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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.

  • Monday, August 03, 2020 1:01 PM | Anonymous

    OWIT-Toronto hosted webinars in June on two of Canada’s major free trade agreements (FTAs) in order to help members better understand how to take advantage of them. Supported by Global Affairs Canada and the Ontario government, the first one focused on the Canada-US-Mexico Trade Agreement (CUSMA), often referred to as the new NAFTA, and was held prior to its official entry into force on July 1. It featured senior Canadian trade officials based in the three countries, who outlined key changes in the agreement and opportunities for Canadian companies. The second webinar – sponsored by the Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub - highlighted specific opportunities for women exporters flowing from Canada’s FTA with the European Union - the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) - and the experiences of two women entrepreneurs successfully exporting there.

    CUSMA webinar (June 3, 2020): Making the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA) Work for Canadian Exporters: Perspectives from Canadian Trade Commissioners on-the ground

    Moderator: Aylin Luisi, Director, OWIT-Toronto, and VP, Public Affairs, UPS Canada


    Cristina Popovici, Deputy Director Trade Negotiations – North America (TNP), Global Affairs Canada

    • One of key objectives was to modernize and improve the agreement where possible.
    • Some of the gains include liberalized trade and good regulatory practices, new Digital Chapter, Labour and Environment Chapters with dispute resolution built in; rules of origin strengthened for autos and parts and an increase in regional value content; electronic processes to facilitate cross-border movement of goods; and IP enhancements
    • For Services and Investments, Canada preserves preferential access to US for professionals
    • Challenges of negotiations included tariffs imposed on Canadian steel and aluminum by the US.
    • Formal review mechanism – to be reviewed every 6 years

    Susan Harper, Canadian Consul General in Miami, Florida (Susan.Harper@international.gc.ca )

    • As part of Global Affairs Canada, the Trade Commissioner Service (TCS) has great initiatives to help Canadian companies to navigate the complexities of international markets:
    • Key sectors in Florida include ICT, defence, cleantech and health
    • COVID-19 is hitting Florida mostly in the sectors of tourism and hospitality; the supply chains are stressed but have survived.
    • Florida's organizations are looking into new opportunities as assistance to business has continued.
    • Why look at Florida as an export destination – 3 rd largest population state and 4 th largest for economy, has a very trade dependent economy and open reception to international partners, gateway to Latin America and Caribbean; Canada and Florida are very important trading partners; Florida ports and airports are very well connected. Florida has an extensive multimodal transportation system; All the big Canadian banks and Desjardins are very active there
    • Supplier diversity has a lot of profile in Florida - women are encouraged to look into supplier diversity options as a way to enter the market
    • Go For the Greens Conference is where TCS works well with Canadian women entrepreneurs.
    • Trade missions will continue but may be virtual this year
    • World Trade Centre is working to organize a trade show maybe partly online and partly on site for Canadian businesses interested in Florida, Latin America and Caribbean markets.
    • Tips on doing business in Florida – avoid politics talk; give yourself a competitive advantage by accessing resources who speak Spanish and Portuguese since South Florida is truly trilingual; health, food, and energy security are very important in Florida especially during COVID – be very aware of that dimension of the Canada-Florida relationship

    Frederick Caldwell, Commercial Consul and Senior Trade Commissioner in Monterrey NL, Mexico (frederick.caldwell@international.gc.ca)

    • Canada has trade representatives in Monterrey, Guadalajara and Mexico City.
    • Priority sectors for Canadian businesses in Northeast Mexico are:
      • Automotive
      • Information and Communications Technologies (local companies looking for AI, blockchain, mobility, cybersecurity, telehealth)
      • Agri-food (gluten free, diabetic and gourmet foods are good opportunities for women exporter; Mexico City trade office has good connections with hotels)
      • Clean Technologies
      • Education (one of quickest growth areas – online platforms have good prospects)
      • Aerospace
      • Good opportunities exist to enter into supply chains
    • The local manufacturing industry re-started operations mid May , but the auto sector is struggling with weak demand on a worldwide level.
    • Owit-Monterrey and Toronto are working on a virtual trade mission

    CETA Webinar- June 23, 2020: It’s Not Only about the US Anymore: Women Traders and Canada’s Free Trade Agreement with Europe (CETA)

    Moderator: Susan Baka, VP International ,OWIT-TO, & President, Bay Communications & Marketing Inc.

    • EU is a market of over 5oo million consumers
    • CETA eliminates 98% of duties on Canadian goods
    • Improves access for trade in services and simplifies entry procedures
    • Commitment from both the Canadian and EU governments to help women expand internationally and take advantage of CETA
    • Many women’s business organizations exist in the EU that can be approached as potential partners.


    Stéphane Lambert, Senior Trade Commissioner, Mission of Canada to the European Union, Brussels (Stephane.Lambert@international.gc.ca )

    • Three key reasons why CETA is highly relevant to Canadian women exporters: 1. EU is an economy power asset of high-income markets with plenty of opportunities for Canadian exporters; 2. profile of the opportunities aligns well with the strengths of Canadian women explorers, providing opportunities in niche sectors where women excel, including services; and 3. CETA addresses non-tariff barriers to trade that omen exporters are sensitive to, such as regulations, compliance and customs clearance, making it easier to access the benefits.
    • Other advantages of CETA: has mobility provisions that make it smooth to enter the EU for a period of up to a year to deliver a contract and to establish a presence in the EU to move staff between Canada and the EU; opens up public procurement at all levels of government to Canadian businesses
    • Key trends that match the strengths of women exporters include: selling digitally (demand for e-commerce, mobility solutions, software as a service, telework, building a more resilient workplace); modernization of healthcare (need for telehealth, digitization of health records, health data management, health wearables, e-help for home care platforms and applications for smartphones); building a more sustainable economy/ethical consumerism/, emphasis on green (demand for more sustainably sourced products and natural ingredients, natural cosmetics like soaps, sustainably sourced fish and seafood, responsible packaging); healthy eating and healthy living (demand for organic and gluten-free foods, healthy snacks, sustainable household products)
    • Resources to help women leverage CETA include: regional offices of the Trade Commissioner Service, including a dedicated person to connect with Canadian women exporters; in-market trade commissioners; Business Women in International Trade activities within the TCS, including an annual newsletter and trade missions for women; the women’s ecosystem, including OWIT and women’s networks in the EU; and the broad trade ecosystem, including EDC and BDC, and logistics providers such as custom brokers and freight forwarders.

    Shamira Jaffer, CEO, Signifi Solutions Inc., Toronto

    • Signifi is an innovative robotic business to transform the retail landscape focusing on management, loss prevention and retail automation, with exports at 95%, of which 9% is to Europe.
    • Europe is attractive because of the large size of the market, the cultural fit - with Canadians well liked there – and streamlined processes under CETA (such as no tariffs).
    • Tips for success: have a local representative; access the free services of the TCS for help and advice (will make sure you don’t fall into any pitfalls like employment rules); tap into CanExport funding for things like translating websites into foreign languages, creating marketing brochures, attending trade shows, and hiring a local consultant to help set up an entity; and find something you have in common with potential clients because Europeans put more efforts into getting to know you on a more personal level.

    Manon Pilon, President & CEO, Laboratoires Druide® & EuropeLab Laboratory®; Founder, Derme & Co., Montreal

    • Large manufacturer of organic certified skincare products, using sustainable and ethically sourced ingredients, with divisions for spa, personal care and private label skin care.
    • Chose France to export to because of language and appreciation for organic products.
    • Certifying with the largest organization in the world was helpful to penetrate the market. That combined with the high Canadian standards for natural skincare products placed the company in a very favourable position.
    • Biggest challenge was to register the product and ensure that the label content resonated with consumers. Local help with regulatory expertise was sought.
    • Tips for success: Utilize Trade Commissioners who are like partners (were very helpful in making introductions for her company to key players in the Parisian market like Four Seasons); attend trade shows and meet people in your industry; and join organizations, network and help each other.
  • Sunday, August 02, 2020 11:11 AM | Anonymous

    The prestigious Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Partnership Grant of over $2.4 million was recently awarded to the Diversity Institute. The grant money will be used to undertake a research project over six years examining the barriers faced by women and diverse groups such as immigrants, racialized people, indigenous people and persons with disabilities. It will also lead on strategies to strengthen an inclusive innovative and entrepreneurship ecosystem. The project has a goal of engaging more than 1000 stakeholder organizations and 100,000 entrepreneurs.

    The Diversity Institute bid was supported by OWIT-Toronto. The grant is quite timely to help bring to light a gender and diversity lens to entrepreneurship, identify barriers and, more importantly, recommend practices to overcome these barriers in order to drive forward an inclusive economic recovery. The research project will leverage work being done by the Future Skills Centre and the Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub.

    “We know that women and diverse groups continue to face systemic barriers,” says Prof Wendy Cukier, Founder Diversity Institute, Ted Rogers School of Management and Professor of Entrepreneurship, Ryerson University. “As Canada responds to the pandemic, preliminary research shows that women and diverse groups are disproportionality impacted and there is a risk that we will lose the traction we have gained on gender and diversity.”

  • Sunday, August 02, 2020 11:08 AM | Anonymous

    The Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub (WEKH), in partnership with the Forum for Women Entrepreneurs (FWE), launched a new sharing intuitive platform built by SheEO. The platform provides a support system and network for women entrepreneurs to overcome the challenges and impact of COVID-19 on their businesses. It also helps to sustain the great strides women entrepreneurs in Canada have made and continues to encourage and empower those entering the field for the first time.

    The WEKH/FWE Sharing Platform allows members of the women entrepreneurship ecosystem to draw from the knowledge and reach of the community and share their own learnings to access business opportunities and collaboratively tackle challenges. Through the platform, if you have a specific need, post an Ask that someone who can help may respond to. If you can share something beneficial with another member of the community, offer a Give.

    Facilitated Ask/Give sessions are running each Thursday in August from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m. EST. Join the community and learn more about the platform and how you can use it to connect with your members and clients, and women entrepreneurs across Canada.

  • Sunday, August 02, 2020 11:04 AM | Anonymous

    The 2020 Inaugural Women’s Global Trade Empowerment Forum presented by the US Commercial Service under the theme “Expanding Trade in North America & Beyond” was kickstarted on July 28. The six-part digital series is a must-attend event for women entrepreneurs in Canada, the US and Mexico who wish to boldly grow their business into new markets.

    In light of the implementation of the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA), the forum provides an opportunity to gain the tools, skills and networks to build an export strategy and develop business connections. The first day of the virtual forum was focused on “USMCA and the Future of Trade in North America: Expanding and Diversifying Sales” which highlighted perspectives from government on CUSMA’s business impact and private sector women business leaders on how the Trade Agreement could help to expand and diversify sales throughout the region.

    The session focused on an integrated approach to women’s economic empowerment, the utilization of CUSMA as a powerful trade catalyst to ensure that North America remains an economic powerhouse and CUSMA provisions that elevate women’s voices and entrepreneurship, making women SMEs more competitive. Key trade chapters that advance women’s interests were discussed including the SME chapter, labour, customs and trade facilitation chapter, as well as digital trade and investment chapters.

    Key tips and strategies were shared on leveraging exporting as a long-term growth strategy, integrating ecommerce as a key driver of this strategy, becoming conversant with government programs and ensuring a high level of due diligence when conducting business.

    OWIT-International is a proud partner of the Forum. Complimentary registrations are open for the next virtual series.

    August 11

    12:00-1:00PM EDT

    Financing the Deal and Getting Paid

    August 25

    12:00-1:00PM EDT

    Thriving in the Digital Trade Economy Under USMCA

    September 1

    12:00-1:00PM EDT

    Making USMCA Work for You: Customs & Rules of Origin

    September 10

    12:00-1:00PM EDT

    Improving the Legal Framework

    September 22

    12:00-1:30PM EDT

    Protecting your most Important Asset - Your IP, Woman-Owned Business Success Stories

  • Sunday, August 02, 2020 10:49 AM | Anonymous

    Lyse Moreau has continued the strong legacy and tradition of a woman-owned firm thriving in the Niagara region. International Sew Right (ISR) was founded by Lyse’s mother, Claudette Gauthier, in 1983. Following in her mother’s footsteps, Lyse began working at ISR in the 1980s, and became partners with her mother in 2001, making positive changes to get ISR ready to export. In 2006, she became the sole owner and, in 2011, ISR became a 100% woman-owned manufacturing facility.

    Her 8,500 square-foot company facility is located in the industrial park near Chippawa in Niagara, with a dedicated team of eight employees, focused on importing and exporting uniquely improved safety garments and products. ISR’s core business over the years has been dedicated to custom-designing and manufacturing safety clothing, focusing on proximity suits, arc flash protection, high heat, fire-retardant and high-visibility clothing, coveralls, bib overalls, shop coats, aprons, sleeves, head protection, welders clothing and tarps, gloves, parkas, bomber jackets, and up to about 400 different types of safety products.

    Under her leadership, Lyse has restructured operations in targeted ways that include upgrading the accounting and purchasing departments, automating cutting and sewing areas as well as redesigning the shipping and receiving departments.

    Industry memberships such as those with OWIT-Toronto and the Niagara Industrial Association have been crucial to business growth. They have provided support networks, information and have supported wider market expansion, resource mobilization efforts and coordination in a sector that keeps booming.

    “Business growth is always a top priority. ISR’s membership in OWIT-Toronto and the Niagara Industrial Association has been instrumental,” Lyse says. “Niagara Industrial Association members are all involved in some type of manufacturing, and they provide a good support system and information in the manufacturing field, which saves us a lot of time and is greatly appreciated.”

    [left] Lyse Moreau graces the cover of the Niagara Industrial Association Magazine. [right] Lyse and team are featured in the Niagara Industrial Association Magazine.

    Stepping into the gap, taking gigantic steps to product pivoting

    Focusing on niche products and operating as a Tier 1 and Tier 2 company ready to assist anyone with a safety concern has meant more business wins for Lyse. This has been reflected in the number of accolades that Lyse and her company have received, including: the 2004 Niagara Entrepreneur of the Year Award; 2014 Ontario Health and Safety Golden Award (Reader’s Choice Award for Designing and Manufacturing Safety Apparel and Aluminized Clothing); 2015 Chamber of Commerce Entrepreneur of the year; 2015 Women’s Distinguish Award for Achievements in the Industry; and 2019 The Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce Excellence in Manufacturing Award, among others.

    Like every other business around the world, ISR was affected by the unique challenges caused by COVID-19. Despite challenges with delays to receive fabrics and textiles and key raw materials for ISR’s manufactured safety products, the company has also seen larger volume orders from companies requiring to stock up on inventory. Her company further rose to the challenge and championed the COVID-19 support program, which signalled ISR’s product pivot to making masks and a variety of other medical supplies including PET masks, face masks, hand sanitizers, gowns, lab coats and gloves. Lyse has since donated thousands of masks to frontline workers in the healthcare sector and to different communities in Ontario.

    With the product pivot, ISR has since received orders to make masks from cotton, polycotton and fire-retardant fabrics for the healthcare industry. These masks are manufactured in different styles, colours, and are reaching families, nursing homes, hospitals, construction sites, foundries and other areas where they are desperately needed.

    Leading by example, ISR was also quick to adopt the health and safety guidelines from medical experts, spacing all sewing machines at least six feet apart from one another, providing workers with protective items like gloves and masks, as well as following a strict cleaning schedule that included disinfecting surfaces that were regularly touched.

    ISR’s domestic manufacturing base provided agility and speed to respond to the pandemic and rapidly shift to mask production. Lyse’s great oversight to restock materials before the pandemic also meant that their work was not stalled due to reliance on international vendors who couldn’t temporarily ship their products. A key lesson for Lyse and others in the manufacturing field has been an increased emphasis on self-sufficiency that will encourage domestic producers to expand their operations and resist offshoring.

    “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.”

    [left] ISR team at work. [right] Lyse launches the ‘COVER UP AGAINST COVID-19 CANADA’ support program, bringing together volunteers and the Niagara region community in an inclusive community engagement to sew masks to help with the shortage during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Expanding ISR’s international footprint

    Lyse has been strategic in positioning ISR to ensure a competitive advantage in the global marketplace. ISR sells across Canada with a growing customer base in the US, and exports to Brazil and India, as well as plans to export to Mexico. To access the Mexico market, she participated in a trade mission organized by OWIT-Toronto in 2019 to the city of Monterrey in northeast Mexico. During this trade mission, top Canadian businesswomen were introduced to Mexican leads to leverage exporting opportunities, and this resulted in solid connections for ISR.

    Lyse has also been fearless in taking her company to the next level, participating and presenting her company pitch to CBC’s auditions for TV’s Dragons’ Den in 2019 to expand business and increase the export base.

    The COVID-19 pandemic has caused massive negative industry impacts in real time, disrupting supply chains and halting exports. However, the effects of the pandemic have also resulted in an unprecedented surge in demand for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). This has led to companies like ISR that have pivoted to making masks and a variety of other medical supplies to expand their domestic production. The longer-term effects on the industry could be an increased emphasis on domestic production capacity to support national health concerns.

    The safety and protective manufacturing industry in Ontario and worldwide thrives on the occupational health and safety regulations put in place to ensure that workplaces are safe and healthy. An increasing number of regulations have been introduced to protect workers from hazardous conditions that might cause injury. Increased changes in workforce operations and industrial growth will continue to sustain demand for industry products and mitigate industry volatility.

    Lyse continues to aim higher to increase ISR’s market reach internationally to meet an increased worldwide demand from construction and industrial growth that will continue to drive forward the demand for safety and protective equipment into the next decade. Memberships in associations like OWIT-Toronto will be beneficial to stay the course, providing topical international trade information and trade missions to help expand market access for women.

    “Seizing global opportunities is one of our priorities, and our membership with OWIT-Toronto is therefore key in this regard,” Lyse notes. “My experience at OWIT-Toronto’s trade mission in Monterrey was an eye-opener and I am keen to look at various strategies to leverage and tap into the different connections and networks from the mission.”

    [left] Lyse at the Dragons' Den auditions. [right] Lyse participates in the OWIT-Toronto trade mission in Monterrey, Mexico with top Canadian women executives.

  • Sunday, August 02, 2020 10:45 AM | Anonymous

    Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade, concluded a successful Canada-led Ottawa Group meeting in June 2020 on strengthening rules-based trade and keeping supply chains open amid COVID-19 and beyond.

    Canada, along with the other 12 Ottawa Group members, endorsed concrete steps contained in the Joint Statement of the Ottawa Group: Focusing Action on COVID-19. This statement establishes key actions for member countries to support an inclusive, sustainable, and resilient global recovery for Canadians.

    Reiterating the importance of the multilateral, rules-based trading system underpinned by the World Trade Organization (WTO), Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also participated in the virtual meeting of the Ottawa Group on WTO reform in the context of COVID-19.

    Canada and the Ottawa Group have continued to provide leadership, critical thinking and analysis, as well as concrete ideas and proposals, on actions that could be undertaken on the global stage to lessen the economic impacts of COVID-19 on people around the world, and ensure more resilience when dealing with future crises.

    Key actions from the joint statement include greater transparency on export restrictions, predictable and open trade in agriculture, and advancing negotiations on e-commerce. The measures ensure the stability of trade for businesses, workers and people during the pandemic by supporting the movement of goods and services people rely on. It also lays the groundwork for a potential new WTO initiative making it possible for medical supplies to flow more easily.

    Canada and the Ottawa Group remain committed to the broader WTO reform agenda, including efforts toward a long-lasting solution for dispute settlement and conclusion of negotiations on harmful fisheries subsidies.

  • 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

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