Florez JimenaJimena Florez | CEO & Co-Foudner
Bogota | Colombia

In May 2015, 29-year-old female entrepreneur Jimena Florez traveled from Colombia to Washington, DC, as part of the U.S. Department of State’s Women’s Entrepreneurship in the Americas program. Little did she know President Obama would publically recognize her work as a social entrepreneur and applaud her efforts to promote healthy living.

It is difficult to believe that it was only four years ago that Jimena founded Crispy Fruits, offering a line of freeze-dried fruit snacks using produce from local farmers. Until recently, customers could only find Jimena’s exotic, fitness, and power mixes in specialty shops and select cafeterias.  However, with the support of WEConnect International, her customer base has expanded into new territory.

One of the very first female entrepreneurs to earn certification in Colombia, Jimena attended this year’s inaugural WEConnect International Latin American Regional Forum. There she met a representative from a major hotel chain, and now she has a contract that will put Crispy Fruits in Bogota hotel rooms.

Jimena is encouraged by her early success and is already developing new products. She and her team are working with local cacao farmers to make baked goods that will not only provide more protein and iron, but will also burn calories. While she strengthens her customer base in Colombia, she also has plans to expand to the U.S. and Australian markets.

www.crispyfruits.co

didcologoA Testimonial

March 3, 2015

Today, as my company DIDCO turns 17, I wish to share with WEConnect International a story that makes me happy and proud.

Some years ago, when I was a marketing manager at GNP, I was informed that the project I was working on would be cancelled, leaving me with two options:

1.  Relocate into another business unit, or
2.  Accept a severance payment, which would mean the end of my dream of reaching the corporate marketing direction.

I returned to my office and my phone was ringing.  It was the marketing manager of the other GNP business line. She asked me to recommend her a supplier for a corporate image implementation project for a new group insurance company. I immediately answered: “I can do it!” An hour later I was meeting with my first client. That was March 3, 1998.

Throughout these 17 years I’ve faced some failures, but mostly significant accomplishments and successes. Among my 320 customers I’ve had the fortune of meeting WEConnect International, which has given me the enormous opportunity to grow my business and also to meet great friends.

Precisely today, on our 17th anniversary, I received a great gift that I want to share with you: my first contract with a corporation fully committed with WEConnect International: The JW Marriott Hotel, through Belen Alonso.

 

Truly,

Lilia Avendaño Montelongo,
Executive Director
DIDCO

WEConnect International Certified Women Business Enterprises Make Enterprising Women Magazine’s Class of 2015

ewmagIn January 2015, Enterprising Women Magazine announced its class of 2015 – its prestigious awards program that recognizes top women entrepreneurs around the world. This year, seven entrepreneurs certified by WEConnect International made the list:

 Sue Bennett, Bennett Design Associates, Inc., Uxbridge, Ontario, Canada
 Maria Teresa Cepeda Casasus, Imaging Supplies de Mexico SA, Mexico City, Mexico
 Julia Fournier, HCMWorks, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
 Mandy Gilbert, Creative Niche Inc., Toronto, Ontario, Canada
 Gabriela Leon Gutierrez, Gresmex, Naucalpan City, Mexico
 Barbara Issett, IQ Business Events, Inc., Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
 Sandra Sassow, SEaB Energy Limited, Southhampton, United Kingdom
•  Vandana Mehrotra, Meteonic Innovation Pvt Ltd., Bangalore, India (honorobale mention)

Additionally, Executive Director of WEConnect International in the Caribbean Yaneek Page will be awarded for her success in building her business Future Services International in Kingston, Jamaica.

The award honorees’ businesses have widely varying revenues and provide suppliers with a number of products and services, including biotechnology, human resources, manufacturing, and waste management. They will be recognized at the 13th Annual Enterprising Women of the Year Awards & Conference, March 29-31, 2015 at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, USA.

Learn more about WEConnect International in Canada, Mexico, and Europe to see how WEConnect International can help you grow your women-owned business through certification

WEConnect International is no longer affiliated with the organization formerly operating as WEConnect Canada, now WBE Canada.

LorenaGarciniCropperLorena Garcini, CEO and Co-Owner
Mexico City | Mexico

En Español

Mamma Bella, founded in 1995 and led by Lorena Garcini, offers restaurant, employee cafeteria, and catering services, servicing 35 thousand guests monthly. In 2013, Garcini sought certification as a women’s business enterprise because she thought it would bring new business, unique networking opportunities, and support her company’s growth.

She was right!

As a result of their certification, Mamma Bella is now providing employee cafeteria services at two IBM facilities and corporate catering for Accenture. It has also organized some corporate events for Manpower, and have started working with Eurest and Pfizer.  This has translated in a net monthly increase in revenue of $30,000 USD (6%).  Mamma Bella has also hired additional personnel and equipment, and have achieved a significant improvement in brand recognition due to the caliber of their customers. 

“I had previous experience with women organizations and I have been pleasantly surprised with all that I’ve received from WEConnect International,” says Garcini. “I’ve been invited to very important events where I’ve had the opportunity to connect with global corporate buyers. They have helped me grow my product offer, and I’ve received very meaningful mentoring.”

MammaBella

Garcini has ambitious plans for the future as well. She aims to connect with more WEConnect International corporate members and expand the products and services Mamma Bella offers.

“We are looking into expanding our cafeteria line within corporations and our restaurant locations in Mexico City. We are also looking into creating bakery and dressing lines for large retail chains, such as Walmart. I hope our case helps motivate other fellow businesswomen. Faith, work and effort can, in fact, help us reach our dreams!” she adds.

According to Garcini, Mamma Bella stands out with “the quality of our products, the care we take in selecting the ingredients and preparing them, paired with a personalized and timely service aimed to satisfy each customer’s needs at a fair price.”

www.mammabella.mx

ChristyCookChristy Cook, CEO and Founder
+1 416 488 7076 | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Toronto | Canada

Just months after being certified as a women's business enterprise through WEConnect International, CEO and Founder of Teach My Toddler Inc. Christy Cook can expect to see Walmart put her educational learning toys in 2,000 U.S. stores in spring 2015. The Toronto businesswoman's products will be among the very first to be sold with the new "Women Owned" logo developed by WEConnect International and the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council with support from Walmart.

"For us, landing in Walmart U.S.A. is a huge accomplishment," said Cook, "and WEConnect International's certification process was critical to accessing this opportunity."

WEConnect International has been operating in Canada for nearly five years and has certified over 150 companies. Its groundbreaking Seal of Certification Process, recognized by major regional and global corporations such as Walmart, assesses companies' compliance with the universal standards for a women's business enterprise.

"Teach My Toddler Inc. is one of our newest certified businesses in the country, and we are thrilled to see Cook already participating in Walmart's supplier diversity program," said Astrid Pregel, Executive Director of WEConnect International in Canada.

Cook is a Toronto native who founded Teach My Toddler Inc. in 2007. Teach My provides parents, grandparents and caregivers with all-in-one learning kits and sets for babies, toddlers and preschoolers. Requiring no screens, Teach My kits have everything necessary to teach little ones the basics. From ABC to 123 and everything in between, award-winning Teach My kits give children a head start, encourage one-on-one interaction and create a love for learning.

On September 30, 2014 at a ceremony in Montreal, Teach My was named WEConnect International in Canada's Women's Business Enterprise of the Year.

WEConnect International is no longer affiliated with the organization formerly operating as WEConnect Canada, now WBE Canada.

Read more about Cook in The Financial Post.

www.teachmy.com

Grupo Kuri S.A., Tortillas La Malinche
La Malinche | Jardines de Cascajal | Paso Ancho | San Jose, San Jose | Costa Rica

tortillasGrupo Kuri is a company, based in San José, Costa Rica, that produces flour tortillas.

The company became fimilar with WEConnect International at a welcome breakfast organized by Antonina Sequeira and Carolina Giraldo to meet women-owned businesses in Costa Rica. Two weeks after meeting with WEConnect International representatives, the company became certified.

Certification Leads to Contracts!

Grupo Kuri hopes to sell its unique products both nationally and internationally thanks to WEConnect International and the IDB in providing the opportunity to participate in LacFlavors in Granada, Nicaragua.

Grupo Kuri values the business training, networking and marketing opportunities as well as the assistance offered by WEConnect representatives in the Costa Rican office.

As a result of becoming certified, Grupo Kuri is now doing business with Johana Morris de Morrjonssa (Tropics Nature). The company has expanded, and expects to continue to grow, as it innovates and brings new products to the market, such as canastas horneadas tostadas, tortillas horneadas, and other gourmet snacks. As a small family business, access to the large WEConnect International network  has been a big advantage. Grupo Kuri looks foward to continue to innovate its products and expand to new markets.

Bright Solutions
25mts norte de Cemaco Pavas | 75 mts este casa 19 | San Jose, Pavas | Costa Rica

Certification Leads to Contracts

Bright Solutions, located in San José, Costa Rica, provides publicity and marketing services. After becoming interested in the value of the WEConnect International network of member corporations, and looking to gain new contacts with potential clients, Bright Solutions gained WEConnect International certification.

As a result of becoming a WEConnect International certified business, Bright Solutions has experienced increased sales and revenue because of  contracts with Pfizer, Walmart, and Morrjons, as well as WEConnect International certified women's business enterprises. In the future, the company looks to diversify and continue be motivated by increased sales and a growing network.

Mirabelle Mi, Founder
EyezChina
6-601, #1515 Zhangyang Road | Pudong, Shanghai 200120 | +86 21 5049 0660
2-1201, No. 88 Jianguo Road | Chaoyang, Beijing 100004 | +86 8795 3090-811/809

About EyezChina

EyezChina Consulting is a registered, full service market entry consulting firm. EyezChina specializes in assisting foreign small and medium-size enterprises enter and adapt to the Chinese marketplace. EyezChina aims to help clients develop their business by analyzing China's market and combining local expertise with a global perspective. The firm is itself a potential capital investor, and leverages its broad network of financial institutions to invest in clients directly, or connect clients with prime investors.

Why WEConnect International Certification?

EyezChina obtained WEConnect International certification in late summer of 2012. EyezChina was prompted to become certified by the supply chain manager at IBM, who encouraged that they engage with WEConnect International in order to highlight the company's female senior leadership and management team. Along with showcasing the company in terms of supplier diversity, EyezChina hoped that WEConnect International certification would aid in showcasing the consulting firm's expertise and growth-oriented outlook.

While EyezChina is not yet doing business with any new corporations as a result of certification, the company expects to be in talks with WEConnect International member corporations in the near future. The company is especially interested and optimistic about connecting with Accenture, among numerous others.

Building Business Connections

EyezChina has achieved considerable value from the WEConnect International network, through both the online e-network and by attending WEConnect International hosted events, and has gained various new partners and cultivated business relations. In April of 2013, representatives from EyezChina attended the WEConnect International China and New Zealand Consulate Hosted Panel. Among many other contacts, EyezChina founder, Mirabelle Mi, met a woman owner of an airline service company. After the panel, the two women stayed in touch, and are now looking to work together on a business endeavor in the airline industry.

Future Plans

As EyezChina is a relatively young company, expanding brand recognition is vital for the firm in reaching its goal of attracting high-level global clients. Mirabelle Mi asserted that as corporations begin looking to diversify their supply chain, recognizing that EyezChina is a WEConnect International certified enterprise will be a distinguishing asset. According to Mirabelle, WEConnect International certification does not only convey that the company is women-owned, but assures buyers of the company's quality and capacity of expanding and supplying to a broad range of global corporations.

Libre Tea

Wendy Libre

About Libre Tea

Wendy was inspired to start her company when she was travelling through China and saw everyone drinking their tea on the go. When she saw a bus driver in the chaos of his day, calmly drinking tea out of a giant pickle jar while stopped briefly at an intersection, she was inspired to create "Tea Moments"– moments to stop and connect with ourselves in our busy days so we remember where we are and who we are.

She knew that as people in the West drank more tea, a unique product would be needed to create Tea Moments on the go. She created a portable container for loose leaf tea with a removable tea filter. The one that she designed wasn't something that she had seen. The first product review pronounced the containers as "sleek and stylish" as well as functionally unique. The glass interior gives tea a fresh taste every time and the durable poly exterior made it practical and BPA free.

WEConnect International Network

Libre Tea became certified in May 2011 in order to connect with other women business owners in the United States. When she came to the WBENC Annual Conference in Las Vegas in June 2011, she saw how active the group was in the U.S. and was excited to be part of the global network. She made several connections at the conference and was a little overwhelmed with all the potential. Wendy was very inspired to be among new women entrepreneurs and business in the states is a little more "up and at em" and it was good to get their perspective first hand.

A big role that the network played in building capacity for Libre Tea was preparing Wendy to sell her product to large companies. Although she is very familiar with marketing, sales pitches were very intimidating. By practicing her pitch several times, and receiving feedback from other Certified WBEs, Wendy became more comfortable with sales presentations. In addition, preparing for the WBENC conference gave Wendy a big lesson in pitching her product and helped to ensure her presentation was professional, polished and ready to go.

As an entrepreneur, it's easy to feel isolated and WEConnect helps. In the WEConnect International Peer to Peer mentoring group, I was paired with a woman in the UK. She has given me invaluable advice as I expand my business. I was also looking for a tea supplier in China and have connected with them through the network.

It's exciting times for people to come together internationally via WEConnect International. The network can be helpful on a local or global level. One piece of advice is to support the connections that you get and be persistent with follow up.

Libre Tea is now available at Nordstrom!

The WEConnect network also helped her expand her network within a big client, Nordstrom. Her products are now listed with their café/espresso bars and, through a regional event with a U.S. regional partner organization; she was able to meet another contact at Nordstrom. Since all 122 stores buy separately, this new contact will help introduce her to regional and branch managers to start encouraging them to order. Libre Tea is looking forward to doing business with a Certified WBE from Arizona and will reach out to Macy's, spa owners, and promotional product companies for partnerships!

AOG International

Christina Forth Matthews

About AOG International

AOG International is an International Freight forwarder specializing in Time critical freight service. AOG International has been in business for 9 years and is one of the fastest growing logistics providers in the industry. It is their goal to provide a level of customer service beyond expectation and to become an extension of the business' they work with. Christina attributes the rapid growth of our company to their "people first" core value. We are headquartered in Leduc, Alberta, Canada with offices in the United States and China, along with the best in-class strategic alliances and partnerships worldwide.

WEConnect International Certification Stands Out

AOG International became certified two years ago when a friend from Baker Hughes in Houston suggested she look into it. After becoming certified, she included the certificate in her sales package and was told by one of her buyers, that if pricing is competitive and service is good, the certification will tip the scales in being added as a vendor.

The WEConnect Canada training offerings also helped the company develop a professional sales presentation with an improved capability statement and helped her link up to a partner in the United Kingdom.

26% Revenue Growth in 1 Year!

As a result of new business with Agrium and Shell, the company experienced 26 % growth in revenues in one year and went from 12 to 22 employees. They are seeking a new building space to accommodate the growth.  In addition, AOG International will expand their U.S. presence in Houston and start a new brokerage division.

WEConnect International is no longer affiliated with the organization formerly operating as WEConnect Canada, now WBE Canada.