: to strengthen ties across borders and share best practices with other country counterparts
    • Submission on a possible Canada-Indonesia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (Feb 2021)

    In the coming months, we will be submitting comments on an anticipated bilateral Canada-U.K. free trade agreement and a possible U.K. accession to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). We will also consider possible input to the G7 and G20 meetings (June 2021) and to the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference (November 2021) at which Canada will be proposing a gender and trade related roadmap.

  • Tuesday, March 02, 2021 9:46 AM | Anonymous

    This is a gentle reminder to all of our OWIT-Toronto members to update and refresh your profile.  You can get access via your log-in at the top right hand side of the home page.  Your profile will be included in our Members Directory, which is accessible only to other OWIT-Toronto members.  A photo will greatly enhance your profile.

    Contact us at info@owit-toronto.ca if you have any questions or need assistance.

    Helen Hemmingsen, President

  • Tuesday, January 26, 2021 1:58 PM | Anonymous

    What is your Key Advice To Small Business Owners For 2021?

    This past year has been an incredibly challenging time for small businesses, which have faced the pandemic with extraordinary resilience, innovation, and recognition that above all, we must all prioritize the health and safety of those around us. With the vaccine rollout, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

    From the beginning, our government committed to doing everything it takes to support small businesses and entrepreneurs until we defeat the virus. I encourage eligible businesses to continue using support programs available to them– like the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, Canada Emergency Business Account, and the new Canada Emergency Rent Support – all of which are critical in enabling our businesses and economy to weather the storm and prepare for a quick and full recovery.

    Looking further ahead, we know that advancing digital trade and e-commerce is one of the best ways we can support our businesses, introduce them to more customers domestically and internationally, and help them bounce back.

    In addition, our government is also focused on creating and expanding programs and resources that help more entrepreneurs see themselves as traders globally and bring their innovative Canadian products and services far and wide. We are taking a Team Canada approach to this and ensuring all businesses have access to our Trade Toolbox: Canada’s Trade Commissioner Service, Export Development Canada, the Business Development Bank of Canada, the Canadian Commercial Corporation – all of which are there to help Canadian businesses continue to succeed internationally.

    We cannot do this alone. To all the business owners and entrepreneurs who have stepped up to support our communities in one of the most difficult periods in modern history – thank you. Know that you can count on us to continue providing crucial supports to get you through this pandemic and be well-positioned for future success.

    See the original article here.

  • Tuesday, January 19, 2021 10:48 AM | Anonymous

    EDC is organizing a webinar series on exploring opportunities in Mexico, and first session "Doing business in the agri-food sector in Mexico" was a success!

    If you are interested in the market and missed the first part of the series:

    Here is the recording of the event for a limited period of time.

    Here is the presentation of the event.

    The second session of the series "Overview of Food Labelling Requirements in Mexico for Retail Sale" was held on 21 January 2020, Thursday.

    Here is the recording of the event for a limited period of time.

    Here is the presentation of the event.

    You can also register for the third session here.

  • Thursday, January 14, 2021 9:11 AM | Anonymous

    Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a cabinet shuffle Tuesday that changed the leadership of senior portfolios such as Global Affairs and Transport and announced that minister Navdeep Bains is leaving federal politics.

    The move will add fuel to speculation that the Liberal government is seriously considering the possibility of a spring election, even though the party was re-elected with a minority mandate a little over a year ago.

    François-Philippe Champagne will move from Global Affairs in order to replace Mr. Bains as head of Innovation, Science and Economic Development. Marc Garneau is being moved from Transport to Global Affairs.

    Mississauga Centre Liberal MP Omar Alghabra is being promoted into cabinet to replace Mr. Garneau at Transport and Jim Carr returns to cabinet as a minister without a department while continuing in his role as special representative for the prairies. Mr. Carr had left cabinet following the 2019 election due to a cancer diagnosis.

    A senior government insider said the shuffle was triggered by Mr. Bains’ decision to step down from his position as Innovation Minister and leave federal politics. The insider said the Prime Minister was taken aback by Mr. Bains’ decision. Mr. Bains told Mr. Trudeau that his wife wanted to get back to work and he wanted to spend more time with his daughters who are becoming teenagers. He told Mr. Trudeau it was time to give back to his family, the insider said.

    See full article on the Globe and Mail website.

  • Thursday, December 03, 2020 2:48 PM | Anonymous

    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.

    About OWIT

    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).

  • Tuesday, November 24, 2020 8:32 PM | Anonymous

    OWIT-Toronto is partnering with Toronto Business Development Centre (TBDC) to foster women entrepreneurship, empowerment and advancement in international trade. The partnership seeks to leverage existing resources, expertise and capabilities to nurture women-led businesses to grow and tap into domestic, regional and international business opportunities.

    TBDC was established in 1990 by the City of Toronto with support from the Ministry of Economic Development of Trade in Ontario, as one of the designated Canadian business incubators under the Start-up Visa Program. TBDC has been locally, nationally and internationally recognized for its efforts in nurturing the growth of new and emerging businesses in the Greater Toronto Area. It has also been acclaimed as one of Canada’s leading business incubators in fostering an entrepreneurial community, providing business support and establishing investor relations. TBDC has helped over 9000+ start-ups (domestic and international) over the years.

    As part of the OWIT-Toronto and TBDC partnership, TBDC will be offering business advisory services on a case-by-case need-basis to OWIT-Toronto members. TBDC will also offer educational information sessions including market briefings and intelligence reports about international markets as well as a facilitation to related networks.

    Neha Bahl, Executive Director and President of TBDC warmly welcomed this collaboration. “TBDC's mandate is supporting businesses that contribute to advancing career opportunities and empowerment for women. OWIT-Toronto is an important organization that creates opportunities for women to develop their leadership skills and visibility, and we are very proud to collaborate and foster women entrepreneurship,” she noted.

    Helen Hemmingsen, President of OWIT-Toronto expressed pleasure to work in partnership with TBDC. “We are very pleased to partner with TBDC to support and advance women entrepreneurship and participation in international trade. Through OWIT-Toronto, TBDC’s Start-up Visa women entrepreneurs and clients will be able to have a soft-landing pad to develop and take their businesses global utilizing OWIT-Toronto’s global networks, resources and export education,” Helen said. “Likewise, OWIT-Toronto members will have the opportunity to seek insights from TBDC’s international clients and acquire knowledge on the dynamism of doing business in respective international markets.”

    The strategic partnership between OWIT-Toronto and TBDC is quite timely and beneficial especially now that the COVID- 19 pandemic has put women’s entrepreneurship at a greater risk. Collaborating with like-minded organizations that foster women’s entrepreneurship creates pathways to navigate the crisis for both OWIT-Toronto’s members and TBDC’s clients. The partnership provides for information sharing, best practices and lessons learned which are crucial for businesses to pivot, stay the course and expand in domestic and international markets.

  • Tuesday, November 10, 2020 8:28 AM | Anonymous

    Members of our Trade Policy Committee and Board have been busy after receiving a number of invitations from the federal government to provide input as stakeholders on gender and trade policy, on Investment facilitation and on feminist foreign policy. Here is where OWIT-Toronto is participating:

    Gender and Trade Advisory Group. The Group has been created to play a pivotal role in advancing important conversations on trade and gender by engaging Canadians from all sectors and regions across Canada. This initiative aims to provide a forum for government and experts to hear from women-owned businesses on their challenges, concerns, and successes; receive feedback on our Trade and Gender chapter provisions for trade agreements and other trade policy issues; and build knowledge and capacity of the Gender and Trade Advisory Group members on trade policy. The plan is also to establish a sub-group that focuses on Gender Based Analysis of Free Trade Agreements (FTAs).

    The inaugural meeting took place on October 28. Trade Policy Committee Co-Chair Susan Baka expressed the hope that that gender chapters included in FTAs, although certainly a good step, should move beyond being just aspirational in nature and next include clear measurements.

    World Trade Organization (WTO) framework on investment facilitation: VP Partnerships Justine Namara and Trade Policy Committee Co-Chair Maria Marchyshyn prepared a very comprehensive OWIT- Toronto submission on a potential World Trade Organization (WTO) framework on investment facilitation. A group of WTO Members, including Canada, is holding discussions on a WTO framework for development to improve the transparency and predictability of investment measures; streamline and speed up administrative procedures and requirements; and enhance international cooperation and stakeholder relations.

    Canada launched public consultations to hear from a broad range of partners, stakeholders, and individual Canadians to help define Canada’s priorities and inform future decisions on a potential WTO framework, particularly in areas of creating a more efficient, predictable, and investment-friendly business climate. By getting rid of unnecessary "red tape", it will be easier for businesses, particularly SMEs, to grow and to create good jobs for Canadians. The information gained from the public consultations will help inform Canada’s approach to the development of the framework. It is anticipated that formal WTO negotiations on the framework will begin in the coming months. The negotiations will not address market access, investment protection, or investor-state dispute settlement.

    OWIT-TO’s submission addressed investment barriers and particular challenges faced by SMEs abroad, along with recommendations for a WTO framework.

    North American SME Counseling Network Pilot Program: OWIT-TO has accepted an invitation to be part of this trilateral Canada-U.S.-Mexico initiative to establish a network of small and medium sized enterprise (SME) counselling organizations for a pilot program. The objective of te program is to connect SME counselling groups operating in North America to facilitate the exchange of information and best practices, as well as engage in joint activities with the ultimate aim of building a peer network.

    This initiative is one of the first activities proposed under the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA) Committee on SME issues, which is tasked with promoting increased trade and investment opportunities for SMEs, including through cooperation on support initiatives, joint activities to promote SMEs owned by under-represented groups, and the exchange of information and best practices.

    Dialogue on Canada’s Feminist Foreign Policy White Paper. Over the last four years, the Canadian Government has made advancing diversity and inclusion, including gender equality and women’s empowerment, vital elements of its domestic and foreign policies.  In this context, it has been applying a feminist approach across its international policy, advocacy and program efforts, including in diplomacy, trade, security, international assistance and consular services.  This reflects a belief that fostering rights- based, inclusive and open societies is an effective way to build a safer, more sustainable and prosperous world.

    Minister of Foreign Affairs François-Philippe Champagne announced a few months ago his intention to strengthen the foundations of Canada’s feminist foreign policy by working with civil society on a white paper.  Our Trade Policy Committee will be providing input.

  • Thursday, September 17, 2020 10:08 PM | Anonymous


    OWIT-Toronto is partnering with B2BeeMatch to help small- and medium-sized women-led enterprises to connect and network with leading local, domestic and global businesses. The partnership was formally announced at OWIT-Toronto’s complimentary virtual event, “COVID-19: A Call for Digital Transformation” in September, which brought together industry thought leaders and technology subject matter experts to share knowledge and insights on innovative solutions to embrace the accelerating shift toward digital business.

    B2BeeMatch.com is a membership-based business matchmaking platform launched in 2020 where small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) can connect in order to outsource, scale, network and find clients. Using a proprietary algorithm, B2BeeMatch carefully matches growing businesses and service firms based on their needs and offerings.

    B2BeeMatch facilitates business networking and lead generation at the local, domestic, and global levels, and vets every company that joins the platform. As part of the partnership, B2BeeMatch is currently offering free memberships to encourage key company decision-makers—such as members of OWIT-Toronto—to join the growing platform.

    Karima-Catherine (KC) Goundiam, founder and CEO of B2BeeMatch.com emphasizes B2BeeMatch’s mission to help SMEs thrive, highlighting, “As a business owner, I know how tough it can be to scale and expand, particularly internationally. Under COVID-19, with travel restrictions, it’s especially challenging. I created B2BeeMatch to help us all connect in a way that no other platform does, and while I founded the platform before the pandemic, it’s growing organically under these new conditions and that growth benefits every member who joins.”

    Helen Hemmingsen, President of OWIT-Toronto Chapter, warmly welcomed this collaboration. “OWIT-Toronto is very pleased to partner with B2BeeMatch to help generate new industry connections for women-led businesses through intelligent matchmaking,” Helen said. “With the unprecedented challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, digital adoption, marketing and innovative tools are crucial to fuel international trade and build business resilience. These are critical to ensure business scalability and readiness in a trustworthy environment.”

    The B2BeeMatch platform was created by and for SMEs. OWIT-Toronto members can sign up for next-level business matchmaking on the B2BeeMatch website.

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