March 8 brings together women’s ideas, accomplishments and obstacles around the world.
Export Development Canada said this day serves as an important reminder of what it strives for every day – ensuring the mothers, sisters and daughters in our communities have the same opportunities as men to realize their business potentials and goals without undue challenges.
Across Canada, some 12,700 women business owners are taking on the world and reaping the benefits exporting brings. But there could be more; women are underrepresented among Canadian exporters, said the financial Crown corporation, which helps Canadian companies succeed through trade knowledge, financing solutions, investments, insurance and connections.
Research shows that while women own 16 per cent of all small- and medium-sized enterprises in Canada, only 11 per cent of them are exporting.
EDC said that there are many reasons for this, most of which can be placed into one of three categories: fewer connections, lack of access to financing and growth capital, and lack of knowledge and skills.
“We’re proud to be working to help remove the unique barriers women entrepreneurs often face when looking to grow their business,” said Mairead Lavery, President and CEO, EDC.
“Our commitment to support women-led and -owned businesses is underscored by our ability to provide specialized trade knowledge and expertise, growth capital, and the connections necessary to scale up. Beyond those products and services, we will continue to challenge misconceptions about exporting as we look to inspire all women entrepreneurs to dream big, be daring and take on the world.”
EDC has in place a strategic plan to focus, invest and measure its progress in supporting Canadian women businesses in international trade. A dedicated corporate lead for women in trade – a brand new position within EDC – will serve to further develop and implement a longer-term strategy to ensure EDC meets its commitments and help more women entrepreneurs “go, grow and succeed” internationally.
“While women may be underrepresented now in the world of international trade, we are in the midst of a sea-change,” said Jennifer Cooke, EDC’s Corporate Lead for Women in Trade.
“Whether it’s to get a more accurate picture of risk, or knowing how to request financing, many public and private organizations recognize the value of empowering Canadian women who want to become global entrepreneurs and are here to help.”
Cases in point
Some of the women-led businesses EDC has recently supported:
- Stephanie Lemieux, the founder and CEO of LibelluleMonde Inc. is a self-made entrepreneur who possesses an innate talent for knowing what is required to build her business and become the leader in its field. Lemieux’s company designs, creates, manufactures, installs and removes graphic products for commercial, private, regional and military aircraft. Working in a highly regulated industry presents challenges, but LibelluleMonde leverages the expertise of its knowledgeable employees and senior team of subject matter experts to provide complete solutions for all customers in Canada and abroad. EDC protects Lemieux’s company’s receivables, giving her peace of mind to ship internationally and offer better payment terms to her customers.
- Lori Pecorilli is the president and co-founder of the Latium Group of Companies, an Alberta-based business that, over the course of two decades, has grown into a multi-national. She successfully grew her business from a modest fleet-leasing and -consulting firm into the go-to provider for businesses operating in heavy industry. Because of Lori’s entrepreneurial spirit and skill, her clients can reduce their costs, bolster safety and streamline operations. Along with her husband Tony, who’s also Latium’s co-founder and CEO, Lori has helped the business work with some of the biggest names in Canadian industry. Through EDC products, Latium Fleet Management is able to manage cashflow, increase borrowing capacity and support investments outside of Canada.
EDC said the success of women-led and -owned businesses like these – and thousands of others like them – is Canada’s success. With women creating about half of all new businesses, the time is right to encourage more women to grow their business through international trade.
EDC pledges to work with women entrepreneurs to open the doors to international trade, help build connections and support them as they scale up.