Media Release: WBE Canada Celebrates 10th Anniversary at 2019 Annual Conference

November 20, 2019 | For Immediate Release

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.   

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. 

Packed room at WBE Canada’s 2019 Annual Conference & Gala event.

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. 

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

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. 

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

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. 

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)

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.

2019 Procurement Champions. Left to right: Maddy Baker (TELUS), Andy Thompson (Nokia), Kiruba Sankar (RBC), Michael Bourne (IBM Canada), Dora Silva (Accenture), Catherine Grosz (BMO), Silvia Pencak (WBE Canada)

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. You can learn about 2019 Award Nominees here and meet 2019 Award Winners here.

Attendee Feedback

What 2019 Annual Conference attendees shared with us…

  • It was great to see what other WBEs do and it was easier to network when trade show booths better defined what we each offer.
  • Fantastic meetings with potential buyers and more in-depth conversations through matchmaking.
  • It was great to find new WBEs and deepen our understanding of WBEs goods and services. The awards ceremony/gala was inspiring!
  • The venue and staff were wonderful. I really enjoyed being around other women and learning from them. The breakout sessions were informative.
  • The attendees were all eager to do business and make connections, either directly or by referral to others. It was very positive and energetic atmosphere.
  • The speakers were very interesting.
  • Well done! WBE Trade Show was excellent. Corporate reps were very approachable. The level of WBEs was very accomplished, atmosphere was very upbeat, well organized event. Way to go TEAM! I really appreciated having the opportunity to be there to help celebrate your 10th anniversary!
  • Conference was one of the best attended. Keep up the great work!

Thank you to all of our sponsors, partners and volunteers for their generous support of WBE Canada’s 10th Anniversary Conference, Awards Gala, Trade Show and Matchmaker and for continuing to advance Canadian women-owned businesses. 

2019 WBE Canada Conference Sponsors

About WBE Canada

WBE Canada (Women Business Enterprises Canada Council) is a Canadian nonprofit organization founded by corporations committed to supporting Canadian women-owned businesses through their supply chains. WBE Canada works closely with corporations and government organizations looking to include women in their supply chains, providing WBE (Women Business Enterprise) certification services to confirm that businesses are majority owned, managed and controlled by women, organizing events to connect buyers with suppliers and providing training and mentorship opportunities for Certified WBE community. Learn more about WBE Canada here.