Pioneering BDC China trade mission opens doors for women tech leaders
April 26, 2018, Montréal—Four early-stage Canadian tech firms led and co-led by women met key Chinese customers in a pioneering week-long trade mission to China in April organized by the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC).
The mission allowed artificial intelligence-driven software companies Irystec, Zighra, Miovision and Fluent.ia to meet major Chinese business partners and institutional investors in Beijing, Shenzhen and Hong Kong.
“This was one of the most successful trade missions I have been involved with in many years of supporting Canada-China trade. I believe it significantly raised Canada’s profile as a country with disruptive and highly innovative technology companies,” says Alison Nankivell, Vice President, Global Expansion at BDC.
“We wanted to organize a BDC-focused trade mission built around the needs of our clients. Most other missions focus on industrial and mid-sized companies, but fewer focus on the technology sector, early-stage companies or women entrepreneurs. If it makes sense for our companies, we’ll hold more missions like this in China and elsewhere,” Nankivell says.
“BDC’s sponsored trade mission for Canadian women entrepreneurs helped Zighra make invaluable introductions to tech savvy partners and customers in China and Hong Kong” said MJ Couldridge, VP of Partnerships and Sales, Zighra.
Michelle Scarborough, Managing Director, Strategic Investments and Women in Tech at BDC Capital, agreed on the mission’s success: “We are very excited about the new opportunities for our participants. Some of the Chinese investors were so impressed they are interested in meeting other Canadian women-led and co-led tech companies. We had greater-than-expected benefits.
“If Canadian businesses don’t go abroad, they will miss out. There is no substitute for face-to-face meetings,” she says.
“Women entrepreneurs represent tremendous potential for growing our economy. International trade missions such as this support the growth of innovative women-owned businesses. The 2018 Canada-China Year of Tourism also offers a unique opportunity to build on people-to-people ties to establish meaningful business partnerships in one of the world’s fastest growing markets. I commend BDC on its initiative in promoting Canadian women on the world stage and on its role in delivering Canada’s first national women entrepreneurship strategy”, adds the Honourable Bardish Chagger, Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister of Small Business and Tourism.
The mission culminated with a visit to Hong Kong’s International ICT Expo, Asia’s premier ICT trade fair, where the four companies had a space in the Team Canada booth. The mission is part of BDC’s effort to support women entrepreneurs, which includes $1.4 billion in loans to women-owned firms by 2021 and $200 million in investments through the Bank’s Women in Technology program.
BDC is the only bank devoted exclusively to entrepreneurs. It promotes Canadian entrepreneurship with a focus on small and medium-sized businesses. With its 118 business centres from coast to coast, BDC provides businesses in all industries with financing and advisory services. Its investment arm, BDC Capital, offers equity, venture capital and flexible growth and transition capital solutions. BDC is also the first first financial institution in Canada to receive B Corp certification. To find out more, visit bdc.ca.