The Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada is pleased to announce that Christine Nakamura, APF Canada Vice-President, Toronto Office, is this year’s recipient of the JoAnna Townsend Excellence Award for Leadership in International Trade. The award was presented at the Organization of Women in International Trade (OWIT) – Toronto 16th Annual Awards Gala, held virtually on November 25, 2020.
The award recognizes an outstanding woman in Ontario who, through her business and personal networks, creates opportunities to actively support Canadian women-owned businesses in expanding globally and succeeding in the international marketplace, OWIT said in a press release. Before joining APF Canada in 2011, Ms. Nakamura was employed in various capacities by the Government of Canada, including in the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development, and served overseas in Japan and Korea. At the Foundation, she facilitates trade, political, academic, and cultural engagements with Asia.
In April 2019, Ms. Nakamura spearheaded Canada’s first women-only business mission to Japan. This APF Canada pilot mission's success – with 34 delegates, 17 entrepreneurs, and eight signed deals – prompted the Foundation to extend the model to other Asian markets over the next five years, an effort supported by the Government of Canada. A women-only business mission to South Korea was held virtually on November 3-4, 2020, and in March 2021, a third mission will be launched (virtually) to Taiwan.
These missions' ultimate goal is to provide a bridge to key markets in Asia for Canadian women-led or founded companies. They also support the Government of Canada's dual efforts to promote international trade diversification and advance women's economic empowerment by encouraging Canadian women in business to consider expansion into Asia's burgeoning markets.
“I am deeply humbled and honoured to receive this prestigious award,” said Nakamura. “I must say that the trade mission series dedicated to women-owned and women-led businesses that led me to receive the award could not have been launched without the hard work of my project team, and the support and encouragement of our sponsors, many individuals, and members of our Foundation board and Asia Business Leaders Advisory Council.”
“This is a well-deserved honour and a credit to Christine and her work for the Foundation,” said Stewart Beck, President and CEO of APF Canada. “Christine has been a tireless champion of enhanced Canadian engagement with Asia at every level, from her longstanding work on exchange programs for young Canadians and network building with Canadian business leaders, to her successful spearheading of Canada’s first women-only business missions to the important economies of Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan. The board and I applaud Christine for this important recognition from the Organization of Women in International Trade.”
In partnership with the Government of Canada, OWIT-Toronto launched the JoAnna Townsend Excellence Award for Leadership in International Trade several years ago in memory of JoAnna Townsend. Townsend was a trailblazing champion of women exporters who died in 2004 after a courageous battle with cancer. OWIT is an international non-profit professional organization with chapters worldwide dedicated to advancing global trade opportunities for women. There are two active Canadian chapters: Toronto and Ottawa.
The 16th Annual Export Awards Program was sponsored by the Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub, EDC, BMO, UPS Canada, Jewels4Ever and the City of Toronto. You can view the video recording of the event here.