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Canada leads first women’s trade mission to the United Kingdom

Edmonton Unlimited CEO joins four local women entrepreneurs on the UK Trade Mission

Edmonton is home to many successful woman entrepreneurs and women-owned and led businesses, four of which are taking their business to the global stage on Canada’s first-ever women’s trade mission.

From March 13-15th, led by the Honourable Mary Ng, Canada’s Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business, and Economic Development, the UK Trade Mission will focus on expanding trade between businesses owned and led by women in a variety of technology-based sectors. Among the delegation is Edmonton Unlimited’s CEO, Catherine Warren, along with four other trailblazing entrepreneurs:

  • Connie Stacey, Founder & CTO, Growing Greener Innovations, which aims to end energy poverty globally with their award-winning battery energy storage system, The Grengine™
  • Lana Cuthbertson, Co-Founder & CEO, and Kacey Machin, Co-Founder & COO, Areto Labs, an Edmonton-based tech company focused on creating safe and welcoming online communities, using machine learning to combat online hate.
  • Morẹ́nikẹ́ Ọláòṣebìkan, Founder & CEO, Kemet Group and KemNet, a PharmaTech startup which harnesses the power of technology to enable pharmacies to order compounded medications easily

We connected with Catherine and a few of these local entrepreneurs for a Q& A on the importance of their participation in Canada’s first women’s trade mission and advice for other women in entrepreneurship.

What does being a part of Canada’s first-ever women-focused Trade Mission mean to you? 

It’s always an honour to join a formal trade mission and to benefit from Canada’s reputation on the global stage. But to be part of a delegation led by Minister Mary Ng, with top female CEOs who lead in solutions to global challenges, during Women’s History Month – what could be better? I hope to position Edmonton further as an inclusive global innovation capital and to support Edmonton’s incredible startups in opening new sales channels, securing strategic deals, and attracting enlightened investment. – Catherine Warren, CEO, Edmonton Unlimited

As women tech entrepreneurs, we understand the struggle of trying to make our mark in a male-dominated industry. So, being part of a mission recognizing and supporting women in business is a milestone for us. We are excited to connect with other women entrepreneurs and leaders shaking things up in the business world. We look forward to coming away with new partnerships, knowledge, and inspiration to help us take our mission of building humanity in digital communities to new heights! – Kasey Machin, COO, Areto Labs

The United Kingdom is one of the top 10 countries that exported the highest dollar value worth of drugs and medicines by available records from 2020. I hope to come away with relationships that enable my work to redress issues of unavailable quality essential medications across the African continent. – Morẹ́nikẹ́ Ọláòṣebìkan, Founder & CEO, KemNet

What advice would you give other women looking to propel their businesses onto the global stage?

Public speaking is your friend. Find major international events and congresses in your field and position yourself for thought leadership. Invest in becoming an engaging moderator, panelist, and keynote speaker to drive your business value proposition home and make your business case for you. Use your public persona as a launch pad for securing meetings with target clients, investors, and VIPs. Invite the local Canadian ambassador or consul general to attend events and champion your success. Repurpose your talks and panels for press releases, media interviews, digital posts, and social assets. Tag other thought leaders and build your posse. You’ve got this!  – Catherine Warren

As a B2B company, explaining your product in a way that resonates with potential customers and investors is essential. To do this effectively, you need to craft a compelling narrative that explains why your product is unique, how it addresses a pressing need, and what impact it can have on the world. It’s also crucial to build strong partnerships and networks with potential customers, investors, and partners and seek opportunities to collaborate with other organizations and stakeholders. – Kasey Machin

Solve a real problem…a real problem that bothers a lot of people. – Morenike Ọláòṣebìkan

How can other women get involved in initiatives like this UK mission?

We are fortunate to be Canadians and to have opportunities from all levels of government to attend trade and investment missions. Get to know Global Affairs Canada and your provincial trade offices. Identify high-value geographical markets and advocate for delegations and other supports. When you are travelling on business, connect in advance with Canadian and provincial teams on the ground, they are there to help you succeed. Edmonton Unlimited is also here to help with your pathfinding and navigation as you take your innovations from here for the world. – Catherine Warren

Seek out local organizations and networks that support women entrepreneurs in the industry. These organizations often provide resources, mentorship, and networking opportunities to help women entrepreneurs connect with potential partners and investors. In our experience, the Edmonton community, particularly the Edmonton Unlimited program and the Canada-UK Chamber of Commerce, has been very supportive and helpful in suggesting opportunities to grow our business locally and internationally. Secondly, attending conferences and networking events related to your industry can also be effective in connecting with potential partners and investors. – Kasey Machin

Other women-owned and women-led businesses can become involved in similar initiatives by nurturing international and local relationships that are instrumental to their businesses. Over the years, my work with a not-for-profit I founded led to me forming relationships with folks in diplomatic offices, enabling my work abroad. For those of us who are immigrants to Canada, our diasporic linkages are rich with networks that, when nurtured, organically enable our work to scale across borders. Also, applying to foreign incubators and accelerators can be a path to expanding our reach beyond national borders. – Morenike Ọláòṣebìkan

RESOURCE: Federal services and opportunities for businesswomen in international trade 

What is one piece of advice you have for women just starting a business?

The life of an entrepreneur is full of peaks and valleys, it can be all-consuming and push the limits of your ingenuity. For some, there is no thrill like it! When you embark, be sure that you are deeply committed to your company’s vision and purpose. Keep your eyes on this prize. This is what keeps great founders going through tough times and can make the highs that much higher — for you and the world. – Catherine Warren

It’s important to identify a problem you are passionate about, develop a business solution, and stay true to your values and mission as you grow your business. By staying focused on your purpose and values, you can build a business that not only generates revenue but also makes a meaningful impact on the world. – Kasey Machin

Get clear on why you are stepping into the entrepreneurial world. You might not know why when you start, and I think that is okay. But it will be important to have a clear purpose for what you are building to stay rooted in the work. – Morenike Ọláòṣebìkan

It’s important to honour the success and contributions of women, we also recognize the necessary work that needs to be done to create an equitable world. Trade missions and opportunities like this are an important part of recognizing women-led businesses and the positive effect they have on Canada’s economic growth. Let’s continue to work together to create an environment where woman entrepreneurs can succeed!

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