Program helps Canadian companies hire staff in international markets

Hiring local talent in international locations is one of the best ways for Canadian companies to accelerate their global expansion, especially in a time of restricted international travel. After all, locals know best how to engage clients and customers in their specific markets.

Still, hiring staff in other countries can come with a lot of red tape, unforeseen complications and potential risks. To help Canadian businesses expand their operations into new international markets successfully, the Trade Commissioner Service (TCS) has partnered with Communitech Outposts, a public‑private innovation hub based in Kitchener‑Waterloo, Ontario, that supports a community of more than 1,600 companies, from startups to scaleups to large global players.

Communitech Outposts was first started in 2019 to help Canadian startups and scaleups hire sales employees and foster revenue growth in the United States and the United Kingdom. The program was recently expanded to include 160 countries and to cover an even broader range of staff, ranging from sales and marketing to research & development. With the COVID‑19 pandemic accelerating the trend to remote work, it enables organizations to get the expert, cost‑effective help they need to hire top international talent in‑market.

“COVID‑19 has brought the future of work into the present, prompting many companies to take a proximity-optional approach to hiring for the foreseeable future,” says Azhar Janjua, who is head of the program for Communitech. “Communitech Outposts offers a comprehensive level of support for Canadian companies looking to employ remote talent internationally or conduct business virtually, across borders.”

For companies working on their own, the amount of effort and risk associated with setting up an international entity and especially hiring employees abroad can be prohibitive, Janjua says. “Communitech Outposts removes those obstacles by managing all aspects of employing people in foreign jurisdictions—such as payroll, benefits and statutory filings—enabling companies to access previously out‑of‑reach talent and enter new markets more quickly, with minimal regulatory risk.”

Communitech Outposts grew out of an idea from Dave Caputo, chair of Communitech’s board of directors. Through his previous leadership of a Waterloo‑based company called PixStream, Caputo experienced the headaches that often come with international recruiting and employment. PixStream was able to quickly expand internationally with help from a major investor who had offices around the world to handle hiring, he says. Other companies that Caputo worked with did not have such assistance and had to handle international hiring on their own, resulting in complications and long delays.

“Having a trusted partner who can handle the back‑office headaches of international personnel is a huge time and cost saver,” he explains. “Communitech Outposts—which can get boots on the ground in weeks—saves companies at least nine months in set‑up time, while lowering the risks associated with managing employment in foreign countries.”

Building on a strong partnership with Communitech, the TCS welcomes the expanded program, says Syed Sameer S. Ahmed, a trade commissioner who is head of the Waterloo satellite office of the TCS Ontario regional office.

“Communitech Outposts is a great addition to the international business development toolbox,” comments Ahmed, noting that the program “simplifies and de‑risks the often complex, time-consuming and expensive onboarding of talent in foreign markets.”

Companies that have used Communitech Outposts say that it’s a useful instrument to hire and retain personnel in‑market in a quick, cost‑effective, and efficient manner.

“Communitech Outposts has played a massive role in ensuring the happiness and wellbeing of our staff around the world,” says Jason Cassidy, CEO and founder of the Waterloo‑based Shinydocs. The service helped Shinydocs expand its business globally, secure exceptional talent, negotiate benefit rates for international employees and onboard remote resources without having to take on additional operational costs, he explains.

Gerrit Nagelhout, CEO and co‑founder of Aterlo Networks of Waterloo, says that while it is a Canadian company, Aterlo has lot of customers in the U.S. “Through the Communitech Outposts program, we were able to execute on a strategic U.S.‑based hire at a pivotal moment for our business. When we found out the program was run by Communitech, we knew we were in the right hands,” Nagelhout says. The expertise of the Communitech Outposts team has been “tremendously valuable” in helping Aterlo navigate the costs of health benefits, taxes, regulatory filings and more, he explains. “Communitech Outposts is highly recommended for companies looking to hire and expand internationally.”

In addition to its successful partnership with the TCS, Janjua adds that Communitech Outposts also has partnerships with Canadian business development organizations such as the Business Development Bank of Canada and Export Development Canada. “This makes it a one‑stop‑shop for international expansion that gives companies preferred access to incentive grant and loan programs to facilitate global growth,” he says.

Communitech Outposts is available to Canadian companies of all sizes in all sectors. Learn more about Communitech Outposts and how it can help your organization hire and expand internationally.

The Trade Commissioner Service helps Canadian businesses grow with confidence by connecting them with our funding and support programs, international opportunities, and our network of trade commissioners in over 160 cities worldwide.

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