Trade missions and preparation are keys for companies focused on growth via export

Close to 100 Canadian women business owners representing most of the provinces participated in this year’s WBENC Trade Mission. Delegates are women like Tatiana Wensley (left) and Hailey Jeffries (right).

Tatiana is Director of Tamponato Corporate Gifts headquartered in Vancouver B.C. Her company specializes in the design, customization and manufacturing of corporate gifts made of cork. (Side note, check out her website; her products are beautiful and durable; I have one of her cork bags and I love it!)

Hailey is President of the newly established Prairie Fava, an agri-food ingredient supply company headquartered in Glenboro, Manitoba that is dedicated to supplying fava bean ingredients to food and pet food manufacturers. (Side note, fava beans are super high in protein so food processing companies who want to increase the protein in their food products can do so with fava bean flour.) Find out more by following @prairiefava on Twitter.

Tamponato Corporate Gifts and Prairie Fava are two very different companies; one is in the corporate gifts industry while the other is in agri-food products manufacturing. However, these companies have two key criteria in common: they are both woman-owned and they are both interested in expanding their respective businesses via export.

Anyone in the export world will tell you that if you want to build your business via export, you’ve got to go to tradeshows.

Like a trade show, a trade mission is an opportunity for Canadian women business owners with exporting goals to connect with corporate reps, such as buyers and supplier diversity specialists. Here you can see Hailey Jeffries, owner of Manitoba-based Prairie Fava discussing business opportunities with a Starbucks rep during the WBENC 2017 Trade Mission.

However a trade mission is more than a trade show. It also provides delegates (in this case, women business owners) with opportunities to connect with staff from support agencies, such as BWIT (Business Women in International Trade) and WEOC (Women’s Enterprise Organizations of Canada). Below you will find reps from both BWIT and WEOC networking with women business owners.

The BWIT program is part of the federal government’s Trade Commissioner Service (TCS). WEOC is an association of organizations that provide programs and services directly to women business owners in Canada. Together, BWIT and WEOC provide support and service to export-ready and export-active women-owned businesses. Much of this work comes in the form of trade missions.

Some trade missions are multi-sectoral (not industry specific), and therefore suitable for women business owners such as Hailey and Tatiana, who are in very different industries but with the common goal of growing their companies via export. Go For The Greens Business Development Conference is one such event. Held in Orlando, Florida for the past ten years, this year’s conference will take place on September 14-16.

Other trade missions are more targeted to particular industries such as the upcoming Women In Business North America Summit which is focused on women in the technology sector. (Side note, there is a special workshop dedicated to the Business of Women in Film and Television.) It will be held in Atlanta, Georgia on October 3-4, 2017.

For those who see Mexico as a business opportunity, you will want to check out the Women’s Forum for the Economy & Society, taking place in Mexico City on November 8-9, 2017.

For more information on the upcoming trade missions (Go for the Greens, Women in Business North America Summit and/or Women’s Forum for the Economy & Society), as well as advice and guidance on exporting, contact your regional WEOC organization.

Written by Nancy Brommell, Business Advisor, Women’s Enterprise Centre of Manitoba (WECM).