For many women-owned and -led enterprises in Canada, entering global value chains can be the catalyst for major growth and open the door to many new business opportunities.
But meeting the demands of international buyers takes careful planning and preparation. How do you know if your business is ready to make the leap? Do you have the right skills and trade knowledge to succeed within global supply chains? Have you developed a strategic export plan and socked away sufficient working capital to explore new markets?
Answers to these questions will help determine your business readiness, which is critical to growing and diversifying your company. The reality is where you are and where you want to be in the future may not be aligned. That’s where our Business Readiness Assessment tool can help.
In collaboration with Export Development Canada (EDC) and the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC), WEConnect International launched a free online tool in October to help Canadian women entrepreneurs determine their company’s readiness to do business with large and multinational value chains. It also suggests specific resources and training programs to address any business capability gaps.
According to Jennifer Cooke, EDC’s director of Inclusive Trade, the easy-to-use tool is a game-changer, giving companies the clarity and confidence they need to expand internationally.
“This tool is so valuable because it helps owners identify what steps they need to take to succeed within global supply chains and to reach new markets,” says Cooke, who has worked closely for many years with Canadian women in trade.
“I’ve seen firsthand the difference it can make in their business growth trajectory when women have a clear understanding of where they are in their business journey, what gaps exist in their current business strategy and what steps they need to take to continue to scale and grow,” she says.
As a member-led global network that connects women-owned businesses to qualified buyers in 125 countries around the world, WEConnect International’s mission is to help drive money into the hands of women business owners by enabling them to compete in the global marketplace.
When we provide access for women-owned businesses to competitively bid for procurement opportunities and invest in their growth, not only do we identify all of the best and most innovative suppliers, we also support inclusive and sustainable growth.
But preparation is everything. Before you can enter international supply chains, you first need a clear understanding of the risks and challenges of doing business abroad.
The collaboration of EDC and BDC with WEConnect International is part of a joint commitment to support Canadian women in trade and promote supplier diversity and inclusion. We have undertaken this work:
- To enable women entrepreneurs to self-assess where they are on their business growth journey and what gaps they may have;
- To provide a directory of resources in Canada to address business readiness gaps and progression for readiness; and
- To gain a better understanding of the business readiness level of women-owned businesses in Canada to help develop future strategies and policies to better serve them.
How the tool works
The Business Readiness Assessment, which is only available currently in English, evaluates five key areas of business: strategic, commercial, operational, financial and people. Through a series of questions and scenarios, a company’s maturity level (one to four, with one being the lowest) is determined. Questions range from how many employees does your business have to what are your growth expectations, insurance needs and risk management strategies? Each answer is given specific points with an overall top score achievable set at 167 points.
Depending on your score, you’ll be directed to resources that are appropriately aligned to address your general business readiness gaps.
“You will never be 100% ready and that’s OK—sometimes taking a leap of faith is important—but do your homework, have a plan, take proactive small steps,” Cooke advises, adding, “Just don’t hold back waiting for everything to be perfect.”