This past January saw the first Trade Accelerator Program (TAP) for women-owned, women-managed and women-led businesses here in Toronto, Canada. We received interest from different sectors across Ontario and Canada, with dozens of willing participants. In the end 17 companies were selected; both product and services-based. These companies ranged from a variety of different sectors: consumer goods, media and entertainment, engineering, supply chain and logistics, food and beverage, manufacturing, knowledge-based industries. This cohort also gave us the opportunity to partner with different women’s organizations in international trade such as WeConnect International, Organization of Women in International Trade- Toronto, Canadian Women’s Chamber of Commerce, The Beacon Agency, and Company of Women. Also, our current TAP partners have different women initiatives within their organizations – BDC, EDC, RBC, Global Affairs Canada through the Trade Commissioner Service, Ontario Government’s Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, FedDev – and were all very excited to support the cohort.
Why focus on women-lead businesses? Only 16% of Canadian small-to-medium-sized businesses (which we call SMEs) are owned by women. Of those SMEs, only 11% are exporters (EDC). This presents a tremendous opportunity to address a gap in the business community and bring together exceptional speakers and networking opportunities of for these businesses to help them take their offerings global. This is one of the many exciting initiatives happening at the World Trade Centre – Toronto, where we continue to help develop Toronto as a first-class city in which to do business!