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    Networks to build leadership in trade

     

     
     
    International Trade Forum - Issue 3-4/2008 

    By connecting women around the world, the Organization of Women in International Trade is fostering powerful networks that help them to grow as leaders in business.

    More than ever before, we are witnessing the transformative power of women in business and trade, through our networks and our capacity to share, to collaborate, to learn and to lead. Networking has become a way of life.

    The Organization of Women in International Trade (OWIT) operates at a global level to help women do business locally and internationally. OWIT chapters around the world bring women together to form a powerful network that helps them to grow personally and professionally as leaders in business.

    The organization's values and philosophy embrace the mission statement, "United around the globe to foster international trade and the advancement of women in business". In pursuing these goals, it strives to stay at the forefront of trade developments and to establish alliances with partners.

    In the mid-1980s, a few women in several distant locations formed local groups with similar goals to advance trade opportunities and promote leadership. OWIT was officially established in 1989.

    Today, with 3,000 members and 20 chapters, OWIT is recognized worldwide for building trade relationships in global communities. Its website, www.owit.org, provides a networking forum for its members in international trade, a job bank, a speaker's bureau and many other services. The organization's executives are asked to participate in top-level global meetings such as the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in Peru, and ITC's Expert Round Table on the Gender Dimension of the Enhanced Integrated Framework in Geneva and the World Export Development Forum in Montreux (Switzerland).

    Delivering results

    OWIT helps women to develop direct business opportunities, whether it is consultancies in their professional expertise, import and export business connections, learning from best practices or receiving expert advice from contacts made as a result of links between chapters or attendance at the annual world conference.

    The Nairobi chapter reports that local OWIT workshops have provided skills-building and actual business contracts, as well as much-needed knowledge of global markets. Nairobi is now helping women in Ethiopia set up a chapter there.

    The Toronto chapter spearheaded a successful trade mission for Canadian women to Mexico to coincide with OWIT's international conference in Monterrey this year. Participants developed new business contacts and leads from the high-level business matching meetings and networking events.

    The Mexican chapter reports that membership facilitates the development of global business contacts. Members have been able to access information from the countries with which their members are interested in doing business.

    OWIT's strength is its person-to-person approach. Connections are easy, informal and continuous. The missions are accessible, affordable and easily replicated in all countries. It assembles women who are just starting out, women who have reached a high level of success, and all levels of achievement in between.

    Visitwww.owit.orgfor more information