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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, 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^

  • Friday, May 27, 2022 4:24 PM | Anonymous

    OWIT-Toronto participated on panels during a CUSMA SME Women’s Entrepreneurship webinar on May 25 during the first-ever CUSMA SME Dialogue focused on women. Presented by Global Affairs Canada, Canada’s Trade Commissioner Service, the US Trade Department of Commerce and  the Ministry of Economy of Mexico, this event brought together SMEs, support organizations and government reps to discuss resources and strategies for  strengthening trade under CUSMA, boosting cooperation and helping more SMEs reap the benefits of trade.  

    As part of a panel of women entrepreneurs from Canada, the US, and Mexico, Kelli Saunders, President of Morai Logistics and a former OWIT-Toronto Woman Exporter of the Year award winner, shared her insights on the Mexican market and tips on doing business there:

    • Benefits of doing business in Mexico include the ability to cut costs without sacrificing services there, outstanding education and labour force, and closer nearshoring. 

    • Developing personal relationships and trust is key but it is also important to connect with the right people to get decisions made.  Having bilingual staff contributes to stronger communications. 

    • Meal time is also important in business development.  If you are invited to a breakfast meeting, you have likely scored that trust since deals are sealed there; lunch is more casual and dinner more fun.

    • People in Mexico want to know about your family.

    • The business dress code is different – ladies dress smartly and typically wear suits.

    • Know what resources are available to help you export and take advantage of them. 

    OWIT-Toronto’s  VP International, Susan Baka, participated in a panel about resources available to help women businesses leverage CUSMA and do business in North America.  She spotlighted OWIT as a valuable resource and highlighted three things in particular that OWIT offers that contribute to the growth of women globally:  trade missions, international networking, and mentoring new chapters. 

    Our chapter is part of the SME Counsellors Network, which brings together women’s support organizations from Canada, the US and Mexico, to collaborate and to discuss strategies and resources for helping women leverage CUSMA. 

  • Wednesday, April 20, 2022 12:03 PM | Anonymous

    OWIT-Toronto celebrated its partnership with the Canada Arab Business Council (CABC) to provide women-led businesses and entrepreneurs access to market insights and opportunities across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. The partnership was formally announced at a joint OWIT-Toronto and CABC webinar, “Expand your business into the Middle East & North Africa region” in December, which brought together senior women leaders in the public and private sectors to share a current update on doing business in the MENA region, delve into opportunities at the Dubai Expo 2020 and upcoming events and milestones for companies looking to enter, expand or re-activate their trade and investment efforts in the region.

    At the occasion of the launch, Helen Hemmingsen, past OWIT-Toronto President said, “As a global network with local chapter representation across Central, North and South America, Western Europe, Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, the missing gap of global connections has been the Middle East and North Africa region. This partnership serves as a gateway to tap into opportunities for business information, connections and support our members in doing business in the MENA region.”

    CABC is the voice of business between Canada and the Arab world. CABC and OWIT-Toronto have shared interests of advancing international trade between Canada and the Arab world, as well as enhancing international business education and networking opportunities for women entrepreneurs, professionals and trade experts. Cathy Séguin, President and Executive Director, CABC noted, “Our partnership with OWIT-Toronto is a significant milestone for Canada Arab Business Council. It facilitates and accelerates our mission and our scope to promote Canada’s inclusive economic success and to foster international trade and the advancement of women in business in the MENA region. This is also consistent with the government’s strategy in supporting women leaders, entrepreneurs and innovators.”

    The panel discussion was moderated by Carmen Sylvain, Former Canadian Ambassador to the Republic of Colombia, the Kingdom of Morocco and the Republic of Mauritania. She was joined by Katerina Tarasova, Executive Director, International Accreditation at Health Standards Organization; Lindsay Margenau, Counsellor (Commercial) and Senior Trade Commissioner, Consulate General of Canada to Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Karima-Catherine [KC] Goundiam, CEO, Red Dot Digital Inc. & B2BeeMatch; Jennifer Cooke, Director, Inclusive Trade, Export Development Canada (EDC); and Amal Soliman, Co-Founder, Nubia Foods.

    Here are some key take-aways on doing business and expanding into the MENA region:

    • In terms of doing business in the MENA region, it is important not to generalize doing business across the region, as there are many geographical and cultural variations across the MENA region as well as in GDP economy levels.
    • Services to women entrepreneurs are accessible to offset challenges and barriers in accessing programs and solutions through EDC, the Trade Commissioner’s Service (TCS) and other counterparts in the trade ecosystem including the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC), as well as B2BeeMatch’s VIBee program that provides customized solutions to women-led businesses.
    • Key trending sectors in the MENA region that have gained traction especially with the pandemic and increased digital transformation include: healthcare; health tech industry; robotics and artificial intelligence; education tech; health and wellness; and beauty and fashion. The healthcare sector will continue to drastically transform to deal with the aftermath of the pandemic, and also to find new ways of simplifying complex healthcare systems into more efficient and effective ways.
    • Resources, knowledge, education and skills building are available to support Canadian women to export with confidence in the MENA region, providing connections both to the ecosystem of organizations that can support them as well as to different opportunities internationally.
    • Learn and get an understanding of the players in the global trading ecosystem and leverage them. This helps to strengthen export plans and position in markets of interest. Reaching out to the TCS, EDC, and organizations like OWIT, chambers of commerce like the CABC can really help to achieve those export goals and accelerate your success, accessing market knowledge, strategic planning for market risks and challenges.
    • Crucial to start with an international mindset – businesses are more likely to have a global competitive advantage when their leaders have a global mindset and are thinking big from the outset.
    • Participating in trade missions provides opportunities to explore international business prospects, to build more networks and have access to specific sector information.
    • Accessing financing and grants using financial products can help speed up growth, help a business owner achieve their objectives more quickly. Financial support to women entrepreneurs looking at accessing new markets like the MENA region is also available at the EDC.
    • Important to protect yourself as a business owner from liability – this opens up access to more resources like grants or other financial products. It is also important to have a good understanding of all the risks involved in a market and what can be addressed.
    • Access to a strong network – this can enable introductions to customers, suppliers, partners, distributors etc., as well as providing knowledge and support.
    • The MENA region presents a good alternative with diversifying supply chains especially given the global supply chains disruptions caused by the pandemic.
    • Most MENA countries have very conducive environments for women to do and start businesses, with a large number of women entrepreneurs as a driving force for their economies, in leadership roles and company executive roles. Countries like UAE have been voted as the safest in the world for women and provide a global hub for business with a diversity in the population and in cultures.
    • Members were invited to the Expo Dubai 2020, one of the major highlights of the year. The world's largest business event that was held in the UAE, it hosted 200+ pavilions and 24 million registered visits from 178 nations over its six months duration (October 2021 to March 2022). CABC led a high-level Canadian trade mission of 30 companies to the UAE and organized its first international business event 'Canada Arab Business Forum 2022' with 250 attendees representing government and businesses from Canada and the UAE. With a focus on strategic sectors such as Healthcare, Education, Artificial Intelligence, Clean Energy and Agriculture, the event created significant business and networking opportunities promoting bilateral trade and investment outcomes.
  • Monday, April 11, 2022 10:39 AM | Anonymous

    The OWIT chapters in the CUSMA/USMCA/T-MEC region - Ottawa, Toronto, Orange County, Los Angeles, and Mexico - and the Los Angeles Small Business Development Center Global teamed up for a collaborative online event on April 5 that attracted over 300 registrants from around the world. It was the first of a series of virtual events on the topic of recovery and resilience in the trade community that highlight the voices of women in trade. This kick-off webinar brought perspectives from the customs agencies in Canada, the US and Mexico together with three women entrepreneurs from the three countries. Watch the recorded event. 

    Take-aways from he Canadian panelists included:

    From Carol West, CEO & President of the Canadian Society of Customs Brokers

    • Collaboration and sharing were critical during the pandemic and made us all think about border security and collaboration even more.
    • Supply chain challenges accelerated in Canada due to the collapse of the highway infrastructure in BC from torrential storms that caused additional costs and delays, and due to truck convoys that shut down border crossings and caused perishable goods to suffer immensely.
    • CUSMA has made it simpler to use this free trade agreement.
    • On the future of trade: She is hopeful but not totally positive, questioning what the recovery will look like as result of the war in Ukraine. Resilience will mean something different. Her advice: Be increasingly vigilant about cyber attacks on supply chains.
    • Priorities going forward include: collaboration, with the private sector at the government table to inform decision making; commitment to standardization; commitment to communication; and commitment to knowledge and investments in training and professional development

    From Suzie Yorke, Board Director & Founder, Love Good Fats

    • There is a higher bar now for companies to do things the right way – to be transparent and not just pay lip service.
    • Brands that are successful embrace sustainability and have a good story
    • Consumers and retailers want higher purpose brands and this demand is influencing trade in a big way.

    The next OWIT collaboration program will take place on April 29 4/29/22 and will highlight the voice of women in trade from Kenya, featuring the OWIT Nairobi Chapter and Kenyan women in trade. Keep an eye on. www.linkedin.com/in/witoc/ for details.

  • Monday, April 11, 2022 9:47 AM | Anonymous

     A group of women food exporters from across Canada participated in the March OWIT-Toronto Women’s Virtual Business Delegation to Mexico, focusing on the agri-food sector. This represented the third trade mission of its kind organized by OWIT Toronto. With the geographical advantage and the Free Trade Agreements that have eliminated duties on almost all agri-food products, Mexico is a natural market for Canadian exporters.

    Delegates had a total of more than 30 pre-arranged virtual business-to-business meetings with qualified buyers or partners. Feedback from delegates at the debriefing session was encouraging as they asked OWIT-Toronto to continue promoting and running business delegations; delegates found the virtual B2B meetings very productive and a delegate plan to follow the same format and template to reach out other prospect clients from the European market.

    Webinar kick-off

    Other food exporters seeking to diversify their markets beyond Canada joined the March 22 complimentary opening session of the Business Delegation. The Canadian Ambassador to Mexico, Graeme C. Clark, and the Ontario Minister of Agriculture, Food & Rural Affair, Lisa Thompson, shared welcoming remarks. The event included two panels - one featuring Catherine Beach of EDC and Brooke Gordon of BDC, who highlighted resources to help women-owned businesses export to Mexico; and the other featuring Nydia Orue, General Director, Cluster Agroalimentario de Nuevo León, Agroalim, and Rosa Maria Suarez, Import Manager at La Comer (one of the largest supermarket chains in Mexico City), who shared what buyers in Mexico expect from suppliers. Among their tips:

    • Having good communication is always key in everything. Stay in touch to understand the buyer’s needs and keep the buyer informed about new items in your catalogue.
    • Meet potential distributors and business partners through trade local associations

    Many thanks to our Business Delegation partners – Global Affairs Canada, through the Embassy in Mexico City , Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA), EDC, BDC, Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub, BMO, City of Toronto and Bennett Jones.

    And a big shout out Board member Alma Farias for spearheading this 2022 Business Delegation, along with her committee, Susan Baka, Selda Erkilic and Helen Hemmingsen. Watch the webinar recording. 

  • Monday, January 24, 2022 3:07 PM | Anonymous

    Calling all #shetrades #womenentrepreneurs in the agri-food sector!

    Interested in doing business with Mexico?

    Join OWIT-Toronto's virtual trade mission, 22-24 March, 2022 to Mexico.  Products of interest: gourmet/specialty agri-food products, private label, health and wellness, food ingredients (including beans and pulses).

    Program includes:

    - Pre-mission educational webinars.  See our events calendar for Trade Commissioners Service/EDC webinars on Exporting to the Mexican market:

    - January 25, 2022: Doing Business in the Agri-Food Sector in Mexico.

    - January 26, 2022: Food Labelling Requirements in Mexico.

    - January 27, 2022:  Making the Most of your Buyer's Meeting.

    - Briefing and overview of Mexican market.

    - Pre-arranged B2B meetings with qualified buyers and partners, arranged by an industry expert based in Mexico.

    Registration:  www.owit-toronto.ca/event-4518483?CalendarViewType=1&SelectedDate=3/12/2022

    Email us at info@owit-toronto.ca with any questions.

  • Tuesday, December 07, 2021 9:04 AM | Anonymous

    If you are in the agri-food industry and interested in exploring the Mexican market, you’ll want to consider joining a Virtual Canadian Women’s Trade Mission to Mexico – Agri-Food sector scheduled for March 22- 24, 2022 and hosted by OWIT-Toronto. The mission is organized in collaboration with Global Affairs Canada and will provide women-owned and women-led businesses a great opportunity to enter and grow into the dynamic Mexican market and to showcase Canadian agri-food products and the contribution of women in this industry.

    Mexico is one of the largest importers of agri-food products in the world. That – combined with tariff-free access under the CUSMA free trade agreement – makes Mexico an attractive market for Canadian exporters.

    Thanks to our sponsors and supporters – including GACEmbassy, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food & Rural Affairs, EDC, the Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub, BMO, Bennett Jones, and the City of Toronto – the participation fee is quite modest (OWIT members: $150/company; non-members: $250/company). It includes:

    • Pre-arranged virtual business-to-business meetings with qualified buyers or partners
    • Pre-event market information webinar sessions by experts and the Trade Commissioner Service
    • Digital catalogue with you company listing in Spanish and English
    • Support from OWIT-Toronto

    Check out for more information Note that space is limited. Be sure to register today to save your spot!

  • Monday, November 29, 2021 9:12 AM | Anonymous

    OWIT-Toronto’s November webinar on The Global Supply Chain Grinch that Could Steal Christmas attracted record participation. It featured logistics expert Christian Sivière of Solimpex who gave an insightful presentation analyzing the causes, the impact on businesses and consumers, as well as exploring some remedies as the world slowly emerges from the pandemic.

    Here are some key take-aways on the causes of the supply chain disruptions and actions that can be taken to mitigate them:

    • The pandemic shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) mainly manufactured in China, the blockage of the Suez Canal by a huge container ship for a week, and now the recent events in BC that have destroyed some bridges and rail lines have all contributed to the heightened awareness of the importance of the supply chain and to create shortages of commodities and products.
    • The slow-down in production during Covid, the shortage of inventory when demand picked up, the resulting price increases, changes in consumer buying patterns, labour shortages, port congestion and huge increases in shipping costs have all combined to cause supply chain disruptions.
    • E-commerce growth is another contributor to both supply chain issues and environmental damage. The more we purchase online, the more we contribute to global warming (free shipping/free returns contribute to over consumption and waste, to high carbon emissions because of more trucks on road, and to congestion at ports.)
    • There is a huge economic impact when supply chain disruptions cause a shortage of products (eg. semi-conductor shortage for autos which means less vehicles at dealers).
    • Companies have to bite the bullet and rebuild inventory, which forces them to stock products earlier – now it is a Just in Case concept rather than Just in Time, which increases costs.
    • Trend: Many companies are starting to source locally (ie regional supply chain vs global supply chain) but this can be easier said than done if there is not supply.
    • Strategies for mitigating supply chain disruptions:
      • If it is not possible to buy local, at least try to build a regional supply chain – eg buy from US or Mexico rather than China.
      • Stock products earlier but reduce inventories to match sales patterns.
      • Buy from local merchants rather than online.
  • Monday, November 29, 2021 9:06 AM | Anonymous

    The Women-in-trade G20 Young Entrepreneurs’ Alliance (YEA) Canada Panel and Networking Event, presented by Futurpreneur in partnership with EDC and OWIT-Toronto on 2nd November, brought together women delegates of the 2021 Canadian G20 YEA delegation and G20 YEA alumni as well as members of OWIT-Toronto, from a variety of regions and sectors. Held in the context of the G20 YEA 2021 Hybrid Summit which took place in Milan in October 2021, the session offered insights on international trade opportunities and the advancement of women in international business. It also provided an opportunity for young women entrepreneurs to connect and uplift each other, share common challenges and learn more about the solutions and services available to support their trade and export goals.

    The panel included Audrey Charles, 2021 G20 YEA delegate and founder & CEO of Convenient Business Solutions Inc.; Jennifer Cooke, Director of Inclusive Trade at EDC; Audrey Ross, Logistics & Customs Specialist at Orchard Custom Beauty, and moderator & President of OWIT-Toronto, Helen Hemmingsen. The panel discussion focused on experiences and data driven research on the current barriers women continue to face in trade and export from an intersectional and intersectoral perspective. While Audrey Charles highlighted her experience and learnings as a tech founder with multinational experience before and during the pandemic, Audrey Ross offered insights into navigating global supply chains in times of disruption and the importance of women-driven networks including OWIT-Toronto. Jennifer Cooke showcased insightful results of gender-driven research led by EDC and observations on export trends and gaps.

    The panel discussion was followed by a networking session where participants were able to connect and exchange on key take-aways around inclusive trade and its impact on economic recovery. The importance of accessing supportive networks and connections and sharing of resources and experiences were key takeaways from the panel and networking sessions.

    For more information on:

    EDC’s Women in Trade: https://www.edc.ca/women-in-trade

    OWIT-Toronto: https://www.owit-toronto.ca/

    Futurpreneur: https://www.futurpreneur.ca/en/

    G20 YEA: https://www.futurpreneur.ca/en/landing-pages/g20-yea-2021/

  • Wednesday, August 18, 2021 10:07 AM | Anonymous

    We are looking for new board members to join our team.

    This is an exciting opportunity to develop board governance skills for non-profit organizations. New board members will draw on a range of experience, talents and a keen interest in international trade and/or women's economic empowerment. No previous experience needed. You will develop new skills in areas like: board management, organizing and hosting virtual/hybrid events, trade policy development, and communications (website design and newsletters).

    Board members are elected at our AGM on January 26, 2022.

    You'll need to be a member of OWIT-Toronto, and can join within ten days of being elected. See our membership page for benefits and rates. If you're not a member, but are interested in this voluntary role, contact Helen Hemmingsen or Carolina Soto to discuss further. Current listing of board members and their roles can be viewed at: www.owit-toronto.ca/board_members

organization of women in international trade-toronto

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

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