WBE Canada Celebrates 10th Anniversary at 2019 Annual Conference

WBE Canada’s 2019 Board Members with Keynote Speaker Manjit Minhas. Left to right: Kiruba Sankar (RBC), Michelle Albanese (TD), Michael Bourne (IBM Canada), Jen McAvoy (Cotton Candy), Catherine Grosz (BMO), Manjit Minhas, Dora Silva (Accenture), Silvia Pencak (WBE Canada), Maddy Baker (TELUS), Andy Thompson (Nokia), Michelle Bianchi (WBE Canada), Julie Kaye (TBD Telecom By Design) Not in the picture: Lesley Lawrence (BDC), Mike Pacholok (City of Toronto)

Women Business Enterprises Canada (WBE Canada) celebrated a decade of leadership in supplier diversity at its 10th Anniversary Conference & Gala November 14-15, 2019 held at the Toronto Congress Centre. Supported by corporate & government partners from across North America, this year’s event was made possible thanks to organizations like BMO, Accenture, EDC, Global Affairs Canada, BDC, RBC, Toyota, CIBC, ABC Technologies, SunLife Financial, TD Bank Group, FCA, BGIS, GM, IBM, Cotton Candy, SHI Canada and many others.

2019 WBE Canada’s Trade Show featured Canadian Certified WBEs.

WBE Canada’s 2019 Annual Conference
2019 Annual Conference was attended by over 250 delegates including certified women-owned businesses, corporate and government leaders, partner organizations and other supporters. Primary conversation was around the status and future of women entrepreneurship and supplier diversity in Canada. Attendees learned about the latest research, the importance and impact of supply chain diversification as well as upcoming WBE Canada projects and initiatives.

The day and a half event provided attendees with the information identified as the top challenges by our WBE Community in the 2019 Survey – from how to market to your audience, strategic leadership skills, to legal tips for vendor contracts, grants and funding options for women-owned businesses. Insights into government procurement, exporting and building supplier diversity awareness across the organizations were a big hit. Speakers included Certified WBEs, Corporate Members and Partners of WBE Canada.

Lisa Foote, Founder of Lisa Foote Consulting, a Certified WBE company, helped the audience to move beyond negative thoughts during her keynote “Silencing your Saboteur – To Move Forward”. B2B Networking Opportunities

Traditionally, WBE Canada events present a great networking opportunity for the buyers and suppliers and this year’s Conference wasn’t an exception. In addition to breaks, we offered networking Roundtables with 27 sourcing tables, Matchmaker (sponsored by Toyota) with 138 one-on-one meetings between buyers and suppliers and Trade Show (sponsored by RBC and FCA) attracting over 185 attendees – pretty impressive for the first time event! We are already hearing about new partnerships and sourcing opportunities and we know that more will follow in the upcoming weeks.

Status and Future of Women Entrepreneurship in Canada Panel at 2019 WBE Canada Conference.

2019 Awards Gala
In celebration of its 10th Anniversary WBE Canada hosted its first-ever Awards Gala Ceremony featuring keynote speaker Manjit Minhas, founder of Minhas Breweries and co-star of CBC’s Dragon’s Den who kept audience engaged and inspired to not take the easy path, but fight the good fight, face obstacles and challenges in business and life with courage. One of her many pearls of wisdom was that “you don’t get what you deserve in life, you get what you negotiate” as she encouraged all the attendees to up-level their negotiation skills.

Silvia Pencak, President WBE Canada recognized the leadership of 6 Corporations who were founding members in 2009 and continue their support today: Accenture, BMO, IBM, Nokia, RBC and TELUS. The evening continued with WBE Canada’s Supplier Diversity Awards recognizing the significant contributions made by corporations and leaders to the economic advancement of women-owned businesses in Canada and the achievement of Canadian women-owned businesses in 2019. Sponsored by GM, BMO, IBM, RBC, SHI Canada and Cotton Candy, 2019 awards were handed out.