Business Women in International Trade Newsletter 2018

In this issue:

Are you ready to export?

Find out with the Business Women in International Trade Export Readiness Survey. It takes only 5 - 10 minutes to complete. This interactive tool will help you focus your business or export plan before you make the leap into global markets.

How BWIT helps

Business WOMEN in international
trade (BWIT)

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How BWIT helps:

  • Helps you find funding to export and grow
  • Leads women-focused trade missions and events
  • Keeps you up-to-date on support programs and services
  • Facilitates introductions to buyers with Fortune 500 companies
  • Provides access to trade commissioners around the world

Empowering women to export

The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of International Trade
The Honourable
Minister of
International Trade

Trade is in Canada’s DNA—and Canadian business women like you are crucial to our economic success.

As Canada’s Minister of International Trade, I serve as Chief Global Marketing Officer, helping world-class Canadian companies take advantage of the enormous trade and investment opportunities the global marketplace offers as a result of our progressive trade agenda.

In today’s competitive global economy, leveraging the best and brightest entrepreneurs – both women and men – is a win-win situation for all. By advancing women’s equality and closing its gender gap, Canada could add $150 billion to annual GDP growth by 2026 according to a 2017 McKinsey Global Institute study.

In that spirit, I am pleased to introduce the 2018 Business Women in International Trade Newsletter, Empowering Women to Export. This year’s theme is a solid reminder of the Business Women in International Trade (BWIT) team’s commitment to helping you. In these pages, you will learn how BWIT supports you to achieve your international goals.

Together, we are working for you and for a better, more inclusive world. We now have a gender chapter in our modernized Canada-Chile Free Trade Agreement and will push and evolve this progressive approach in all our future trade agreements. Canada is proud to have been a key leader in drafting and promoting the Joint Declaration on Trade and Women’s Economic Empowerment, which was endorsed by a majority of members at the 11th World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference. This is a significant step for equality.

We actively participate in international forums and initiatives that focus on women, such as Women 20, whose commitment is to reduce the gender employment gap by 25% globally by 2025. Our government’s own goal for 2025 is to increase Canada’s goods and services exports by 30%. To do so, we are supporting business women like you, who represent a dynamic force in Canada and around the world.

Take advantage of the opportunities. Together, we can build a stronger Canada and a more prosperous world.

Success starts here

BWIT team with Manjit Minhas (centre), co-star of CBC’s Dragon’s Den.

BWIT team with Manjit Minhas (centre), co-star of CBC’s Dragon’s Den.
“BWIT hosted a successful event with our partners, Carleton University, Export Development Canada, and Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada. The event, Putting Canada's Progressive Trade Agenda into Practice, featured guest speaker Manjit Minhas,” explains Danuta Tardif, BWIT Trade Commissioner.

Canadian business women are a driving force in our economy. On your road to success, the Business Women in International Trade (BWIT) program is your first stop. Whether you’re actively exporting or considering making the leap, our team is here to help make the journey to global markets a smooth one.

Since 1997, the BWIT program has focused on giving Canadian business women the support system they need to access global value chains, including:

“We have a powerful network of allies across Canada and around the world,” explains Josie Mousseau, Deputy Director of the BWIT program. “We’re all dedicated to seeing Canadian women succeed in global markets. We make it our mission to connect business women to the people, programs and opportunities that will help their businesses prosper.”

Manon Pilon, CEO, Derme&Co.

Manon Pilon,
CEO, Derme & Co.

One look at the numbers, and it’s easy to understand why women-owned businesses are a force to be reckoned with in Canada. Majority women-owned businesses contribute over $117 billion annually to the Canadian economy.

One of these is Montreal-based skincare company Derme & Co. CEO Manon Pilon has worked closely with the Trade Commissioner Service (TCS) and BWIT to correct her course in China. After one attempt to enter the Chinese market on her own, Pilon says she had to pull back when her $150,000 investment did not bear fruit.

“I knew China had great potential for us, so I reached out to the TCS and BWIT. I was given excellent advice, and they connected me with the CanExport program. With their help, we received funding to pursue our opportunities there,” says Pilon.

With a fresh mindset and a strong support system, Pilon showcased her company at a large Hong Kong trade show and hosted product demonstrations. “I met a respected Chinese chemist who has become a powerful ally for us in China. He’s now our spokesperson and our distributor.”

Trade Commissioner Audrey Streel, based at the TCS Montreal regional office, supported Pilon’s China plans. “As trade commissioners, we provide highly personalized market preparation services to companies like Derme&Co. We work with them to identify their capacity, clarify their value proposition, examine sales channels, assess target markets and refine their market entry plans.”

As for Pilon, she says it can be easy to feel overwhelmed. “Working with BWIT and the TCS was the best experience. I'm excited about exploring the next market with them.”

“The lesson here is to work with us,” says Streel, “We make it our business to understand yours from the ground up. It is our goal to help you on your export journey—every step of the way.”

Learn more about BWIT’s activities and upcoming trade missions at

Stronger together

BWIT takes great pride in being part of a national network of partners that supports women entrepreneurs. Here’s what one of our valued partners has to say:

“The Women’s Enterprise Centres bring the grassroots development of entrepreneurs to the table, and BWIT provides the opportunities and guidance our business women need to navigate new markets. The women-focused trade missions BWIT leads create incredible opportunities to grow their networks and secure contracts globally. The BWIT team is our go-to resource for information and support.”

Sandra Altner, CEO, Women’s Enterprise Centre of Manitoba and Chair, Women’s Enterprise Organizations of Canada

Join a BWIT trade mission

Business  Women in International Trade trade mission, Business Fair in Las Vegas, 2017
Business Women in International Trade trade mission to the Women’s Business
Enterprise National Council (WBENC) National Conference and Business Fair
in Las Vegas, 2017.

For more than 20 years, the Business Women in International Trade (BWIT) program has planned and led trade missions to open markets and opportunities for export-active and export-ready business women. The trade missions give participants access to trade fairs and buyers, market intelligence and services such as matchmaking meetings, networking events and workshops.

If you’re thinking about joining a BWIT trade mission, here’s what you need to know about our flagship missions:

BWIT trade mission to the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) National Conference and Business Fair

The 2018 mission to the WBENC National Conference and Business Fair takes place from June 17–21, 2018 in Detroit, Michigan. In one word, this event is huge: up to 3,500 attendees, large networking receptions, inspirational speakers, workshops, B2B “speed dating” buyer meetings and countless opportunities to connect.

“The overall message is about leveraging your women-owned business certification to get in front of Fortune 500 supplier diversity executives,” explains Lynne Thomson, BWIT Trade Commissioner.

BWIT trade mission to Go for the Greens (GFTG)

Held in Orlando, Florida every September, GFTG is a boutique event that caps attendance at 300. Women like Sumit Nagi, CEO of Toronto-based Containers International, choose GFTG because of its atmosphere.

“These events can be intimidating,” explains Nagi, “but not Go for the Greens. It gave me a big supportive network and genuine, down-to-earth encouragement. I had five one-on-one meetings with Fortune 500 buyers. The BWIT team prepared me by doing mock dry runs. I was impressed with their support. BWIT put me on the path to successfully securing business.”

Before, during and after your trade mission

When you first join a BWIT trade mission, you receive market advice, support to finesse your company profile, guidance to refine your elevator pitch and access to pre-mission webinars to prepare you before departure. “Once there, we hold a meet-and-greet event and a Canadian reception where Canadian women are the focus,” explains Thomson. “We do everything we can to ensure that you get maximum mileage out of your venture. After the mission, we do follow-ups to continue our support and keep the momentum going.”

Message from Ailish Campbell, Chief Trade Commissioner

Ailish  Campbell
Ailish Campbell (fourth from right) at the Rotman School
of Management event to promote Go for the Greens.
Credit: David Bastedo Photography

As the Chief Trade Commissioner of Canada, I am honoured to work closely with smart, successful Canadian business women every day. ‎With offices in 161 cities in Canada and around the world, our Trade Commissioner Service (TCS) provides practical advice on foreign markets to help Canadian companies export and grow.

Our Business Women in International Trade (BWIT) program is a key part of the TCS. It is the only national program that provides targeted products and services for women entrepreneurs.

Global Affairs Canada’s research tells us that—like many of you—the TCS is a true Canadian success story. Our clients export 20.5% more in value to 20.9% more destinations. With any successful formula, constant innovation is important. That’s why we are hitting the “refresh” button to offer innovative services that will have the greatest impact on your business. We look forward to helping you grow your business.

Selling to the European Union

Now, more than ever, Europe’s doors are open for business. The recent entry into force of the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) means huge benefits for Canadian business women, affecting virtually every sector. Under the agreement, 98% of European Union (EU) tariff lines are now duty-free for goods originating in Canada, and an additional 1% will be eliminated over a seven-year period.

If you are considering exporting to Europe, the possibilities are plenty. The EU is the world’s second-largest economy and Canada’s second-largest trading partner after the United States. With preferential access to this market, Canadian businesses now have a true competitive edge.

In addition to eliminating tariffs, CETA comes with other benefits. It provides increased market access for goods, important trade in services commitments, labour mobility provisions and increased access to government procurement. The agreement’s customs and trade facilitation commitments aim to reduce processing times at the border.

CETA Benefits

CETA Benefits

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  • Eliminates most tariffs
  • Promotes and protects investment
  • Improves labour mobility
  • Improves access for trade in services
  • Provides access to public contracts
  • Reduces barriers to trade
  • Cuts red tape

Vancouver-based Trade Commissioner David Tsui is one of a global team of trade commissioners working to position women and other entrepreneurs in Europe. “When we work with you, we ask some important questions: What do you need in order to enter the market? Whether it is market knowledge, strategy, contacts or problem solving, we can help you break it down. Together, we find solutions and identify changes you need to make to adapt your product or service to each market in order to support a successful entry into Europe.”

Tsui works with women-owned companies like Waterplay, an aquatic play equipment company located in Kelowna, BC. CEO Jill White says the company started pursuing markets in Europe 10 years ago. She’s hopeful that CETA will make Waterplay’s solutions more competitive by opening Canada’s borders to innovative industrial technology and materials from Europe.

“ The key to entering Europe is finding the right partners,” explains White. “Selling is not something you can do well from Canada. You need the right people, and you need to travel to the market regularly to train and support your distributors. This is where having the Trade Commissioner Service in the market really helps.”

Along the way, trade commissioners can provide market intelligence and knowledge, access to key contacts, problem solving support and advice. “ My recommendation? Move now to establish a good position in Europe before other countries negotiate their own agreements,” says Tsui.

Sound advice: Before you go

Suzanne Murray, CEO, AXDEV Group
Suzanne Murray,

Montreal business woman Suzanne Murray, CEO of AXDEV Group, does approximately two-thirds of her business in Europe. She offers these words of wisdom to other business women:

Before you go, remember: Connect with the Business Women in International Trade team and the Trade Commissioner Service for market information, expert advice, on-the-ground contacts and much more.

Industry insights: How you can win with CETA

Did you know?

“The Canada-United States Council for Advancement of Women Entrepreneurs and Business Leaders, which focuses on growing women-owned businesses, will release five reports,” explains Geneviève Gougeon, BWIT Trade Commissioner. Read them as they are published at

Are you searching for sector-specific opportunities under the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA)? Sanjeev Chowdhury, Director, Free Trade Agreement Promotion Task Force, offers some insights.

Q. What sectors offer the greatest opportunities under CETA?
A. CETA covers all aspects of Canada-EU trade, and all sectors of the Canadian economy will benefit. Global Affairs Canada has specifically targeted 12 sectors that may hold the most promise, namely: aerospace; agriculture and agri-food; automotive; clean tech; fish and seafood; forestry; information and communications technologies; infrastructure; medical devices; metals, mining and minerals; oil and gas; and pharmaceuticals.

Q. What types of Canadian businesses stand to benefit from CETA, and how?
A. Ninety-eight percent of tariff lines have been eliminated on merchandise traded between Canada and the EU, so many product manufacturers are already taking advantage of CETA. In some sectors, such as information and communications technologies, all tariffs on products have been dropped. The agreement also provides for streamlined cross-border trade in services sectors, particularly professional services in the accounting, architecture, engineering and legal fields.

Q. Is there a good source of information on CETA for Canadian businesses?
A. Yes, our dedicated CETA website at offers guides on doing business in Europe and exporting to the EU. There are also market-specific pages to help you better understand what’s in demand, as well as how and where to start your export journey.

Q. How can business women make the most of CETA?
A. My advice: Use every tool at your disposal, especially support offered by the Trade Commissioner Service (TCS) and the Business Women in International Trade (BWIT) team. They can help guide you to contacts in the EU.You can also sign up for MY TCS at to access publications and upcoming trade shows related to your sector(s).

Spotlight on E-commerce

Read Spotlight on E-commerce

Support for Canadian clean tech companies

Are you in the business of clean tech? Global Affairs Canada is here for you. Budget 2017 committed $15 million over four years to implement an international business development strategy to help Canadian clean technology firms become world leaders and succeed in the global marketplace. Annie Brunton, Trade Commissioner for clean tech, says the new strategy will:

International Women's Day roundtable

International Women's Day roundtable with the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Canadian business women and key Business Women in International Trade stakeholders on March 8, 2017.

Power up your export planning

Are you using every tool at your disposal to export successfully? Check out the services offered by the Trade Commissioner Service (TCS):

Step-by-step-guide to exporting

Read the Step-by-step-guide to exporting

Financing for globally-minded women

Are you ready to grow, but you need the support to get there? There are three excellent online resources to help you find the funds to take off:

“Finding financing is often one of the biggest needs business women have,” explains Edith Morency, BWIT Trade Commissioner. “In addition to government financing and loan programs, these resources will connect you with private sector sources of financing and funding available through women’s networks across Canada.”

Accelerate your tech success

Sem Ponnambalam, President, xahive

Sem Ponnambalam,
President, xahive

An initiative of the Trade Commissioner Service, the Canadian Technology Accelerator (CTA) helps innovative Canadian technology companies grow by immersing them in global market hubs. There are currently five CTA programs in the U.S. and one in London, U.K. CTAs offer intensive in-market and virtual programs ranging from 4–8 months, and provide workshops, events, mentorship and introductions to buyers, strategic partners and potential investors.

“I would not have been well prepared for my entry into the U.S. without the CTA’s support,” explains Sem Ponnambalam, BWIT client and President of cybersecurity solutions firm, xahive. “I learned so much about marketing, sales and thought leadership. Trade Commissioner Vincent Finn introduced me to investors and venture capitalists. It was incredibly valuable—and it’s a free service!”

Is there a direct link between participating in the CTA and securing financing? Finn thinks so. “Many investors and venture capitalists see the Government of Canada standing behind our companies, and that provides validation. Since the CTA’s inception in 2013, it has served 467 companies that reported $408 million in new capital raised and $146 million in new revenue.” Learn more: Canadian Technology Accelerators.

Certification creates opportunities

Cynthia Spraggs, CEO, Sales Beacon

Cynthia Spraggs,
CEO, Sales Beacon

Are you a woman, Indigenous or minority-owned business? Have you thought about certification? While it may seem like a big step, it opens the door to huge opportunities. Consider this: certification gives women and other minority-owned firms direct access to contracts with multinational corporations and governments with supplier diversity programs. These programs—available through companies like BMW, Disney, MGM, Microsoft, Walmart and others—set aside billions of dollars annually to purchase exclusively from certified businesses.

Certifying bodies include WBE Canada and WEConnect International in Canada for women-owned firms, the Canadian Aboriginal and Minority Supplier Council (CAMSC) for Indigenous and visible minority-owned companies, and the Canadian Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce for LGBT-owned firms. To qualify for certification, your business must be 51% or more owned and operated by one of these minority groups.

“Certifying bodies also provide training, mentorship and advice,” explains Nicola Maule, Trade Commissioner, Business Women in International Trade. “We work closely with them. It means women have a tremendous support system behind them.”

Cynthia Spraggs, CEO of Sales Beacon in Chester, Nova Scotia, agrees. “Diversity certification has given us access to buyers with Fortune 500 companies and governments. Certification ensures our company profile is displayed on the WBE Canada and WEConnect International websites. This showcases our offerings to large multinationals. We also attend supplier diversity events such as the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) National Conference and Business Fair, which gets us closer to supplier diversity procurement opportunities.”

Find out more about certifying your company on our website at

Protect yourself!

One of the most valuable tools in a business woman’s international toolbox is intellectual property protection. To find out more about trademarks, copyright and protecting your intellectual property, visit

Spotlight on EDC: Services for exporters

Export Development Canada (EDC) helps position Canadian companies to respond to global business opportunities. EDC offers insurance, financial services, bonding products and small business solutions. Here are some of valuable programs for business women and others:

EDC is actively exploring new opportunities to better support women-owned businesses. For more information about EDC’s financing and insurance solutions for exporters, visit

“EDC’s Export Guarantee Program gives our bank the confidence needed to sustain our activities, most of which are outside of Canada. The process is quick and streamlined, so we can pursue business without having to complete paperwork every time business arises.” — Michelle Laflamme, CEO, Emovi

Stay connected with BWIT

Stay connected with BWIT

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Save the date!

March 8, 2018
International Women’s Day
Up-to-date information and events at:

April 10 - 11, 2018
2018 Diversity Procurement Fair
Toronto, Ontario

May 10 - 11, 2018
G7 Women’s Forum for the Economy and Society
Toronto, Ontario

June 17 - 21, 2018
BWIT Trade Mission to WBENC National Conference and Business Fair
Detroit, Michigan

September 2018
BWIT Trade Mission to Go for the Greens Business Development Conference for Women Entrepreneurs
Orlando, Florida

September 26 - 27, 2018
WBE Canada Conference
Toronto, Ontario

October 26, 2018
Power the Economy - WEConnect International in Canada National Conference
Toronto, Ontario

Fall 2018
BWIT Trade Mission to Europe

Her Own Way A woman's safe-travel guide

Her Own Way A woman's safe-travel guide

Business networks

Grow your support system by connecting with women’s business networks and associations across Canada. Business Women in International Trade is proud to partner with these groups to enhance the services we offer to business women. This listing is a snapshot of the many groups dedicated to your success. For a full listing, visit


Eastern Canada

Central Canada

Western Canada

Newsletter Editors

Josie L. Mousseau, Deputy Director
Business Women in International Trade

Nicola Maule, 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, 2018

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