Global Affairs Canada is looking for women who want to export

Global Affairs Canada is looking for women who want to export

  • What: Women in Business: North America Summit & WBENC National Conference
  • Date: June 15-17 & 20-23, 2016
  • Venue: Scheller College of Business, Georgia Institute of Technology; WBENC National Conference and Business Fair, Hyatt Regency Orlando; Orange County Convention Centre
  • Location: Atlanta, Georgia; Orlando, Florida.
  • Target Audience: Women-owned businesses
  • Sectors: Automotive, Information and Communications Technologies, Infrastructure, Cleantech

Women in business who are thinking about going global have a golden opportunity to do just that in June. The Business Women in International Trade (BWIT) program, part of Global Affairs Canada’s Trade Commissioner Service, is leading a dual-city trade mission that includes the Women in Business North America Summit, in Atlanta, Georgia, from June 15 to 17, followed by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) in Orlando, from June 20 to 23.

BWIT’s mandate is to link Canadian women entrepreneurs with international business opportunities, to help spur growth for their companies.

“We do this in a number of different ways,” said Josie Mousseau, deputy director of the BWIT program. “We have a very active website, which is chock full of information, including a survey to assess whether or not their businesses are export-ready, an annual and monthly newsletter, blogs and trade missions such as the one to Atlanta and Orlando this June. We lead trade missions to provide women entrepreneurs with an opportunity to understand what new markets are all about and secure contracts globally,” Mousseau said.

The first component takes place at Georgia Tech University in Atlanta and for it, BWIT is partnering with the Canadian Consulate in Atlanta, the small business administration in the U.S. and with the Mexican government.

“It’s trilateral in nature,” Mousseau explained. “The summit will support women-owned businesses, specifically in innovative technologies, but across multiple sectors. Because our Atlanta consulate services the southeastern United States — Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama and Mississippi — it will really open up opportunities.”

The event will feature a kick-off dinner, two days and one evening of educational and inspirational panel discussions, networking opportunities, mentors lounge and match-making meetings for the companies that qualify.

The second component, which takes place in Orlando from June 20 to 23 and is organized by BWIT, in conjunction with the Consultate General of Canada in Miami, is anchored on the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council National Conference and Business Fair. WBEN is the largest conference targeted to women who want to access supplier diversity opportunities through U.S. Fortune 500 companies. The conference includes presentations, panel discussions, matchmaker sessions and networking receptions.

In addition to its dynamic trade missions, Mousseau said the BWIT program also has an active dialogue on its LinkedIn group and a Canadian capabilities database that is a specialized directory for women-owned businesses. “It’s a way for women entrepreneurs to promote their businesses and services to more than five million visitors from around the world — for free.”

In honour of International Women’s Day on March 8, BWIT also publishes a special women’s edition of the Trade Commissioner Service’s magazine, which has a huge number of subscribers.

Please visit bwit@international.gc.ca for more information.

Why join a trade mission

  • Trade missions offer you a better understanding of what opportunities are available.
  • They’re a chance to access successful firms that are looking to do business with women.
  • The groups tend to be small, affording you more time with the experts and potential clients.
  • In this case, the opportunity is trilateral, involving women from the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
  • It’s an opportunity to work with the Trade Commissioner Service and learn about these free resources. “People kind of forget about it,” Mousseau says. “It’s one of the best-kept secrets.”

Tips on going global

  • Be clear and specific about your international business goals; you have to be serious about it.
  • Do your market research. Identify your market and why it has potential for you.
  • Talk to a trade commissioner. You know where you can do well and in what markets, but have it validated by a professional. The Trade Commissioner Service (TCS) has 161 offices worldwide.
  • Talk to someone from BWIT about whether you’re ready to export and take the survey to receive another assessment of your preparedness.
  • Make sure you have the capacity and finances to support a global venture. You’ll need to commit over the medium and long term. When you’re supplying a widget to Company B in Atlanta, it’s not just one contract. You need capacity and the capital to finance those contracts.
  • Watch currency fluctuations.
  • Be patient. You won’t get a contract straight away in every new market.
  • Spread your wings in Canada. There are women’s associations across the country and BWIT encourages people who are going into a new market to look for these groups to extend their networks and help navigate it. Businesswomen are often very supportive of each other. Use that to your advantage and help others while you’re at it.
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