Language selection


Business Women in International Trade Newsletter 2019


In this issue:

  1. A message from the minister: Diversify, grow, succeed!
  2. Diversify and grow with BWIT
  3. Is your marketing pitch perfect?
  4. Explore new markets on a BWIT trade mission
  5. CanExport triples its funding for Canadian small businesses
  6. Trade routes to the pacific wide open for women
  7. Message from Ailish Campbell, chief trade commissioner
  8. Is your business certified?
  9. TCS launches new trade diversification initiative
  10. Experience export success
  11. Financing solutions for business women
  12. Accelerate and succeed!
  13. Save the date!
  14. Business networks
  15. Newsletter editors

Diversify, grow, succeed!

The Honourable Jim Carr
Minister of International
Trade Diversification

Text version - BWIT program enhancements in budget 2018

More global opportunities

  • Enhanced trade missions
  • Opening doors abroad
  • Increased business connections

More support

  • Expanded advocacy
  • Improved access to accelerators

More BWIT trade commissioners

  • Dedicated BWIT trade commissioners posted across Canada
  • Enhanced advice and global support leading to export success

More intel

  • Focused research on women exporters, markets and sectors
  • Forging relationships with new regional and international partners
  • Enhanced information and tools on BWIT website

Trade diversification means entering into new trade deals, new markets and new sectors that grow Canadian exports and lead to more high-quality jobs for Canadians. It also means making sure that all segments of Canadian society can compete and succeed in the global marketplace. Increasingly, women entrepreneurs are taking their place as key drivers of Canada’s economy and contributing to Canada’s competitive advantage.

Canada’s commitment to grow an inclusive economy that works for all segments of society is integral to the free trade agreements we negotiate. We were the first G7/G20 country to incorporate trade and gender chapters in updated free trade agreements with Chile and Israel. Recent agreements, such as the Canada- EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) deal with 10 other Asia-Pacific economies, aim to prevent gender-based discrimination in trade negotiations and put an end to employment discrimination. Together, these measures will help women-owned businesses take advantage of the many opportunities these agreements offer.

Building on Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada’s Women Entrepreneurship Strategy in Budget 2018, the government has committed $10 million over five years to help women-owned businesses access expanded export services and opportunities through the Business Women in International Trade (BWIT) program.

This investment means:

Now is the time to tap into the wealth of resources at your disposal and propel your business to compete, diversify and succeed in emerging markets around the world.

Diversify your markets

This edition of the Business Women in International Trade Newsletter is packed with information on services and support for women-owned businesses. Find out about the Government of Canada’s expanded investments that will help you benefit from Canada’s free trade agreements and connect your business to 1.5 billion consumers.

Diversify and grow with BWIT

The signs are clear: it’s time to diversify into new markets. New trade agreements are opening opportunities with reduced tariffs, and the Government of Canada has announced an ambitious Trade Diversification Strategy.

“It’s an excellent time to explore partnerships beyond Canada’s borders,” says Josie Mousseau, Deputy Director of the Business Women in International Trade (BWIT) program. “Doing so can help you unlock new revenue, spread risk and find room to grow.”

Marie-Josée Lavoie
Founder, GreenCompete

“BWIT’s services are an efficient way for women entrepreneurs to enter an international market,” says Marie-Josée Lavoie, founder of GreenCompete.

Lavoie is currently negotiating deals with multinationals she met on a 2018 BWIT trade mission to the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) National Conference and Business Fair in Detroit. “Their women-focused trade missions are excellent. I only wish I’d done one sooner. There’s an advantage to travelling with other women-owned businesses. We have a special synergy and camaraderie.”

Lavoie plans to attend WBENC with BWIT again in 2019. In the meantime, she reaches out to the BWIT team and uses the BWIT monthly newsletters to stay up-to-date. “It’s an excellent way to hear about events, best practices, government programs and funding opportunities.”

Meghan Chayka, co-founder of Stathletes, a firm which provides data on athletic performance, has also benefited from BWIT services. “During a recent trade mission to Germany, BWIT introduced me to key partners and orchestrated invaluable introductions in my target market,” says Chayka. “They’ve been integral to my export plans and I’m very thankful for their help.”

Norma Rossler
President, Blot Interactive and Red Meat Games

Norma Rossler, President of Blot Interactive and Red Meat Games, has worked with BWIT to grow her video games businesses in Kitchener and Halifax. “The Trade Commissioner Service (TCS) and BWIT provide us with a sales force in over 160 cities worldwide. They help make the right connections to grow your company,” says Rossler. “By participating in BWIT trade missions, you make great contacts with Canadian women entrepreneurs. I am so proud of the women I have met. If we can get more Canadian business women into the global market, our economy will blossom.”

This is the goal of the expanded BWIT program. “Thanks to Budget 2018 funding, BWIT and the TCS are implementing new business activities in key global markets that will help our Canadian women-owned exporters expand internationally,” adds Mousseau.

Is your marketing pitch perfect?

They say that luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. You’ll find plenty of opportunity on our upcoming women-focused trade missions, so get yourself ready with a persuasive pitch!

Canadian business women participants with their German hosts on the BWIT trade mission to Europe at Hamburg City Hall, Germany, November 2018. Photo credit: © Carolina Hiebl 2018


  • Tailor the pitch to your listeners
  • Explain why they should care
  • Cover the who, what, where, why and how
  • Focus on your solution
  • Brag about your successes
  • Add a memorable fact or anecdote
  • Keep it to 45 seconds maximum
  • Be confident and friendly
  • Practice, practice, practice


  • Talk too fast
  • Try to cover your full history
  • Give away your trade secrets
  • Pitch before you know your audience
  • Close with a hard sell

“The Business Women in International Trade (BWIT) team provides advice and support in the lead-up to a trade mission. We offer preparatory webinars and coaching on-site so you can refine and elevate your pitch to new heights,” explains Joëlle Midy, BWIT Trade Commissioner.

Are you ready to export?

Find out in just 5–10 minutes with our Export Readiness Survey. This digital tool will help you assess your knowledge and capabilities when it comes to entering global markets.

Explore new markets on a BWIT trade mission

Pina Romolo, President of Piccola Cucina (left) and Nancy Brommell, Business Advisor, Women’s Enterprise Centre of Manitoba (right) at WBENC 2018.

There’s no better way to explore new markets than by visiting them yourself. So, why not join the hundreds of women entrepreneurs who have participated in Business Women in International Trade (BWIT) women-focused trade missions over the past 20 years?

Pina Romolo, President of Piccola Cucina—a Winnipeg-based gourmet food business—attended the 2018 Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) National Conference and Business Fair with BWIT. “It was my first trade mission and I had lots of questions. BWIT answered them all. I gained two partnerships, including one with a major U.S. airline,” says Romolo. “Travelling with BWIT helps
you make the most of your time. They take every opportunity to champion you.”

In November 2018, BWIT ran its first trade mission to Europe. Lisa Grogan, President of Overlap Associates, participated. “I think there’s tremendous value in travelling with other women entrepreneurs. It was a great dynamic. We all bonded and shared knowledge,” she says.

Lisa Grogan
President, Overlap Associates

Grogan recently expanded her design business to Europe. While on the trade mission, she learned about the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA)—a treaty that eliminates 98% of tariffs between Canada and the European Union. “I feel more informed and excited about the opportunities Europe offers,” says Grogan.

Christopher MacLean, a Senior Trade Commissioner based in Berlin, provided support to the BWIT delegation in Germany, the mission’s first stop. “The trade mission generated a
lot of interest from German partners,” says MacLean. “Our business women met potential partners via structured B2B meetings, before networking more extensively at the business dinners.”

Apply for CanExport.

Apply for CanExport financial support

The trade mission then continued in the U.K. “The benefit of working with the Trade Commissioner Service (TCS) was clear,” says Trade Commissioner Sue Rauth. “Trade commissioners in London, Germany and within BWIT worked together to leverage their business networks in Europe and to open the door to new business opportunities for all the trade mission participants.”

“Once your business is ready for international markets, call on BWIT or the TCS in your region for assistance to identify qualified contacts, including agents, distributors, buyers and partners,” says Lynne Thomson, BWIT Trade Commissioner. “Sign up for our monthly newsletter to learn about upcoming trade missions worldwide.”

CanExport triples its funding for Canadian small businesses

More women-owned businesses than ever can get financial assistance to explore international markets, thanks to recent updates to CanExport. This government program provides funding to support activities such as market research, trade shows and business travel.

Meghan Chayka
Co-founder, Stathletes

Meghan Chayka, co-founder of Stathletes, has used CanExport twice: “The funding allowed us to research our target market, set up client meetings and start the sales cycle. It expedited our business growth and has proven very valuable for us.”

“Join us for the next women-owned business trade mission to WBENC from June 23–27, 2019.” says Edith Morency, Trade Commissioner, Business Women in International Trade.

CanExport recently received $140 million in additional funding to 2024, taking the program from $10 million per year to $30 million annually. Changes to eligibility criteria open CanExport to businesses with up to 500 full-time employees and annual revenue of $100,000–$100 million.

The program now offers grants of up to $30,000 to small businesses, providing business women with more flexibility and faster access to funding.

CanExport has put concrete provisions in place to accommodate special circumstances of under-represented groups, including Indigenous, LGBTQ2, women and youth entrepreneurs. These businesses may be eligible for grants under the minimum threshold of $10,000 when taking part in missions organized by Global Affairs Canada.

Trade routes to the Pacific wide open for women

Comprehensive  and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership: 11 countries, 500 million people and 13.5 trillion in GDP

Canadian business women can now access one of the largest free trade agreements in the world: the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

The CPTPP covers 11 countries: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam, representing 500 million consumers and 13.5% of global GDP.
Under the treaty, 99% of Canada’s current exports will be duty free. Canada was one of the first to ratify the free trade agreement, so your business can start benefiting immediately.

“The tariff eliminations are significant,” says Andrée Cooligan, Director, Free Trade Agreement Promotion Division at Global Affairs Canada. “In Japan, 81% of Canadian exports are now duty free. This will rise again to 96% once the agreement is fully implemented.”

“Canada’s first-mover advantage can help business women carve out market share in emerging economies such as Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei,” she adds. 

Other CPTPP markets offer plenty of opportunities for business women. “Chile offers an open, stable and progressive economy with policies and programs that encourage women’s participation in the marketplace,” says Santiago-based Trade Commissioner Margot Edwards. “Its public procurement platform ‘Chile Compra’ identifies women-owned businesses, so government agencies can source from them.”

“Singapore is an excellent entry point for Southeast Asia,” explains Trade Commissioner Caroline Mourand, based at the High Commission of Canada in Singapore. “Some 150 Canadian companies have already set up shop here. It’s an ideal market to test new technologies, access financing or find new partners.”

Elysia Vandenhurk
Chief Operating Officer Three Farmers Foods

Saskatchewan’s Three Farmers Foods is planning to make the most of the new trade agreement. “We have struck a great relationship with a customer from Singapore and we’re making progress on a deal in Japan and Mexico. We’re hopeful the CPTPP will open more doors for us as we expand our sales in these markets,” says Elysia Vandenhurk, Chief Operating Officer.

Cooligan advises women entrepreneurs to research which CPTPP countries their non-CPTPP competitors export to and the Harmonized System (HS) codes for their goods. “Cost savings from the reduction or elimination of tariffs on your products may mean your company now has a competitive advantage. Importers in the CPTPP markets are looking to diversify their global supply chains.”

“Business Women in International Trade (BWIT) is on hand to help you explore opportunities in CPTPP countries. We can connect you with trade commissioners who know the local market and with partners who can help you take your export plans to the next level,” says Danuta Tardif, BWIT Trade Commissioner.

The Board of the Women’s Enterprise Organizations of Canada, including Sandra Altner, Chair (4th from left) with Christopher Thornley, Director General, Regional Trade Operations and Intergovernmental Relations, Global Affairs Canada (4th from right), January 30, 2019 in Ottawa, Ontario.

Women entrepreneurs often reach out to member organizations of the Women’s Enterprise Organizations of Canada (WEOC) to develop their capacity to export. Our partnership with BWIT allows our member organizations to better help women-owned businesses access new markets by attending trade missions, connecting with trade commissioners, meeting potential partners and gaining knowledge. These opportunities are growing exponentially as more resources are provided to enhance our support of women’s entrepreneurship in Canada.

— Sandra Altner, Chair, WEOC

Message from Ailish Campbell, Chief Trade Commissioner

Ailish Campbell Chief Trade Commissioner

In November 2018, the Government of Canada announced new investments in trade that will propel the Trade Commissioner Service (TCS)—and your business—into a much brighter future.

On the front lines, the TCS is being transformed to better position Canadian entrepreneurs, including business women, for success in international markets. The five-year Trade Diversification Strategy includes:

  • Enhancing support for emerging digital, e-commerce and intellectual property sectors;
  • Expanding the Canadian Technology Accelerator program to more global commercial centres and technology hubs;
  • Substantially increasing CanExport funding support for small and medium-sized enterprises;
  • Modernizing TCS digital tools and market intelligence to facilitate seamless client referrals between key government partners; and
  • Adding trade commissioners to our network so Canadian businesses can take advantage of high-growth markets such as those covered by Canada’s free trade agreements.

Our goal has always been to provide you with the best possible programs and services, so you can grow your business in new markets. With enhanced capacity and service, the TCS is here to help your business take on the world.

Is your business certified?

Nathalie Roemer

“Certification as a women-owned business definitely fits into our growth strategy, not only for networking but also for recognition and credibility. Certification has resulted in leads, including with multinationals I met on a recent trade mission. I’m certain it will continue to open doors as we grow.”—Nathalie Roemer, Co-founder of Optimas Management Group

Stéphanie Lemieux

“When your product is equal to or better than the competition’s, certification can open doors. It's a real asset that allows us to benefit from supplier diversity opportunities and win contracts. We became certified five years ago. We then prepared to do business with large multinationals by focusing on our knowledge and the contacts we obtained through our experience, our network and certification.”—Stéphanie Lemieux, Founder and CEO of Libellule Monde

Think about getting certified today. Visit:

TCS launches new Trade Diversification Initiative

In late 2018, the Trade Commissioner Service’s (TCS) Business Women in International Trade (BWIT) program received new funding to support events and activities abroad that will help Canadian women-owned businesses access new export opportunities in key global markets. To date, the fund has supported 20 international trade diversification activities focused on North America,
Europe and Asia-Pacific.

“We are excited to leverage our TCS network and to work with them in implementing new activities at Canadian missions abroad that will ultimately increase the number of Canadian women-owned businesses in the global marketplace,” says BWIT Trade Commissioner Belinda Kent.

So far, the fund has helped increase the participation of Canadian women-owned businesses in new or existing trade missions to France, Germany, Singapore, the U.K. and the U.S. It also helped fund commercial events around International Women’s Day and market intelligence reports on opportunities for Canadian women-owned businesses in high-growth markets.

Experience export success

Ready to take your business global? Explore the tools and services that can help prepare you for success in international markets.

Export services 

The Trade Commissioner Service (TCS) has offices in more than 160 cities in Canada and around the world. The TCS offers business intelligence, contacts, market reports, trade missions, events, webinars and more. Create your profile for My TCS to receive free, personalized information for your sector and market interests. CanadExport magazine shares success stories, podcasts, videos, and details on upcoming trade events.

As part of the TCS, our team is here to help you take advantage of the full range of export tools and services available for women in business.

—  Ariana Makris, Coordinator, Project Services, Business Women in International Trade (BWIT)

Tools and resources

TCS - Step-by-step guide to exporting

Read the Step-by-step-guide to exporting

Start planning with the TCS Step-by-Step Guide to Exporting—and other guides, including global value chains and selling to foreign governments. The Spotlight Series provides resources to help your business become more competitive globally.

Export Development Canada's (EDC's) Risk Management Guide offers export tips and guidelines to assess your risk as you move into a foreign market.

Subscribe to the Business Women in International Trade (BWIT) Monthly News, so you can keep on top of trade news, funding opportunities, and upcoming conferences and events.

Explore Canada’s trade agreements to discover the opportunities, conditions and restrictions for selling to your chosen market.

Finally, search the Tariff Finder to learn which tariffs apply to your goods, and to compare tariff rates among export markets.

Protect your competitive advantage

Entering new markets? It’s important to safeguard your intellectual property from being used by other companies. Refer to Intellectual property and copyright to learn about trademarks, copyright, and patents.

Financing and funding 

Looking for the capital you need to act on a business opportunity? CanExport offers financial assistance to Canadian firms seeking to develop new export opportunities and markets. Firms in the agriculture and agri-products industry, including fish and seafood, should apply through Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s AgriMarketing program.

The Canadian Technology Accelerator initiative helps Canadian technology companies get access to in-market mentoring, a workspace and introductions to potential partners, investors and customers.

The Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) offers venture capital, financing and advisory services to turn your export plans into reality.
Export Development Canada (EDC) provides financing and credit insurance to grow your credit profile, compete for large contracts and protect your company from non-payment.

Learn about other financing opportunities in your region and across Canada.

The Business Women in International Trade team at Global Affairs Canada.

The TCS helps business women navigate the tough questions: Is that sales inquiry from abroad legitimate? How do I need to adjust my product for the market? Do we have the capacity to fill a large international order? We’re here to guide you.

— Mona Taylor, Trade Commissioner, Prairies and Northwest Territories

Did you know?

The Trade Commissioner Service provides enhanced services for Canada’s Indigenous,LGBTQ2, women and youth entrepreneurs.

Canada's inclusive approach to trade

Financing solutions for business women

CanadExport - Official magazine of the TCS -

CanadExport – Official magazine of the TCS

When it comes to financing and protecting your exports, your go-to Government of Canada resources are the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and Export Development Canada (EDC).

What’s more, both BDC and EDC are actively investing in Canadian women-owned and women-led businesses.

“EDC’s goal is to enable more Canadian women entrepreneurs to realize the growth and benefits of exporting,” explains Jennifer Cooke, Corporate Lead – Women in Trade. “My role is to ensure that we provide the right tools to encourage women to take advantage of international business opportunities, including getting more business women involved in our matchmaking programs with multinationals.”

“BDC is creating programs with women entrepreneurs in mind,” says Laura Didyk, National Lead, Women Entrepreneurs. “Over the next three years, we are increasing our lending target to $1.4 billion to support women-owned businesses. Our $200 million Women in Technology Venture Fund (WIT) invests both capital and resources to help companies led or co-led by women scale up and compete on the
world stage.”

Knowledge is power

As part of its Women Entrepreneurship Strategy, the Government of Canada is investing in a new Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub. Led by Ryerson University, the Knowledge Hub will provide a one-stop shop of information on women's entrepreneurship, research and statistics.

The hub will generate new insights to further the goal of doubling the number of women-owned small and medium-sized enterprises by 2025.

Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub

Accelerate and succeed!

The Canadian Technology Accelerator (CTA) is a program that helps high growth, high potential Canadian companies in the information and communications technology, cleantech and life sciences sectors gain traction in markets such as Boston, New York, Philadelphia and San Francisco. More recently, the program expanded to Hong Kong, Taipei, Singapore and Tokyo.

Successful applicants get access to coaching, mentoring and hands-on experience in their target market for four to six months.

“Our CTA advisors work alongside companies to establish key performance indicators and set objectives for their time in the market. Then, they provide the experience, advice and connections required to meet those goals,” says CTA Trade Commissioner Danielle Hunnisett.

To encourage more women to participate in the program, the CTA program launched an initiative called “48 Hours for Women in Tech.” Women entrepreneurs spend two days in a new market to decide whether the full CTA program is a fit for their business.

“Over the past five years, CTAs have successfully introduced close to 500 Canadian technology and life sciences firms to new markets in the U.S., helping them raise more than $570 million in private capital, and generate $190 million in revenue,” says Hunnisett. “Women participants have been very successful in the CTAs. We want to see more Canadian women-owned businesses benefit from this program.”

Save the date!

March 8, 2019
International Women’s Day

April 16–17, 2019
2019 CAMSC Diversity Procurement Fair
Toronto, Ontario

June 23–27, 2019
BWIT Trade Mission to WBENC National Conference and Business Fair
Baltimore, Maryland

September 18–21, 2019
BWIT Trade Mission to Go for the Greens Business Development Conference for Women Entrepreneurs
Orlando, Florida

October 2019
Power the Economy
WEConnect International in Canada National Conference
Toronto, Ontario

November 14–15, 2019
WBE Canada Conference
Toronto, Ontario

Connect with us




Twitter: @TCS_SDC, #WomenExporters

One of BWIT’s greatest strengths is our ability to connect you with opportunities and expertise to support your global growth. Keep in touch. We’re dedicated to your success.

—  Miriam López-Arbour, BWIT Information Coordinator

Business networks

Build your support system and expand your network.

“Business Women in International Trade (BWIT) is proud to partner with women’s business groups across Canada to enhance the services we offer you. Start here to connect with organizations dedicated to your success,” says Krista Hamilton, BWIT Trade Commissioner.

Complete listing of groups


Futurpreneur Canada

Organization of Women in International Trade

Startup Canada

Women Presidents’ Organization

Women’s Enterprise Organizations of Canada

Eastern Canada

Centre for Women in Business (Nova Scotia)

Newfoundland & Labrador Organization
of Women Entrepreneurs

Prince Edward Island Business
Women’s Association

Women in Business
New Brunswick

Central Canada

Femmessor (French only)

PARO Centre for Women’s Enterprise
(Northern Ontario)

Réseau des Femmes d’affaires du Québec
(French only)

Women’s Business Network Ottawa

Western Canada

Alberta Women Entrepreneurs

Women Business
Owners of Manitoba

Women Entrepreneurs of Saskatchewan

Women’s Enterprise Centre (British Columbia)

Women’s Enterprise Centre of Manitoba

Newsletter Editors

Josie L. Mousseau
Deputy Director
Business Women in International Trade

Belinda Kent
Trade Commissioner
Business Women in International Trade

Edith Morency
Trade Commissioner
Business Women in International Trade

The Business Women in International Trade Newsletter is published annually by the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service of Global Affairs Canada.
© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, as represented by the Minister of International Trade Diversification, 2019

Date Modified: