International Bridges are Helping Canadian Entrepreneurs Succeed Worldwide

Image of smiling panelists participating in the virtual discussion featuring Samir Dossal, Hon. Mary Ng, Rocco Rossi, and Wendy Cukier.

Entrepreneurs in Canada can reach over a billion new consumers through free trade agreements with countries across the globe. Over the last few years, the value of bilateral trade between Canada and Pakistan specifically has exceeded $1 billion annually. Pakistan offers tremendous opportunities for Canadian businesses—particularly in infrastructure development and clean energy.

Dr. Wendy Cukier, Director of the Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub (WEKH), travelled to Pakistan in 2017 for the first “Leaders in Islamabad” conference. Dr. Cukier recently interviewed the Honourable Mary Ng, Minister for Small Business, Export Promotional and International Trade during a webinar hosted by the Canada Pakistan Business Council (CPBC), and moderated by Samir Dossal, President of the CPBC. The discussion examined the considerable potential that remains to be unlocked within this relationship, and for Canadian businesses in other international markets. In Dr. Cukier’s view, Pakistan has been overlooked and underestimated as Canadian businesses move to international markets.

Salma Zahid, the Member of Parliament for Scarborough Centre introduced the Minister and explained how parliamentarians across the government are supporting the Canada-Pakistan relationship. As the Chair of the Canada-Pakistan Friendship Group, MP Zahid works to strengthen the long-lasting people to people relationship between both countries.

Rebuilding and Recovering Internationally

In her discussion with Dr. Cukier, Minister Ng underlined how international trade can help Canada rebuild and recover more quickly from COVID-19. The Minister reiterated the Canadian government’s commitment to sustaining and promoting bridges between Canadian and Pakistani businesses during COVID-19 and beyond.

Over the last few months, the importance of diplomatic relationships and collaboration between countries around the world has become increasingly clear. Minister Ng explained that the pandemic cannot and should not be used as an excuse to halt international trade and turn inward. “The path forward is clear: We must protect the health and safety of our people and our businesses while supporting them economically, including through scaling up and accessing new and vibrant international markets like those in Pakistan,” the Minister explained.

While Canada is a large country, our population is relatively small. Entrepreneurs can grow their businesses exponentially through international markets. Canadian business-owners are well-positioned to succeed in international markets, Minister Ng explained, because of the connections that Canadians hold to different countries around the world.

“I often say Canada can trade around the world because we all come from around the world.”

Minister Ng encouraged business leaders and entrepreneurs seeking global markets to take advantage of the Trade Commissioner Service. The Service operates on the ground in countries around the world to help Canadian businesses succeed outside of our country. The CanExport program has also adapted to the challenges COVID-19 has introduced to provide funding to businesses and entrepreneurs working internationally in innovative ways during the pandemic.

Rocco Rossi, President and CEO of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, concluded the discussion by emphasizing the importance of organizations like the CPBC that help elevate Canadian leaders, products and services to the global stage by building international bridges.

Watch the panel discussion on-demand here.

Additional Supports

With help from the WEKH network, we have compiled government programs, resources, and supports that can help women entrepreneurs in Canada guide their businesses through the COVID-19 pandemic. Visit our resource guide.

We have also produced a new, bilingual platform with the Forum for Women Entrepreneurs to help women entrepreneurs and the organizations who support them connect more easily. The WEKH/FWE: Sharing Platform, built by SheEO, encourages members of the women entrepreneurship ecosystem to “Ask” for what they need, or “Give” what they can to help others.

Learn more about WEKH/FWE: Sharing Platform.