div.itemInfoContainer { display: none; }

Follow Us

Upcoming events

Log in

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, January 09, 2023 3:11 PM | Helen Hemmingsen (Administrator)

    As of January 4, 2023, WEConnect International is offering a 3-year certification, from 1 year, to bring added value to women business owners in Canada who wish to make connections with corporate buyers and/or take advantage of their globally recognized women owned logo For all the details see their global Announcement.

    In addition to the above, WEConnect International has lowered the certification price point for small businesses with annual revenue under $1M. Women business owners interested in learning more are welcome to attend one of the January WECommunity Chat sessions, offered every Tuesday at 12pm ET.

    Sign up here or start their 3-Year Certification Application HERE.

    Join WEConnect at International Day in 2023 in Nashville.

    For more information, email Stephanie Lafontaine, Regional Director for Canada and the US, at sfontaine@weconnectinternational.org 

  • Tuesday, December 20, 2022 2:05 PM | Anonymous

    OWIT-Toronto participated in a roundtable in December organized by the Vietnam Trade Office in Canada and the Canada-Vietnam Trade Council.  Guest speaker, the Hon. Jean Charest, Partner with McCarthy Tétrault and Honorary Chair of the Canada-ASEAN Business Council, highlighted the long-term relationship between Canada and Vietnam and  said the country offers many opportunities for Canadian  companies, particularly with the new Indo-Pacific Strategy.

  • Thursday, December 15, 2022 2:21 PM | Anonymous


    International welcomes Ghana as the newest chapter to join the international network.  In the pipeline are Tijuana, Eswatini and Tanzania….Happy Her Hour is a casual bi-monthly virtual event held during the noon hour that provides an opportunity for OWIT members to network with others from chapters around the world. Check www.owit.org for the next one.

  • Friday, December 02, 2022 2:00 PM | Helen Hemmingsen (Administrator)

    Dr. Olutoyin Oyelade, founder of Invcap Corporation and Casa Foundation, and Debra Steger, retired Emeritus Professor of International Trade at the University of Ottawa, tied to receive this year’s prestigious Excellence in Leadership in International Trade award presented at the Organization of Women in International Trade – Toronto Chapter (OWIT-Toronto) – Export Awards Luncheon, held at the Ontario Investment and Trade Centre on December 1, 2022. This award recognizes outstanding women who, through their business and personal networks, act as a trade advocate and mentor for women, fostering opportunities that actively support women entrepreneurs or professionals in achieving success in international business. 


    Dr. Oyelade provides financing support, mentorship, and partnerships to women-owned businesses through Invcap Corporation & Casa Foundation. Since 2015, Dr Oyelade’s Invcap has continued to support women with their capital-raising ventures and strategies. Over 200 businesses received pitch training during the pandemic. In 2018, she helped establish EntrepreneursPoint, an incubator for women, youth, and start-ups, that facilitates partnerships and new connections for growing women-owned businesses across Canada and internationally, with a focus on Africa. 


    Ms. Steger has mentored more young female international trade law students and lawyers at the University of Ottawa than can be counted. She is on the Gender and Trade Advisory Committee of Global Affairs Canada, and the Advisory Board of TradeExperettes, a network of women trade experts that seek to highlight the voices of women in international trade. She has supervised trade and gender projects including the drafting of the model trade and gender provisions for free trade agreements. Debra has also written numerous articles on gender and trade while being a tireless advocate for women’s voices in business and in law. 


    Yvonne Robertson, CEO of Matrix Power Services Ltd. and Sahara & Co, clinched the Woman Exporter of the Year Award. Her company, Matrix Power Services Ltd., distributes power products to business customers in the aerospace, telecom, utilities, and subsea industries. Under her strategic leadership, the company has expanded its export model to supply its products to North and Central America and other markets. 


    The winner of the Student of International Trade Award is Natalie Jiang of Centennial College who has successfully led several projects in international finance. The former Lufthansa employee has completed her Canadian International Freight Forwarders Association Certificate and is passionate about working in the FinTech industry. 


    Other highlights of the Awards’ afternoon included an engaging fireside chat with the Honourable Pierre Pettigrew, Chair of the Asia-Pacific Foundation of Canada and Executive Advisor, International at Deloitte Canada, and a congratulatory message from Charmaine A. Williams, Associate Minister of Women’s Social and Economic Opportunity, Ontario. Mr. Pettigrew reinforced the significance of the Indo-Pacific Strategy and the importance of enhancing trade with Asia. He strongly commended Canada’s reputation in international trade as excellent, highlighting how we punch above our weight in trade”. Ms. Williams congratulated the winners and nominees of this year’s awards and reiterated the importance of uplifting women in international business and women’s economic empowerment. 


    The successful, sold-out OWIT-Toronto Awards Luncheon 2022 was sponsored by Borden Ladner GervaisBennett JonesUPSWomen’s Entrepreneurship Knowledge HubBMOCity of TorontoKPMGJewels 4 EverTrade Facilitation Office (TFO) Canada, and Orchard Custom Beauty.


    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).


  • Monday, November 28, 2022 5:00 PM | Anonymous

    Canada’s Indo-Pacific Strategy identifies 5 interconnected strategic objectives including expanding trade, investment, and supply-chain resilience.To foster open, rules-based trade and support Canada’s economic prosperity with the Indo-Pacific region, Canada will invest $244.6 million. 

  • Wednesday, November 16, 2022 11:02 PM | Arsheen Kaur (Administrator)

    OWIT-Toronto (Organization of Women in International Trade) is pleased to announce and introduce its two new Co-Presidents for the 2022-23 year: Justine Namara and Audrey Ross.

    Justine is currently a Special Advisor, Economic Cooperation, in the Pan-Africa Affairs Bureau at Global Affairs Canada. An international trade and development expert, with over 15 years' experience working on impact from the grassroots through to global policy change, Justine is a passionate advocate for inclusive trade. Previously, Justine was a Director at the Africa Trade Desk, and formerly Associate Director of Programs and Strategic Initiatives at Skills for Change. She has also managed partnerships, outreach and advocacy in Switzerland at the World Trade Organization’s trade program for least developed countries, and was the lead on gender and trade. In Uganda, she has worked as a legal trade and development specialist.

    Justine is a Board Advisor at the City of Toronto’s Confronting Anti-Black Racism Advisory Committee and also serves as OWIT-Toronto’s VP of Strategic Partnerships. She holds an LL.M. in International Trade and Investment Law (University of Western Cape, South Africa), a Post-Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice (BAR COURSE) and a Bachelor of Laws Degree (Hons).

    Currently the Import & Export Compliance Manager at Orchard Custom Beauty, Audrey Ross is an in-house expert tasked with managing the cross-border activities and compliance of a global supply chain in over 16 countries.   A self-described #TradeGeek, she is experienced in multi-modal shipping, supply chain operations, customs compliance, free trade agreements and international tax. She is recognized as a Certified International Trade Professional (CITP® | FIBP®) by the Forum for International Trade Training (FITT) and is a frequent panelist/interviewee on webinars, podcasts and conferences. She is a regular guest on “Thoughts & Coffee” with Let’s Talk Supply Chain where she discusses hot topics in the global supply chain. Audrey is a founding member of the Blended Pledge (a grant initiative to foster next gen/diverse voices at industry events), a member of the TradeExperettes and will also continue in her role as VP-Secretary on the International Board for OWIT.

    “We are pleased to welcome Justine and Audrey into their shared role,” says outgoing President Helen Hemmingsen. “With their impressive backgrounds and solid experience in trade, they are well positioned to build on the strengths of OWIT-Toronto. Justine’s sharp strategic sense has already played a valuable role on our Board, and we are also excited about how Audrey’s involvement in OWIT International will broaden our chapter’s connection with the mother organization and increase the value of membership.”

    About OWIT-Toronto

    OWIT-Toronto (The Organization of Women in International Trade-Toronto; www.owit-toronto.ca) is part of an international, non-profit professional organization with chapters around the world (www.owit.org), dedicated to advancing global trade opportunities for women.

  • Friday, November 11, 2022 2:14 PM | Anonymous

    Africa Trade Conference 2022, held virtually last November, facilitated dialogue, networking, and information exchange about trade in Africa and trade with Africa.  It examined the opportunities and challenges of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area, an agreement encompassing most of Africa to enable  economic development. Joining a host of global presenters was OWIT-Toronto’s VP International, Susan Baka, who was part of a panel discussing how to unlock the potential for women to trade sustainably.

  • Monday, October 31, 2022 6:31 PM | Anonymous

    OWIT-Toronto is proud to recognize the achievements of women who, through their careers and personal commitments, foster international trade and the advancement of women. 

    We are now accepting nominations for the 2022 Export Awards for:

    - Excellence Award for Leadership in International Trade

    - Women Exporter of the Year

    - Student of International Trade

    Nominate your favourite leader, exporter and student here ! The deadline for nominations is Saturday,  November 19, 2022.  

    We are excited to be hosting our Export Awards in person on Thursday, December 1, 2022, at the Ontario Investment and Trade Centre (OITC), 250 Yonge Street, Eaton Centre, Toronto, from 11:30 am to 2:00 pm.

    Watch our Events Calendar further details !

    Please contact Helen Hemmingsen if you have any questions or need further information.

  • Tuesday, October 25, 2022 12:53 AM | Arsheen Kaur (Administrator)

    (This article was originally published in FITT's Trade Ready Blog available here.)

    By now, we are all probably well aware of the economic turmoil caused by the COVID 19 pandemic and the knock-on effects it has had, and continues to have, on global value chains.

    The importance of building a resilient supply chain has become a top issue for businesses with international reach.

    Businesses of all sizes have been affected all around the world, from Ikea’s empty warehouses to bare grocery store shelves. This has exposed vulnerabilities in global supply chains and value chains.

    We’ve seen the increasing international fragmentation of production processes and also the changes that they’ve had on the structure of global trade overall.

    Simultaneously, the trade pressures for companies engaged in international trade to build supply chains with full traceability and accountability for social and environmental impact continues to build.

    Companies are currently challenged to make their global supply chains more resilient without weakening their competitiveness in the marketplace.

    We teamed up with our partners at OWIT-Toronto to host a webinar to discuss how this can be achieved. In this recap article we’ll go through some practical steps that small businesses can take to respond and act upon today’s supply challenges.

    And we’ll also talk through how to set up strong supplier relationships and mitigation plans that will help to prevent disruption and delays.


    Rashpal Uppal-Assi, CITP – Manager, Procurement Services Division, Town of Stouffville

    Rashpal is a seasoned professional with expertise in supply chain management, international business learning design, and academia spanning over 15 years in serving public, private and non-profit organizations. She also founded her own strategic management consulting firm, working primarily with small and medium sized businesses and serves on the boards of three trade organizations.


    Amesika Baeta, CITP – District Manager, GTA West, Export Development Canada (EDC)

    Amesika manages a team of eight locally engaged account managers who work directly with Canadian exporters to offer knowledge, financing and risk mitigation strategies. She has 14+ years of experience in international trade and a proud CITP.

    Maryam Fouladirad – Founder & CEO, fundii

    Maryam has a wealth of international trade and development experience in the Middle East, Europe and North America. She received her MBA in London. She has experience in management consulting in FinTech, and the food and beverage manufacturing industries as well as direct trade in the U.S. with focus on entrepreneurship.

    Lora Rigutto, CITP – Loyalty and Engagement Manager, Forum for International Trade Training (FITT)Lora started her international trade career working for a foreign office trade commission based in Toronto. She brings experience from the procurement side for Canadian companies that are looking to procure from overseas. She is also a proud Certified International Trade Professional (CITP).

    Let’s start by talking about today’s international supply chain environment – what are some of the challenges to be aware of?

    Maryam: One of the main issues we’ve noticed over the past couple of years is logistics disruption. The labor shortages, the lack of proper raw materials for the manufacturers, and delays as a result.

    So that’s a chain that impacted from A to Z, the supply chain workflow around the world that impacted everyone from the manufacturers, to the freight forwarding companies, to both public and private sectors and at the end, the final consumers.

    Amesika: The key challenges that companies have faced have been the cost of inputs. This increase has been devastating in terms of understanding how they can price the costs. The increase in cost of inputs onto their customers while not hitting company’s margins has been a real challenge for companies.

    The cost of shipping and freight has gone up by, for some of our clients, three times, four times, where what used to be $5,000 to send the shipment is now $25,000, sometimes $50,000.

    Inventory management has been very challenging for companies to manage throughout this time, keeping up with the increased demand at the beginning in 2020 and 2021.

    And now in 2022 we’re entering a different stage of the pandemic, consumer spending has gone back down. As a result, companies are managing an overstock of inventory and have to figure out how to get rid of all this product while not taking a hit.

    And we’re also seeing the cost of financing rise due to the interest rate hikes, which will also have a huge impact on companies as we enter into 2023.

    For businesses that are setting up new resilient supply chains, or modifying their existing supply chains, where should they start building in that resiliency?

    Maryam: I often recommend three suppliers in every single market you are active in. And then you can prioritize them. Who is number one for you, number two and number three in terms of different products and the quality enterprises they have. These are the important points in selecting your suppliers and in negotiation.

    Amesika: It starts with creating an export plan and then having a backup plan, and then sometimes even having a backup plan to your backup plan.

    Through the process of creating an export plan you’ll assess your company’s financial position, human capital, the production capacities. Having a plan in place will be a great foundational work to help them determine what your needs are.

    And before all else, I encourage you to really understand your cash flow, understand your costs and how you’re going to finance this. Your suppliers may ask you for payment terms. You have to get the cash flow to pay them up front. And then, depending on the payment terms you have with your clients, your clients may pay you in 30 days, 60 days, sometimes 90 days.

    Before you engage in these relationships, it’s really important for you to know how much you can afford to pay your suppliers, and how long you can wait to be paid from your clients. And that is a key component to the successful implementation of a supply chain system for yourself.

    Maryam: Get all the information you can from Export Development Canada and the Trade Commissioners Service and their reports, but I highly recommend that all the business owners, as either an entrepreneur or SME, do your own research as well because it will really give you a better understanding regarding the market you’re expanding to. This is my recommendation, having a really good understanding regarding the market, and what has changed during the past two to three years due to COVID 19.

    How should small businesses in particular approach finding new international suppliers to create a more resilient supply chain?

    Lora: Let’s say you want to procure from a market and find foreign suppliers. Sounds so easy, right? But the truth is that you need a roadmap to do that. You need to become strategic about sourcing and procurement.

    And learning to navigate through some of those complexities is what FITT can really help you with. FITT’s Global Value Chain course gives you a comprehensive look at supply chain management.  There are different units within that course that teach you what to look for when you’re searching for foreign suppliers. How do you do a cost-benefit analysis? How do you really determine what you can afford to pay for those goods and inputs

    Or if you don’t have time to learn a new skill set yourself, set your team up with the needed training to have the skills within your business to be able to do a proper cost benefit analysis.

    If you go in blindly, often areas are overlooked. And let’s say you start to procure from a foreign supplier, but you don’t do your due diligence because you don’t know what to look for. Those mistakes can be really, really costly.

    Amesika: As a small business, you can’t be everything, right? Doing the analysis of where your gaps are as a business will empower you to know where you can go to get help. And don’t forget that you can also lean into your community. 

    Often suppliers are found through referrals, by speaking with people, going to trade shows, asking where people find products.

    If you find a supplier from a Google search, you don’t know much about them, there might not be much on their website. But you can ask them to produce references for companies that they’ve worked with.

    If you don’t have the budget to fly there to see their actual production, that’s one way that you can get around that. But honestly, if you want to save yourself a lot of headaches down the road, fly there to meet the companies that you want to do business with.

    I know for a lot of small businesses don’t have the resources to do that, but there is a program called CanExport that’s run through the Trade Commissioner Service. It’s a government grant program that helps subsidize the costs of small businesses that are looking at entering into certain markets around the world. I highly recommend you look into that program to help you subsidize some of those costs.

    Maryam: One of the best sources that Canadian companies can use to find suppliers is to contact the commercial section of the embassy of that foreign country in based in Canada.

    That’s their job exactly, much like trade commissioners, helping Canadian companies to find their suppliers. They can also help you in translation if there is some sort of a language barrier or cultural issue. 

    Let’s talk about negotiating with suppliers – what are some pointers you can give for negotiating payment terms and contract details with suppliers?

    Maryam: It’s an art, we need to develop it.

    There are a lot of resources out there that you’ll want to tap into regarding the cultural ethics, the how to negotiate with different countries, what is important for them. Building trust is crucial, and another reason why flying to meet them in person can be so important.

    But face time, even in online meetings is a good way to build trust with them. Do the work in vetting the supplier – ask for samples, test them, check their payment terms.

    Negotiation skills also get better with practice. It’s a skill that people can learn. There are a lot of resources available, from Youtube to major universities, that teach negotiation skills. I would suggest people just watch those videos, give it time, practice it, see the result.

    Amesika: You have to remember at the end of the day, you have to look out for your own company. I would always say this to my clients when I was an account manager; if somebody is looking to put food on the table, whose table are they going to put food on? They’re going to worry about themselves. 

    Get the expertise. If you don’t have the expertise in a certain area, educate yourself to empower yourself to make the right decisions. Get good legal advice too. Make sure your contracts are well structured from the beginning and very clear in terms of who’s responsible for what.

    Lora: You need to have confidence to go into negotiations, whether you’re negotiating with a potential buyer for your product or negotiating with a supplier.

    Partner with your logistics provider or your freight forwarder, they have the expertise. Before you agree to a price that has an Incoterm, understand what that Incoterm really means to you and your obligations as a buyer.

    It all comes back to being prepared. In a negotiation, if they’re quoting a certain term or a certain price with an Incoterm, you could be in a position to say, it’s the first time I’m dealing with you as a supplier, I’m not comfortable with buying “FOB”.

    If you don’t have the answers, partner with somebody that knows more than you do. And don’t agree to anything that you’re, you’re not comfortable with. Be willing to negotiate and have your reasons for not accepting that price with that Incoterm.

    How can a small business without the resources of a large corporation diversify and create a more resilient supply chain?How can they mitigate any risks and avoid disruption for their customers?

    Maryam: Make use of all the help and resources available to you from the TCS, EDC, Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and the embassies. Go to trade shows and build your network, build those relationships.

    Another really good source regarding Incoterms and finding the best route is freight forwarders and shipping companies. They know everything regarding Incoterms and they can be really helpful for entrepreneurs.

    Amesika: EDC provides risk mitigation strategies. If you’ve got a company that you’ve never done business with before that’s emailed you, you’re worried about giving them payment terms, whether it be net 15, net 30, net 60 day terms, even net 90 in some cases. 

    But the reality of getting paid up front is just not possible for a lot of companies. EDC does offer a variety of insurance solutions to cater to what your needs are, depending on how large you are, and depending on the size of your contract as well.

    We have an online insurance solution called select credit insurance, where you can go online, apply for a credit limit through our system, we will do a credit check on that company and then advise you as to whether we can insure that company or not.

    You can get a quote from us and then determine whether you want to pay for the insurance or not. And there’s no minimum size. This is ideal for companies who have the occasional order here or there, in a small amount. And it’s a way to educate yourself.

    Lora: I’ve been mentoring a company with an e-commerce model for the past nine months. And their biggest issue was shipping costs. My recommendation to them was to actually reach out to the small business solutions division of their courier. 

    Most couriers have a small business solutions department, and they understand the unique challenges of small businesses. They have the tools and resources and can provide guidance on how to avoid some of the risks of the particular products that are being shipped or the products that you’re trying to procure.

    Amesika: The more informed that you are, the more you are empowered to make the appropriate decisions for your company. 

    It goes right back to the importance of having a plan and then having a backup plan for that plan, and most likely be prepared to change that plan again in six months or even a year.

  • Sunday, October 23, 2022 4:22 PM | Arsheen Kaur (Administrator)

    The Trade Commissioner Service (TCS) is collaborating with Export Development Canada (EDC) and Coralus (formerly SheEO) to offer the Growing Global Activator Cohort, a 12‑month long program curated to help woman or non‑binary owned companies to grow globally.  

    You will notably:  

    • participate in cohort sessions including networking opportunities, expert panel discussions and workshops 
    • receive a 1:1 introduction to a regional Trade Commissioner for a session to support your specific international growth needs 
    • benefit from knowledge and resources focused on growing your business globally as a women or non‑binary owner

    The next cohort will start in January 2023.

    Applications will close on November 13th at 11:59pm EST.  

    Learn more and apply to join the Growing Global Activator Cohort today.

    You're ready to grow. We're ready to help.  

    The Canadian Trade Commissioner Service helps Canadian businesses grow by connecting them with its funding and support programs, international opportunities and its network of Trade Commissioners in more than 160 cities worldwide.  

organization of women in international trade-toronto

P.O. Box 715
31 Adelaide Street East
Toronto, Ontario M5C 2J8

General Inquiries:

© 2021 OWIT-Toronto. All rights reserved.   Litmus Design

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software