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Women’s Day With WBE Canada

March 2, 2022 @ 12:00 pm - 5:00 pm EST

Women entrepreneurs have surpassed pandemic fatigue and are finding creative ways to expand and grow their operations despite continued restrictions and delays in global logistic chains. Disruptions in distribution have impacted not only large corporations but also Women Business Enterprises, challenging the status quo, operations, delivery and customer support.

What does this mean for #TheFutureOfGlobalization? Are protectionist agendas of some countries destroying existing export strategies? How can WBEs adjust to these disruptions and take advantage of new opportunities? What about women-owned businesses looking to break into global markets? What is Canada doing right and what can we do better?

You’ll have the answers on March 02, 2022, as we bring together highly influential speakers weighing in on the trends in Canadian economic growth and insights on what to expect in supplier diversity on a global scale.

Who Should Attend?

  • Women Business Enterprises – certified and non-certified
  • Corporations and government organizations – members and non-members
  • Women organizations and councils
  • Champions and supporters of women-owned businesses

Why Attend?

  • Discover the latest updates from highly influential professionals and officials in Canada
  • Find out the latest insights from supply chains across industries
  • Get actionable strategies and achieve success


  • 12:00 – 1:00 pm ET – Networking
    • Meet other attendees, build up your network
  • 1:00 – 2:00 pm ET – Session 1: The Future of Globalization
    • Honourable Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade of Ontario
    • Sabine Soumare, Executive Director, WEKH
    • Dawn Desjardins, Vice President, Deputy Chief Economist, RBC
    • Kathy Cheng, President, Redwood Classics Apparel
  • 2:00 – 2:45 pm ET – Breakout Sessions
    • Learning sessions focused on current business topics like managing cashflow, tackling disruptions in supply chains and others
    • Christian Sivière, President, Solimpex
    • Laura-Lee Brenneman, Director, Growth & Transition Capital, BDC
    • Pierre Cléroux, Vice President, Research and Chief Economist, BDC
    • Arlene Bakmazian, Relationship Manager, BMO Financial Group
  • 2:45 – 3:00 pm ET – Break
  • 3:00 – 3:55 pm ET – Session 2: The Future of Women Business Enterprises
    • Silvia Pencak, President & CEO, WBE Canada
    • Catherine Grosz, Corporate Membership Manager, WBE Canada
    • Shawna Pereira, Co-Founder & Creative Director, Wonderkind Inc.
    • Celso Afonseca, Manager, Account Services & Program Operations / Supplier Diversity Business Partner, Staples Promotional Products
    • Kate Penton, Manager, Supplier Management, Rogers Communications
  • 3:55 – 4:20 pm ET – Keynote
    • Connie Stacey, President, Growing Greener Innovations
  • 4:20 – 4:30 pm ET – Closing Remarks
    • Silvia Pencak, President & CEO, WBE Canada
  • 4:30 – 5:00 pm ET – Networking

More information to be announced




Meet the Speakers


Arlene Bakmazian

Throughout her career, Arlene has excelled in various positions within the financial industry. Currently, she is a Relationship Manager at the Bank of Montreal who focuses on supporting woman entrepreneurs, small to medium enterprises, and business owners who dream to start making an impact in local communities. Graduating from McMaster University with a Bachelor of Commerce, she spent time as an analyst for organizations of various sizes assessing their financial, industrial and financial risks. Arlene enjoys building supportive environments and supporting local. She volunteers her time as an active board member within numerous organizations in her community.


Celso AfonsecaCelso Afonseca

As Manager, Account Services & Program Operations / Supplier Diversity Business Partner at Staples Promotional Products, Celso is a leader for diverse suppliers who are just starting out or currently working with Staples Promotional Products as innovative and trusted suppliers.





Catherine GroszCatherine Grosz

After a long career with BMO, supporting the growth of their Enterprise Supplier Diversity program since 2007 and a champion for Supplier Diversity growth in Canada, Catherine has taken a role with WBE Canada that allows her to continue her journey within Canada to help scale and grow Supplier Diversity. As Manager, Corporate Membership with WBE Canada. Catherine’s goal is to support corporations and government organizations with their Supplier Diversity journey within Canada and identify opportunities, tools and resources to enable them to become successful and sustainable within their programs, making room for Canadian Women businesses to scale and grow their businesses toward a more vibrant Canadian market.


Christian Sivière

Following a 30-year career in international logistics, Christian started an import-export consultancy in 2010, Solimpex, helping SMEs grow internationally and providing training on the Logistics, Customs and Regulatory aspects of International Trade, Free Trade Agreements and Supply Chain Management. Christian lectures for the Canadian International Freight Forwarders Association, gives conferences for trade organizations like the Montreal Chamber of Commerce, Invest Ottawa, Supply Chain Canada and similar, and personalized training for importers and exporters. He contributes to Inside Logistics and Supply Professional.


Connie Stacey

Connie Stacey is the founder and president of Growing Greener Innovations, Inc. (GGI). Connie holds a BA from the University of Alberta as well as a diploma in Computer programming, and brings 20 years of experience from the IT sector to her work at GGI. She founded GGI in 2014 with a desire to create a better generator–silent, no fumes, no carbon emissions. Upon developing the patented GRENGINE™ solar battery generator, she expanded her patented design into the battery energy storage sector.


Dawn Desjardins

Dawn Desjardins joined the RBC Economics team in January 2006. She is a key contributor to the macroeconomic forecasts for Canada and the U.S. and is part of a team that is responsible for the interest rate forecasts for both countries. Dawn delivers economic analysis to RBC’s clients through a variety of publications and presentations. She is often interviewed by media from across North America to discuss developments in the economy and financial markets.



Kate Penton

Kate joined Rogers in 2018 and has over 10 years of Telecommunication and Media Operations experience having held previous roles with Astral and Bell Media. During her time at Rogers, Kate has held progressive roles with responsibilities ranging from supplier management, contract governance, training & communications, process and policy development, third party risk management, ethical procurement practices, supplier diversity, and mergers and acquisitions change management strategy. Currently, Kate is responsible for leading Procurement policy and process development and managing the Supplier Diversity, Ethical Procurement and Environmental & Social Governance programs for Procurement.


Kathy Cheng

Kathy Cheng is President of WS & Co., one of Canada’s leading full-service apparel manufacturers, and the Founder of Redwood Classics Apparel, its in-stock apparel line which provides promotional and retail distributors with garments handcrafted in North America. She also lends her time and expertise to a number of not-for-profit organizations and spearheads charitable causes in her community and across a variety of industries. Kathy is steadfastly committed to diversity and inclusion and in 2021 became a member of the PPAI DEI Task Force helping to educate others in the promotional products industry about the importance of diversity and uplifting marginalized voices.


Laura-Lee Brenneman

Laura-Lee Brenneman is Director, Growth & Transition Capital, BDC Capital in our Ottawa West office. Laura-Lee has 10 years of experience providing valuation advice to both private and public companies, including the valuation of intangible assets, complex capital structures and early stage technology companies. Throughout her career, she has helped Canadian entrepreneurs achieve their goals and has helped private companies access more than $100 million in government grants and incentives. Laura-Lee’s financial experience and her passion for helping entrepreneurs make her a tremendous ally for Canadian businesses looking for financing solutions to grow.


Pierre Cléroux

Pierre leads a team of experts who analyze economic data to identify business and sector trends impacting Canadian entrepreneurs. He is also responsible for providing economic analysis and advice to the Bank’s senior management team and supervises all marketing and industry research activities. Over his 25-year career as an economist, he has held several influential positions that had a direct impact on entrepreneurs in Canada and abroad including his seat as Quebec Assistant Deputy Minister for Economic Development, Innovation and Export Trade.


Sabine Soumare

Sabine Soumare is the Executive Director, Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub (WEKH) at the Diversity Institute of Ryerson University. She has over ten years of experience in government and the non-profit sector. Prior to joining Diversity Institute she started her consulting firm dBrief Consulting, where she provided strategic advice to decision-makers and not-for-profit leadership on how best to connect and engage with diverse communities. She also advises organizations on strategic communications and marketing, events management, and connections with the provincial and federal governments. She worked as Senior Communications and Stakeholder Relations Advisor to Ontario’s Attorney General and Minister of Francophone Affairs between 2015 and 2018. She also advised the Premier’s Office on outreach opportunities, as well as stakeholder and media relations. Sabine holds a master’s degree in marketing from the École Supérieure de Gestion in Paris, as well as a bachelor in communications and a certificate in strategic management.


Shawna Pereira

Shawna is the Co-Founder and Creative Director of Wonderkind Inc. She graduated from Ryerson Image Art – Photography and has over 10 years of experience in the printing industry with Canadian printer Friesens Corp. Shawna is also the first female to win Friesens National Sales Award. In 2019 she co-founded Wonderkind, a Canadian gifting service that highlights “Canadian Made” products, supporting female entrepreneurs. Wonderkind works with over 130 female founded businesses across Canada. Shawna is highly involved in community and fundraising efforts in several Toronto communities including Cabbagetown, Regent Park and St. Jamestown.


Silvia Pencak HeadshotSilvia Pencak

Silvia Pencak is the President of Women Business Enterprises Canada Council (WBE Canada), a Canadian non-profit organization that is opening doors for Canadian women-owned businesses to corporate and government supply chains. Silvia has more than 20 years of leadership experience in the nonprofit and business environment, leading transformational projects and teams. Her diverse international background spearheading successful initiatives gives her a wealth of experience to lead supplier diversity to its next level to ensure continued growth and success of Canadian Women Business Enterprises. She is a member of the Advisory Committee to the PSPC Minister and advisor to other leaders across Canada and various industries, tirelessly advocating more opportunities and better support for Canadian women-owned businesses in Canada and globally.


Honourable Vic Fedeli

The Honourable Victor Fedeli is a lifelong entrepreneur, successful business person, and philanthropist, and serves the Ford government as Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade. His business experience led his firm Fedeli Corporation to be ranked 34th in the Top 50 Best Places to Work in Canada in 1989. It also served him well, when he was elected to two terms as Mayor of North Bay from 2003 to 2010. As Mayor, Vic focused on fiscal prudence and economic development, restoring hope and restoring solvency to North Bay. In 2011 Vic was elected to the Ontario Legislature, and is now serving his third term as MPP for Nipissing. In 2018 the PC Caucus unanimously elected him to serve as Interim Leader of the Official Opposition. Vic served ten terms on the Board of the North Bay and District Chamber of Commerce, served as Director with Global Vision, and has served on many agencies, boards, and commissions, often as Chair.



WBE Canada
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