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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.

  • Friday, September 27, 2019 9:44 AM | Anonymous

    CanExport, the Canadian government’s program that helps small and medium sized companies do business abroad, has announced changes to its eligibility criteria. As of August 22, 2019, the CanExport for SMEs project funding limit increased up to $75,000 to cover up to 75% of eligible expenses related to international market development. The CanExport SMEs program requires applicants to submit a project for which expenses total between $20,000 and $100,000. The program now reimburses up to 75% of eligible costs to offer between $15,000 and $75,000 in funding per project. Companies participating in trade missions organized by Global Affairs Canada for groups under-represented in international trade (e.g. women, LGBTQ2 and Indigenous exporters) may exceptionally submit a project of less than $20,000 for consideration.

    The CanExport program will provide your company with financial support and will allow you to gain access to personalized advice from experienced trade commissioners that will help you identity potential markets, partnerships, and opportunities to achieve your international business needs.

    If you want your business to grow globally, you may choose up to five export markets to target where your company has no or minimal business. In order to be eligible, your company must be for-profit, be an incorporated legal entity or LLP, have a CRA business number (unless Indigenous-owned or led), employ no more than 500 full-time equivalent employees, and declare between $100K and $100M in annual revenue in Canada during the last 12 months.

    Activities eligible for CanExport SMEs funding include business travel, market research, participation at trade events and fairs, adaptation and translation of marketing tools, intellectual property protection, and adaptation of contracts, as well as expert advice on business, legal or tax matters. Most applications are approved in less than 25 days.

    On top of supporting Canadian SMEs, CanExport also provides funding to innovators who want to develop R&D collaborations to commercialize new technologies through partnerships in foreign markets, to associations that would like to pursue international business development activities, and to Canadian communities that wish to attract, retain and expand foreign direct investment.

    For more information visit here.

  • Friday, September 27, 2019 9:33 AM | Anonymous

    “Wonderful turnout, great range of participants, and a selection of excellent speakers, I loved that panel!” This is how OWIT-Toronto member Aylin Luisi of UPS summed up our 20th anniversary celebration and Awards ceremony held at the Toronto Board of Trade on September 17. An inspiring panel of our chapter’s founders, including Candice Rice, Molly Zito, Susan Baka and Gail Morris, shared their international trade journeys and insights on global trade issues in a fireside chat moderated by Cindie-Eve Bourassa of Global Affairs Canada. Some of the take-aways:

    • OWIT was launched in Canada after the first Business Women’s Trade Mission to Washington.
    • Joining OWIT helped all the panelists develop a strong network of contacts, which often led to new roles or new business.
    • Many other valuable resources exist in Canada to help women export, including the Business Women in Trade program and Trade Commissioner Service of Global Affairs Canada, EDC, BDC and the Magnet Export Portal.
    • The role of women in trade has evolved dramatically in the last 20 years, with the topic of trade and women’s economic empowerment now on the agendas of international organizations like the UN, APEC, OECD and World Trade Organization.
    • Growing protectionism is a big challenge on the international trade front.
    • Getting involved with OWIT and networking are great ways for young women to meet role models and advance their careers or businesses.

    The panel was followed by an equally inspiring Awards presentation to outstanding women who have made a mark in trade. The 2019 winners are:

    • Isabella Bertani, JoAnna Townsend Award for Leadership in International Trade, recognized for her global speaking on trade topics and for mentoring young women

    • Myra Sable, Sable & Rosenfeld, Woman Exporter of the Year Award, honoured for putting Canada on the map entering new markets and conquering taste categories with win-after-win in international specialty food competitions for almost 50 years.

    • Hamideh Mahmoudi, Centennial College, Student of International Trade Award, recognized for her excellent knowledge of international trade and for creative problem solving.

    Kudos to all the nominees for their outstanding achievements:

    • Townsend Award finalists: Professor Maureen Irish, University of Windsor; Nicole Lunstead, Trade Commissioner, Global Affairs Canada; Karin Muller, Director, Trade Compliance for North America, Magna International; Christine Nakamura, VP, Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada, Toronto Office
    • Woman Exporter Award finalists: Rhonda Barnet, President & COO, AVIT Manufacturing; Natalia Mykhaylova, Founder & CEO, WeavAir; Niru Somayajula, President & CEO, Sensor Technology Ltd.; Shelby Taylor, Founder & CEO, Chickapea
    • Student Award finalist: Ledia Dervishay, Centennial College

    A big thanks to our sponsors: the Diversity Institute/Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub, EDC, and Jewels4Ever and to supporter Global Affairs Canada.

  • Tuesday, August 27, 2019 11:01 AM | Anonymous

    The G7 summit was taking place in Biarritz, France this year. The G7 Research Group from the University of Toronto has prepared a briefing book that covers most of the main issues that is discussed at the summit.

    The book has contributions from France's President Emmanuel Macron, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Prime Ministers of Italy, Australia, among others.

    Maria Marchyshyn also contributed to the book with her insights on page 70-71. She evaluated recent trade agenda and analyzed G7 trade discussions.

    You may reach the publication for the full article and more here.

  • Monday, August 19, 2019 9:57 AM | Anonymous

    OWIT-Toronto, represented by Alma Farias, Past- President and Board Member, joined some of the most important business organization and industry association leaders in Ottawa this year to participate in Export Development Canada’s (EDC’s) 14th Industry Stakeholder Panel focused on trade diversification and corporate social responsibility. This annual panel is organized by EDC to discuss trade related matters. OWIT-Toronto was one of the two new participants this year.

    At the evening reception, EDC President and CEO Mairead Lavery welcomed guests, including Canada’s Minister of Small Business and Export Promotion, the Honourable Mary Ng. The Minister noted that a small percentage of Canadian SMEs export, with the majority of those exports going to the US. She acknowledged that these companies need better access to capital, additional market research and information on navigating intellectual property concerns. The $1.1 billion Export Diversification Strategy and federal support for the Trade Accelerator Program are examples of how the government is responding to these concerns.

    Ms. Lavery opened the panel discussion session at EDC’s head office by welcoming participants and sharing reflections on her first 100 days in the role of President and CEO.

    Panelists also heard from two distinguished speakers: Ailish Campbell, Chief Trade Commissioner and Assistant Deputy Minister, Global Affairs Canada, and Peter Hall, Vice-President and Chief Economist, EDC, who provided high-level macroeconomic and policy context for the day’s discussions. Participants then broke into groups to discuss the two themes for the day: trade diversification and responsible and sustainable business.

    OWIT-Toronto actively participated in the trade diversification discussion group. Among the challenges noted by participants:

    • The low level of awareness among their members of the resources available to help them to diversify their exports and operate responsibly
    • The need to help SMEs embrace digitization.

    As an opportunity, participants noted how value chains provide an important platform for diversification. A list of recommendations to be considered by EDC was submitted by participants at the end of the discussion. You may see the 14th EDC Industry Stakeholder Panel Executive Summary here

    OWIT- Toronto appreciated the opportunity to have visibility and a voice before EDC and important business and industry representatives that influence decision makers in the public and private sectors. This was an ideal forum to highlight the relevance of women entrepreneurs and the role women play in international trade and our commitment to educate women on the benefits of growth in trade diversification for exporters and Canada. We look forward to continuing participation in the coming years.

    OWIT-Toronto recognizes EDC’s efforts and commitment to listen and learn from business organizations and industry associations in order to support and serve more Canadian exporters. Congratulations to EDC for the excellent organization of these valuable panels and gatherings.

  • Thursday, August 08, 2019 10:49 AM | Anonymous

    OWIT-Toronto’s trade mission to Monterrey in February was so successful that the participating Canadian businesswomen returned with leads, and some even with requests for quotes. An important outcome of the trip was the impact made by the group, which helped showcase the contribution of women in international trade, particularly in male-dominated sectors. This was highlighted by some media outlets in Mexico.

    Myrna Bittner, CEO and Founder of RUNWITHIT Synthetics (RWI), is one of the 11 businesswomen who participated in this mission. When she decided to pursue opportunities in Monterrey as part of the delegation, she was hoping to make business connections in Mexico, but at the time she did not know those relationships would grow and strengthen as fast as they have.

    Myrna founded RWI Synthetics, a company leading the development of Synthetic Intelligence, five years ago. Synthetics are Artificial Intelligence driven agents that learn, observe, plan and respond creatively and that can be coordinated at an exponential scale to bring other technologies and systems to life realistically. They can be applied by the health, banking, manufacturing and utilities industries to remove critical risk. They can also bring entire cities to life, including citizens and smart infrastructure, to connect, innovate, and experience even the most unpredictable disaster response and recovery scenarios.

    Not even half a year ago, Myrna met with Axtel for the first time as part of the business matching program coordinated by OWIT-Toronto. Axtel is a Mexican telecommunications company, part the ALFA group that manages a portfolio of diversified subsidiaries and operates 133 plants in 28 countries.

    After her meetings in Monterrey, Myrna left Mexico convinced that she would be returning soon. “This was one of the best organized trade missions I have ever experienced because it was all about entrepreneurs,” she says. “The mission’s spirit was to make things happen, and to connect people. I gained amazing contacts that would have taken me a long time to find and I had incredible meetings.”

    Five months later, she has returned to Monterrey, and things have progressed so positively that RWI Synthetics has been chosen to participate in ALFA’s 2019 business accelerator, called NAVE, run by Alestra, ALFA’s IT company. RWI Synthetics is one of the eight companies selected from 3,700 companies considered from around the world. Being part of this accelerator program has given Myrna access to funding, business development, and infrastructure support, as well as curated introductions to some of the more than 18,000 Alestra clients.

    In this brief period of time, Myrna has already presented to Axtel and Alestra’s executive group, the Vice Presidents, and at a client event. RWI Synthetics has recently added synthetic cities to its portfolio of capabilities, delivering the keynote at IoT World Expo in California with Itron, and simulating an earthquake in Synthetic Santa Clara. They demonstrated different ways of using Smart City data to provide 42,000 citizens with location specific relevant emergency information using utility data streams.

    In addition to her prospects, Myrna has kept in touch with other contacts she met while in Monterrey, to ensure she has a network she can reach out to, like the Trade Commissioner Service at the Canadian Consulate General in Monterrey, when she visits. Moreover, the trade mission also allowed her to build another network with fellow Canadian businesswomen. In her most recent visit, Myrna was pleasantly surprised to learn that another delegate from OWIT-Toronto’s trade mission to Monterrey, Barb Wilmer, Director of Sales at Racer Machinery International, was also in town following up on opportunities with contacts in Mexico. They were able to get together and share their experiences, which is another valuable outcome of the trip.

    “Thank you to OWIT for showing me what Monterrey is all about and how to navigate the landscape, and for curating such amazing meeting,” says Myrna. The best part is that she is not the only one making great strides as a result of this trade mission. OWIT-Toronto is proud to have contributed to these successes and committed to continuing to encourage trade diversification among Canadian businesswomen.

  • Monday, July 22, 2019 10:33 AM | Anonymous

    Just recently (May 27 and 28), I had the great pleasure of sitting down with a group of national business and industry associations for one of my most important meetings of the year—our annual Industry Stakeholder Panel.

    Add to that our special guests, the Minister of Small Business and Export Promotion—the Honourable Mary Ng, and Canada’s Chief Trade Commissioner, Ailish Campbell, and you can imagine that we had a really great conversation. Everyone around the table shared a true passion for Canadian trade and investment.

    EDC has been holding stakeholder panels for 14 years, but this was my inaugural event as President and CEO, so I asked that participants focus on two key topics for the day—trade diversification, and corporate sustainability and responsibility (CSR).

    The first, trade diversification, reflects the federal government’s priority to grow Canadian trade. It’s also, of course, been a longstanding objective of our own.

    The second topic, sustainable and responsible business, is equally important. As I reminded the panel in my opening remarks: “CSR is not a nice-to-have for EDC. Nor is it something that happens alongside of our business. It is our business.”

    On both of these topics, our stakeholders provided tremendous insight into what was top-of-mind for their associations, what they are doing to promote trade diversification, address corporate sustainability and responsibility, and, of course, they had lots to say about how EDC can help their membership.

    Here is just a snapshot of what was shared around the table:

    There is a strong desire for a better flow of information between EDC, the government and the associations’ membership. In spite of gatherings like this one, there’s not enough dialogue. We can do better—and we will.

    Industry associations know about EDC’s tremendous ground-level support, but not enough Canadian companies do. They want to help their member companies understand the role of EDC (and the Trade Commissioners and all other government programs and services available to Canadian exporters).

    There was great advice about making CSR more real by using everyday language to make it more meaningful for businesses. A fabulous idea.

    Industry stakeholders are looking for more help in the realm of digital technology and in particular, how can we improve Canadian skills and adapt to new technologies to ensure that companies find more innovative ways to grow.

    Finally, there was a lot of talk about “bragging and branding.” There’s a real desire for us to be bolder in foreign markets. Our stakeholders want EDC and the Government of Canada to provide more support in promoting what Canadian companies (big and small) have to offer abroad. I promise you, I heard this one loud and clear.

    As you can see, there’s no shortage of ideas and great thinking among EDC’s incredible business and industry stakeholders.

    Now it’s our turn. We’ll be taking this dialogue to the next level, not just continuing the conversation (as important as that is) but moving on these ideas. Stronger, clearer messaging on CSR? We can do that. More thinking on digital technology? Of course. Raising awareness of EDC among Canadian companies? You bet!

    Waving the Canadian flag more than ever around the world? Just watch us!

    I’ve only been on the job four months, but I can tell you that I am only getting more excited about how EDC can be a real force, delivering for our industry stakeholders, of course, but mostly for the thousands of Canadian companies we can help to go, grow and succeed internationally.

    When I took on my role, I committed to champion Canadian exporters—big and small—and raise our collective visibility. These conversations highlight how important that is. Let’s get started!

    Mairead Lavery

    President and Chief Executive Officer

    Export Development Canada

  • Thursday, July 04, 2019 7:50 PM | Anonymous

    FITT and OWIT International Support the Advancement of Women in International Trade The Forum for International Trade Training (FITT) is collaborating with The Organization of Women in International Trade (OWIT) International, to support the advancement of women and the professional growth of OWIT members with expert trade training, resources and certification.

    FITT’s online courses and workshops enable you to pursue your self-directed training whenever and wherever it’s convenient for you. Target the topics that matter most to you or your business or complete all of the courses and earn your CITP®|FIBP® designation.

    As an OWIT member, you can access this professional global trade training with these exclusive member-only discounts:

    Get $50 off any online courses

    Get $25 off any online workshops

    Please contact Cortney at VP-Partnership@owit.org to obtain these member-only discounts for FITT!

    The Forum for International Trade Training, FITT The Forum for International Trade Training (FITT) is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing international business training, resources and professional certification to individuals and businesses.

    Whether you’re looking to grow your business, invest in personal development for your employees, or meet your own personal career goals, the right training and certification can help you enhance your knowledge and credibility, stand out from the competition and take advantage of opportunities.

    Endorsed by and in collaboration with Export Development Canada (EDC), FITT provides training courses that give you the world’s most up-to-date, industry-validated global trade information available. The courses are created with the help of many experts working in the global trade industry, to ensure all material is tailored to help you develop the practical skills you need to succeed in meeting the everyday demands of international business.

    Special offer exclusively for OWIT members

    FITT is offering OWIT members a special opportunity to get early access to their new FITTskills Lite online course previews before they launch!

    What are FITTskills online course previews?

    If you’ve been thinking about taking a FITTskills course or workshop but wonder if it will meet your needs, FITT's new FITTskills Lite e-book downloads can help you try before you buy.

    Early access

    Early access to FITT's new course previews allows you to:

    Take advantage of industry-backed resources created directly from the FITTskills program

    Try before you buy

    Learn without deadlines or exams

    Focus on the topics that matter to you

    Read through an entire unit in an hour or less and move on to the next

    Special offer

    BONUS: For a limited time only, downloading a unit also gives you access to 25% OFF of the purchase of a related course or workshop.

    Your next steps:

    1. Go to the FITTskills Lite page, and select the unit(s) you'd like to download.
    2. Complete and submit the download form. If you are an existing customer, log in first to have parts of the form auto-fill for you.
    3. Check your email to get your unit e-book and your discount code.

    Don’t delay. Download your units to get your 25% discount!

    Questions? Contact us at info@fitt.ca or chat with us live at FITTforTrade.com.

  • Thursday, July 04, 2019 7:47 PM | Anonymous

    Interested in meeting women in international trade from OWIT chapters from around the world? With the theme Year of the Woman, the 19th Annual OWIT International Conference to be hosted by OWIT Tampa Bay from October 23-25 offers an interesting and exciting combination of events in Orlando and Tampa, Florida.

    The full schedule includes:

    Wednesday, October 23

    Orlando Business Day (No Host Lunch/Dinner) 8:30 AM-4:30 PM (limited to first 50 registrants) Orlando entrepreneurial ecosystem tour including a private tour of Bridg and the National Entrepreneur Center. BRIDG is a versatile boutique microelectronics fabrication facility.

    Bus transportation will be provided from Orlando to Tampa after the tour.

    Thursday, October 24

    #OWITConTampaBay - Year of the Woman! 8:00 AM - 3:00 PM The Conference day features 16 dynamic speakers and 6 thought-provoking sessions!

    Port Tour 4:00 PM - 5:15 PM (limited to first 80 registrants)

    A relaxing, insightful journey by boat to see the physical world of imports and exports first-hand. There is nothing quite like being on the water and observing Florida’s largest port and the largest economic engine on this side of the state. The two-storey vessel has an air-conditioned downstairs and a covered top deck. This tour is an excellent opportunity to learn and to continue networking with your fellow conference attendees.

    Awards Dinner 6:30 PM - 9:00 PM

    Our favorite quote from last year’s dinner - “That was fun!” Chris Hamilton, Shutts & Bowen.

    We aim to have all of our guests repeat this quote for themselves at the 2019 Annual Awards Dinner. It will be a high-energy evening planned to inspire, motivate, and empower. Hear from one of Florida’s leading woman, Alex Sink, clap along as our International Person of the Year receives her award, and congratulate our two university scholarship winners. There is something for everyone at this Dinner. The best part – you will be there!

    Friday, October 25

    OWIT Board Meeting. All are welcome to attend! 9:00 AM -5:00 PM Meet your OWIT colleagues from chapters around the world to find out more about the organization and to share tips and best practices.

    No Host Dinner at Brio, 6:30 PM (RSVP to secretary@owit.org

    Early bird registration for the full program is US$234 (OWIT members), US$299 (non-members) and students (US$100) and is available until September 6.

    Check out the full program, registration options and hotel details are at https://www.owitcontampabay.com/.

    Space is limited for some parts of the program. Be sure to register today!

  • Monday, May 13, 2019 5:34 PM | Anonymous

    Export Development Canada (EDC) recently introduced a new $50-million Women in Trade Investments Program to provide equity capital specifically designed to help Canadian women entrepreneurs. EDC will work with women-owned and -led businesses that are strong candidates for significant export growth. The support will come in the form of equity capital through both direct investment and investment in Canadian venture capital funds that demonstrate a commitment to gender diversity on both sides of the entrepreneur/investor table.

    “The market clearly has a gap in terms of women accessing capital at the critical commercialization stage, and we want to do more to address this,” said Jennifer Cooke, EDC’s Corporate Lead for Women in Trade. “For example, we know women entrepreneurs are more likely to access capital when there are women investors on the other side of the table, so we’re seeking fund partners who are also committed to improving gender diversity within their own senior management.”

    For more information, visit EDC’s Women in Trade page.

  • Monday, May 13, 2019 5:29 PM | Anonymous

    OWIT-Toronto participated in a kick-off event in April for the partners and supporters of the Women Entrepreneur Knowledge Hub (WEKH), led by the Diversity Institute, a “think and do” tank, along with the Ted Rogers School of Management and Brookfield Institute at Ryerson University.  The goal of this community of practice which, to date, is coordinated through 9 regional hubs with over 75 partners and 100,000 women entrepreneurs is to provide a platform and portal to collect and share best practices to create an inclusive innovation ecosystem.  WEKH is part of the Government of Canada’s Women Entrepreneurship Strategy which aims to double the number of women entrepreneurs by 2025 and to support export growth and scaling up.

    “We want to challenge the classic definitions and stereotypes of entrepreneurship and drive real change, not just have lofty goals,” said Wendy Cukier, Director of WEKH, noting that entrepreneurship is typically measured through a male lens, with a tech focus, whereas most women are in the services sector and tend to have smaller businesses.   “Having 1,000 companies create one job each or one company creating 1,000 jobs are equal in contributing to GDP. ”  

    Specifically, WEKH will:

    • Measure and assess the progress of women entrepreneurship in Canada to determine what works and what doesn’t
    • Collect, analyze and disseminate information and advance research
    • Support and share best practices and knowledge.

    In breakout sessions, participants provided this feedback:

    • Appreciate the value of good stories in addition to data when measuring entrepreneurship
    • Ensure stories and research are inclusive and represent diversity, and do not just profile the super entrepreneur
    • Help support women’s organizations so they can support women in scaling up their businesses

    WEKH’s advanced technology platform to link women entrepreneurs and their organizations to resources and best practices will be powered by Magnet which currently links talent to help grow businesses and also is home to the Magnet Export Portal.

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