Opportunities for Women Entrepreneurs in a world of CETA

Opportunities for Women Entrepreneurs in a world of CETA: Takeaways from CETA Trade and Gender Workshop at the Canadian Mission to the EU

Bastedo Blog Post, April 26, 2019
Group of Women at the Canadian Mission to the EU in Brussels, Belgium
Left to right: Susan Baka, VP, International, OWIT, Jane Murphy, Founder and Chair of the Board, European Data Protection Office, André François Giroux, Director, Trade Agreements Secretariat, Global Affairs Canada, Ruth Vachon, President, Réseau des femmes d’affaires du Québec, Stéphane Lambert, Counsellor and Head of Trade, Economic and Science & Technology Policy, Ambassador Dan Costello, Ruth Bastedo, Principal Bastedo Strategy and Communications, Liva Andersone, Policy Officer, Directorate-General for Trade, EC, Josie Mousseau, Deputy Director, Business Women in International Trade (BWIT) Program, GAC

Earlier on this month, I had the privilege of being a panelist at a workshop hosted by the Canadian Mission to the EU in Brussels, Belgium. The audience was a cross-section of business, NGO’s, business support organizations and EC representatives.

Jane Murphy speaking at podiumIt was fascinating for me to be part of this discussion, expertly led by Jane Murphy, Founder and Chair of the Board, European Data Protection Office, about growing women-owned businesses in another part of the world- and through the lens of CETA (Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement).

The conclusion I came to, was that the EU market has much to offer Canadian Women Entrepreneurs, and that now is a great time to explore it.

There is a lot of interest in supporting Canadian Women Entrepreneurs to engage in new markets- from the Trade Commissioner Service, and the Business Women in International Trade (BWIT) Program to our Missions abroad- and business organizations in local countries, who are keen to network with Canadian women. There are going to be increasingly more activities focused on women in the entrepreneurship ecosystem for women entrepreneurs eager to grow their businesses to take advantage of.

What are the best ways to begin exploring this amazing opportunity?

Start local!

If you have an account with the Magnet Export Business Portal, then you know that there are a multitude of opportunities right here in Canadian cities to connect with incoming missions or visitors from the EU. Many of these are posted in the portal. Some great upcoming examples are:

  • You can register for free to Collision’s B2B meetings with incoming businesses on the 11 trade missions from the EU- (e.g. Italy, France, UK, Finland, Norway, Germany, Switzerland, Slovakia, Sweden, Czech Republic)… this is a fantastic way to explore business opportunities and network with businesses from your own backyard
  • Connect with organizations such as EUCAN, with offices across Canada, who are tasked with hosting incoming missions, and connecting with the local business communities… at any one time, there are a plethora of local events to attend or plug into, and meet incoming delegation: http://www.euccan.com/event-calendar/
  • Watch out for incoming missions specific to women entrepreneurs- in Belgium, I spoke to a group of women entrepreneurs coming out to Western Canada from Germany, looking to connect with local business owners- details again will be posted in the Magnet Export Business Portal
  • Stay connected with local Chambers of Commerce and in Toronto with the Toronto Region Board of Trade, and specialty programs on trade such as the upcoming workshop on “Cross Border E-Commerce Essentials”, or keep tabs on your Industry Associations for upcoming events and opportunities to connect with groups coming in from outside of Canada- again, the Magnet Export Business Portal can help.
  • Check out WEOC (Women’s Enterprise Organizations of Canada) for local business support organizations who cater to women entrepreneurs

Do Your Research

Give yourself a primer on CETA and Exporting to the EU- you need to figure out if this is a market that is right for your business.

There is great info on The Trade Commissioner Service Website- some basics are:

  • Introduction to CETA:

  • The Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) is helping to create jobs, strengthening economic relations and boosting Canada’s trade with the world’s second-largest market. CETA is a progressive free trade agreement which covers virtually all sectors and aspects of Canada-EU trade in order to eliminate or reduce barriers. For example, prior to CETA’s entry into force, only 25 percent of EU tariff lines on Canadian goods were duty-free. With CETA, 98 percent of EU tariff lines are now duty-free for Canadian goods. Once CETA is fully implemented, the EU will have eliminated tariffs on 99 percent of its tariff lines. Learn more about CETA with this Guide to CETA and Business Toolkit
  • Guide to Exporting to the EU
  • Make sure you are connecting with the BWIT program- Business Women in International Trade, both through their exploring website, but also through signing up for a Magnet Export Business Portal account to get timely updates on activities

Keep an Open Mind!

There are many different reasons to export. My own exporting activities have been on the smaller scale- but I deeply appreciate the benefits those activities have brought to my career and businesses, thinking and overall perspective on the positioning of Canadian companies in a larger global context. In my field for instance- digital media and communications, Canadians bring a unique perspective to Canadian markets… we have a North American sensibility, but are used to operating in an incredibly diverse eco-system.

It’s not until we get outside our own country and environment, that we can sometimes appreciate both our strengths and weaknesses- and the work tends to be very interesting. Making an effort to get to know potential clients, partners and activities in markets outside of Canada contributes to creativity, increased revenue and makes entrepreneurs more open to new ideas that can lead to innovation.

Ruth Bastedo is principal of Toronto-based Bastedo Strategy and Communications Inc., and is a Senior Consultant at Magnet, is a digital social innovation platform at Ryerson University that connects people, businesses and organizations to opportunity, helping regions and communities to collaborate and grow. Magnet provides the digital infrastructure for Canada’s new Future Skills Centre, a forward-thinking research centre with a focus on how to best prepare Canadians today for workforce opportunities of the future. The Future Skills Centre is a partnership of Ryerson University, The Conference Board of Canada, and Blueprint.