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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.

  • Wednesday, September 21, 2022 3:34 PM | Arsheen Kaur (Administrator)

    BMO Financial Group, in collaboration with Deloitte Canada, today announced the continuation of its BMO Celebrating Women Grant Program pledging $150,000 in grants to support the high-level growth plans of 12 women-owned businesses across Canada.

    Among banks in Canada, BMO has led the way by establishing a dedicated bank-wide program for women. With a decades-long commitment to removing barriers to women's empowerment, championing the advancement of women, and promoting an inclusive market, BMO has taken a close look at women's unique needs and created programs and initiatives that are important to them. BMO understands that the future depends on empowering more women. 

    Through the longest-standing, bank-led recognition program for women in North America – BMO Celebrating Women – and inspired by our Purpose, to Boldly Grow the Good in business and in life, including our commitment to double support for women-led businesses, BMO is inviting women business owners to share their high-level business growth plans and apply for one of 12 grants:

    • one grant of $20,000 CAD
    • four grants of $15,000 CAD
    • seven grants of $10,000 CAD

    In addition to these grants, BMO offers a comprehensive package to all recipients that includes an exclusive webinar series focused on business growth, the opportunity to join certain organizations and/or advisory boards, a profile on bmoforwomen.com, and a BMO Celebrating Women Grant Recipient social badge.

    Applications open September 26, 2022 and close October 17, 2022.

    "Through the BMO Celebrating Women Grant Program, we continue to drive our commitment to close the funding gap and provide meaningful capital to women business owners," said Christine Cooper, Head, Canadian Commercial Banking. "This year, we are recognizing women-owned businesses that are boldly growing their businesses and, in turn, strengthening the Canadian economy. We are proud to offer these grants and remove barriers for women-owned businesses and help those already leading positive change in their communities to grow the good."

    "Women-owned businesses are a driving force of the Canadian economy, and by providing these entrepreneurs and leaders with access to capital today, we're ensuring the prosperity of their businesses and our global competitiveness," said Linda Blair, Chief Experience Officer, Deloitte Canada. "We're pleased to be working with BMO on this initiative, not only to support women in business, but to inspire others, and we look forward to its positive impact for generations to come."

    To assist with the grant recipient selection process, BMO is collaborating with strategic partners to form this year's Advisory Panel of Judges.

    BMO has a long history of programs and partnerships to support and empower women:

    • Earmarked $5 billion in capital over five years to women entrepreneurs in 2022, building on the commitment of $2 billion in 2014 and $3 billion in 2018.

    • Committed $1.2 million in funding to Coralus (formerly SheEO), a not-for-profit company which offers financial support to businesses led by women-identifying and non-binary people. BMO's financial commitment allowed Coralus to fund all 2021 venture applicant companies working to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

    • Launched a $750 million Women in Business Bond solution with proceeds being allocated toward women-owned enterprises as defined in BMO's Sustainable Financing Framework, including micro, small and medium-sized businesses.

    • Set new diversity goals for senior leader and executive roles through its Zero Barriers to Inclusion 2025 strategy, including maintaining its leadership in gender diversity with at least 40 per cent of senior leader roles filled by employees who identify as women.

    To learn more about the Canadian Grant Program, visit bmoforwomen.com.

  • Monday, September 19, 2022 4:30 PM | Anonymous

    The OWIT-Toronto and FITT partnership will further support women in acquiring practical skills and know-how on the complexities of doing business in respective international markets.

    Equally to building proficiency and skills in international trade, it provides the opportunity to tap into OWIT-Toronto’s global networks, resources and export education to support businesses going global. OWIT-Toronto and OWIT members can register to access the 40% off FITT online courses and workshops or contact info@owit-toronto.ca for more information.

    Non-members can sign up to be part of a dynamic world-wide organization advancing women in international trade and take advantage of the robust training offers. 

  • Wednesday, September 14, 2022 5:00 PM | Anonymous

    We are looking for two Co-VP Communications to join our volunteer Board. 

    This is an exciting opportunity to develop board governance skills for non-profit organizations.  You can draw on a range of experience and talents.

    As Co-VP Communications, you will coordinate our quarterly newsletter, manage event postings on our website, update our website, and manage social media. You will have a team to support you. 

    A listing of current board members can be viewed at: www.owit-toronto.ca/board_members

    Please contact Helen Hemmingsen for further information.

  • Friday, September 09, 2022 2:00 PM | Arsheen Kaur (Administrator)
    OWIT-Toronto is partnering with the Forum for International Trade Training (FITT) to build and enhance women’s global business skills, expertise and knowledge. The partnership seeks to leverage existing resources, expertise and capabilities to empower women in global markets with key information, knowledge and up-to-date international issues on accessing global markets and advancing profitable competition.

    FITT is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing international business training, resources and professional certification to individuals and businesses. FITT’s international business training solutions have become the standard of excellence for global trade professionals across Canada and around the world. 

    Established in 1992 through a joint initiative of the Canadian government and private sector, FITT is now an authoritative standards body for international trade certification, accreditation and training. FITT’s Certified International Trade Professional - CITP® | FIBP® designation is the standard of excellence for global business practitioners worldwide. As part of the partnership with OWIT-Toronto, FITT is currently offering a 40% discount for OWIT members on all online courses and workshops

    “Cross-border business is complicated, even more-so following the onset of the pandemic and the related supply chain disruption and great resignation. For businesses making the leap into global markets, know-how is survival. Through this partnership, connecting women to the right training to properly address the risks, plan strategically, and avoid costly errors will empower them to become high-performers for their organizations and improve retention. And this is crucial for building export-capable businesses and people worldwide,” said Caroline Tompkins, CITP, President & CEO of FITT

    Helen Hemmingsen, Board Director and past President of OWIT-Toronto Chapter, warmly welcomed this collaboration. “OWIT-Toronto is very pleased to partner with FITT to upskill and advance women’s abilities in global trade. Recognizing that skills development is key to more inclusive international trade, this partnership advancing global business knowledge will support our members to more effectively integrate into global markets,” Helen said. “With the dynamism of global trade, upskilled women exporters and service providers will have the ability to reap more benefits from global trade”.

    The OWIT-Toronto and FITT partnership will further support women in acquiring practical skills and know-how on the complexities of doing business in respective international markets. Equally to building proficiency and skills in international trade, it provides the opportunity to tap into OWIT-Toronto’s global networks, resources and export education to support businesses going global. OWIT-Toronto and OWIT members can register to access the 40% off FITT online courses and workshops or contact info@owit-toronto.ca for more information. Non-members can sign up to be part of a dynamic world-wide organization advancing women in international trade and take advantage of the robust training offers. 

  • Thursday, August 25, 2022 11:28 AM | Anonymous

    A development communications and creative professional, Arsheen has experience in strategic communications and marketing, content strategy, social media management, and stakeholder relationships. Having worked with non-profits and think tanks over the last few years, she has been engaged in the conception and delivery of projects curated for diverse audiences and timelines, partnership building, and in driving engagement through various forms of traditional and digital communication tools.

    Arsheen is passionate about development communications and using the tool to advance conversations around gender equality and inclusion.

    She is currently working as Communications and Marketing Associate at the Ontario Bioscience Innovation Organization. Previously, she was engaged in different roles in outreach, project management, and stakeholder relationships, in Programs and Strategic Initiatives at Skills for Change.

    She is an independent writer and poet, and her work has been published in The Bombay Review, The Wire, Café Dissensus, Live Wire, and The Quint among others.

    She is a film studies and English literature (Hons) graduate from Jamia Millia Islamia, India.

  • Monday, August 22, 2022 4:00 PM | Anonymous

    Julie Bednarski is a dynamic and energetic entrepreneur with almost ten years of experience in the food and nutrition industry. She has always had a passion for food and wellness and believes that health and happiness all start in the kitchen. Julie’s education includes Bachelor of Applied Science in Applied Human Nutrition at the University of Guelph and a Master of Health Science in Nutrition Communication at Ryerson University. Julie went on to complete her dietetic internship to become a Registered Dietitian with the College of Dietitians in Ontario.

    In 2012, Julie followed her passion for culinary arts, as she attended the Chef’s Training Program culinary in New York City at the Natural Gourmet Institute. Following her culinary training, Julie went on to work at various restaurants throughout North America to refine and further develop her culinary skills.

    In July 2014, Julie started Healthy Crunch – as a way to satisfy her craving for super crunchy kale chips that were BIG in size and BIG in flavor. She started recipe development in her home kitchen and within 1 year, Julie had expanded to own her own commercial snack food manufacturing facility. Healthy Crunch’s mission is to innovate everyday foods making them better for you, while still being super delicious. With Julie’s ambition for success Healthy Crunch grew to have over 25,000 points of distribution within Canada within the first 2 years in business. Healthy Crunch now distributes their products throughout the world including Canada, USA, Europe, and the Middle East. Since the start of her business, Julie continues to expand Healthy Crunch’s product lines to include coconut chips, trail mix, granola bars, rice crispy squares, chia jam, seed butter, instant lattes, kale chips, dark chocolate superfoods, and chocolate chips. Julie is proud to be a woman entrepreneur and a certified Women-Owned Business.


  • Friday, July 29, 2022 6:25 PM | Anonymous

    New chapters to expand your global network…virtual happy hours to connect with members around the world…a celebration of OWIT small businesses….this and more from OWIT International. Here are some highlights:

    • Welcome aboard to OWIT Ecuador and OWIT South Africa, two new chapters joining the OWIT International family this spring.

    • Virtual happy hours called Happy-Her-Hour for members are starting, which will be a great way to connect with other members around the world. Check events in the OWIT site in August for details on when and how to participate in the next one.

    • Washington, DC was the host city for the Spring board meeting that attracted chapter representatives from around the world.  The fall board meeting will take place in Geneva immediately following the WTO Public Forum the end of September. 

    • In honour of MSME Day, OWIT International hosted a virtual event in July that highlighted five selected SMEs from around the world. This event was the culmination of a month-long campaign throughout June aimed at recognizing and celebrating OWIT SME members from our 27 chapters in Africa, the Americas, and Europe.  The women honoured and featured included: Canada’s Barbara Mowat, President of GroYourBiz in B.C., Noreen Cesaro, Principal of Market Accents and President of the OWIT-UK chapter, Elizabeth Nwanko of Oakland Best in Nigeria and Leslie August, President of Fremont Peak Capitalin California.  

    • When asked by moderator Kezy Mukiri of Africa what role they foresaw OWIT playing in the future, the consensus was that OWIT can become the lead agency for entrepreneurs and policy for small business.  As Noreen put it, “There is great value in our power as a voice of women traders globally to put forward recommendations to our governments and the World Trade Organization. (WTO).  We are a huge resource that is underutilized. We need to look at programs where we can have impact.”  “International leadership is important for legislation and policy,” agreed Leslie.  “We can also help women anywhere learn and grow.  There is a wide swath of women on a continuum – from women with little access to resources and those who have access.  We can need to facilitate that transfer of knowledge across borders and connect to uplift all of us.”  Another key take-away summed up the value of OWIT membership: "There are great opportunities for linkages among us; we can form strategic alliances and collaborate," said Barbara. "Network with other chapters", added Elizabeth. "Your network is your net worth."

  • Friday, July 29, 2022 4:30 PM | Anonymous

    Our partner the Belgian Canadian Business Chamber (BCBC) recently received the accreditation of The Federation of Belgian Chambers of Commerce - the umbrella organization of all accredited Chambers of Commerce in Belgium and Belgian Chambers abroad. Through the accreditation program, the Federation guarantees the quality of the services provided by the Chambers to their members, providing BCBC members with the highest level of assurance. The Federation aims to develop the Belgian Chambers of Commerce into a reference partner for companies doing sustainable and international business. BCBC also held their first Business Excellence Awards Gala in April 2022. A sold-out event that showcased Canadian and Belgian companies as well as individuals who have played a key role in driving bilateral trade and economic cooperation between Belgium and Canada. OWIT-Toronto members can access BCBC events at member rates, so keep on the lookout for upcoming events


  • Monday, June 27, 2022 4:56 PM | Anonymous

    Toronto was a partner in a virtual CETA Business Forum  for Canada and Europe that took place in June to create synergies and networking between Canadian and European companies.  Our chapter was represented in the  Women in International Trade  session by VP International Susan Baka who presented  Opportunities for Canadian Women Entrepreneurs under CETA to leverage this free trade agreement and do business with the EU.

  • Friday, June 24, 2022 11:00 AM | Anonymous

    OWIT-Toronto partnered with OWIT-Tampa Bay and OWIT-South Florida for the 2nd Annual Stories from the Trenches: Women who Lead in International Trade webinar in June, supported by the Canadian Consulate General in Miami and moderated by Susan Harper, the Consul General there.  The virtual event featured three dynamic women selected by each chapter who shared their different experiences in trade:

    Nadia Theodore, SVP, Global Government & Industry Relations, Maple Leaf Foods, Toronto * – Always fascinated with the idea of bringing trade to companies and marrying up policy with practice, Nadia joined MLF after spending 20 years in the trade policy branch of Global Affairs Canada.  She was one of two executive leaders who supported the chief negotiators for the CPTPP.

    • There are challenges [in being a woman in international trade] but also moments when you realize that sometimes success comes because we are women.

    • We need to talk about who benefits from trade and how they benefit  and find ways to bring trade to more people.

    • There are numerous paths to international trade. Really think broadly about what your strength looks like in terms of a career in trade.

    • What has served me well is the ability to read a room and calibrate the response accordingly. Sometime that means doubling down and other times it means biting your tongue. 

      *Since presenting on this webinar, Nadia was appointed as Canada’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the World Trade Organization in Geneva. Many congratulations from OWIT-Toronto!

    Jeneth D’Alonzo, CEO, DMSI, Tampa Bay – Both CEO and an engineer in a manufacturing company – a sector where there are few women -   Jeneth designs things  like fibreconnectivity products.  Despite having no education for it, she built a fibreoptic manufacturing  facility in the Philippines in 2009, the first of its kind.

    • Corruption was probably the biggest challenge in building a manufacturing plant in a developing country. 

    • When you enter international trade, come first knowing who you are and be confident; have faith in what you do and you’ll be awesome. 

    • Although the manufacturing industry is male dominated, I was accustomed  to it from school where I was only one of two woman in a class of 48. Once you are seen as an expert, you will get respect.    

    Jen Diaz, President, Diaz Trade Law, Miami  – After 10 years at a large firm, Jen decided to start her own firm, which specializes in  trade compliance. She loves international  trade  and finds every day different.

    • The enforcement space is growing and is a great career path, even though it is very male dominated – that’s why OWIT was a godsend for me.

    • We as business owners wear 18,000 hats.  Building and maintaining expertise in a specific niche has helped me tremendously. 

    • This is an interesting time to be in trade in the US since there is so much going on eg. forced labour issue.     

    • There is great power in an international network like OWIT. Part of being an amazing woman is having a network and tribe and being around successful women, who will make you better.

    If you missed the webinar, here is the link to the recoding: 


    Access Passcode: Qqh$dR6^

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