Power the Economy 2017 Logo final               CanadaPic2017

Date: Thursday, November 30, 2017

Location: Beanfield Centre, Toronto, ON, Canada

WEConnect International in Canada will host its annual “Power the Economy” signature event for women-owned businesses, multinational corporations, senior government officials, and partner organizations supporting the growth of women’s entrepreneurship across Canada. Power the Economy offers targeted education for business owners seeking to grow their businesses as well as a rich environment for corporations interested in creating or improving their inclusive sourcing programs. The agenda includes world leaders in supplier diversity and inclusion, business experts, successful women business owners, valuable networking opportunities, concrete business leads, and the high-powered energy and enthusiasm of impassioned advocates ready to power up women’s contributions to economic growth.

Note: Only WEConnect International certified women's business enterprises with up-to-date certification will be qualified for the corporate matchmaking session.

Purchase Tickets here. 

Agenda Overview


Registration Opens

9:00 am

Welcome Remarks

Host: Silk "Eternia" Kaya, Artist, Connector, Engager 
Speaker:   Elizabeth A. Vazquez, CEO & Co-founder, WEConnect International 

9:15 am  

Panel: Accessing Working Capital to Grow Your Business

Introduction: Laura Didyk, Vice President, Alberta South, Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC)
Moderator: Elizabeth Vazquez, CEO & Co-Founder, WEConnect International       


  • Sharon Connolly, Vice President, Financing and Consulting, Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) 
  • Laurel Douglas, CEO of Women Enterprise Centre (WEC) and Director of Women’s Enterprise Organizations of Canada (WEOC)
  • Tara Bosch, Founder and CEO, SmartSweets

9:50 am

Panel: Financing Your Export Plans   

Moderator: Lesley Lawrence, Senior Vice President, Financing and Consulting, Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC)


  • Julie Pottier, Vice President,Commercial Markets & Small Business,Export Development Canada (EDC)
  • Elise Racicot, Acting Executive Director & CanExport Program Manager, Trade Commissioner Services, Global Affairs Canada
  • Dionne Baker, Founder & CEO, DeeBee’s Organics 

10:30 am


10:45 am

Panel: Inside the Mind of a Buyer

Moderator: Lee Lewis, Global Supplier Diversity Manager at Enterprise Holdings


  • Elizabeth Auceda, Manager, Supplier Diversity, Sodexo
  • Genevieve Godin, Associate Director, Global Procurement, Merck
  • Andrea Zervos, Acting Manager for Supplier Engagement Division, Office of Small and Medium Enterprises, Public Service and Procurement Canada (PSPC)
  • Lori Benson, Global Procurement Leader, Ernst & Young
  • Shelly Kiroff, Senior Vice President, Health, Wellness and Consumables, Walmart Canada

11:45 am

Lunch with Keynotes

  • The Honourable Bardish Chagger, Minister of Small Business and Tourism
  • Michael Denham, President and CEO, Business Development Bank of Canada
  • Susan Muigai, Executive Vice President, Human Resources, Walmart Canada 


1:00 pm

Concurrent Workshops

Taking on Challenges with Design Thinking

Participants will gain a thorough and useful introduction to human-centred design, and how they can apply it to real challenges in their own companies. With an engaging hands-on activity that addresses a real-time problem, workshop participants will learn practical skills and tools as they work through an accelerated design process.

Facilitators: Lisa Grogan, Founder, President and Chief Relationship Officer, Overlap Associates and Lorraine Randell, Senior Designer, Overlap Associates

The Secret to Cohesive Teams

This workshop is essential for those who are passionate about increasing team and leader performance, reducing cost and changing the culture of their workplace to be highly accountable and productive.

Facilitator: Renée Safrata, CEO, Owner and Founder, Vivo Team Development

2:20 pm

Concurrent Workshops

Marketing Risk


In this highly actionable talk Saul Colt will go over both and set you on your way to being successful in finding the first 1000 customers for your small business or startup or your first 100,000 customers if you are a larger organization.

Saul Colt, Founder and Creative Director, The Idea Integration Company


Positioning Your Brand for Global Expansion

Location: 204BC

This workshop will cover the minimum components that make up a “brand platform”, The importance of an explicit competitive positioning in the marketplace you want to play in, what you need to think about so that your brand gives you the ability to create a meaningful and cohesive customer experience, and much more!

Facilitator: Ruth Bastedo, SVP, Corporate Development, Gravity Partners Ltd.

3:30 pm

Concurrent Sessions
Corporate Roundtables for Certified Women’s Business Enterprises'

WEConnect International certified businesses will have the opportunity for face-to-face interactions with WEConnect corporate members to pitch their business and learn about opportunities with these corporates buyers.

Panel: Unlocking Opportunities for Your Business


For all non-certified women’s businesses that have completed self-registration.
Moderator: Ruth Vachon, President-Directrice Generale  at Le Réseau des Femmes d'affaires du Québec


  • Sandra Altner, CEO, Women's Enterprise Centre of Manitoba and Chair,  Women’s Enterprise Organizations of Canada
  • Willa Black, VP Corporate Affairs, Cisco Canada
  • Josie Mousseau, Deputy Director Deputy Director, Consultations and Domestic Outreach Division and Canadian Business Women in International Trade, Global Affairs Canada
  • Edith Cecchini, Regional Director of Asia Pacific and Canada, WEConnect International

5:00 pm

Networking Reception

View the Full Agenda and Speaker Biographies Here.  





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Bronze Sponsor

GAC logo

Media Sponsor
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Participating Corporates

pte corporates 11.7.17

Workshop Presenters

Presenting Companies

Sponsorship Opportunities:

WEConnect International in Canada is seeking sponsors who share a passion for growing women’s business and leadership. WEConnect International certified women business owners are savvy business leaders, high-level decision makers, knowledgeable consumers, and are loyal to brands and trusted service providers. The Power the Economy conference provides an exceptional opportunity in Canada to connect, understand and make a favorable impression on this important sector. For more information please contact:

Chelsea Prescod
Country Director
WEConnect International in Canada
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Edith Cecchini
Regional Director for Asia Pacific, Partnerships, and Events
WEConnect International
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