Canada’s First Women-Only Business Mission to South Korea, 2020

The Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada (APF Canada) is pleased to announce that it will lead, with strong support from the private and public sectors, Canada's first women-only business mission to the Republic of Korea (South Korea) in 2020 (dates TBD). Following the success of the first women-only business mission to Japan in April 2019, APF Canada will continue helping women entrepreneurs in Canada to diversify and expand trade opportunities into other Asian markets.

South Korea is the selected destination.

Gender equality is a priority of South Korean President Moon Jae-In, a self-described 'Feminist President.' The Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement, which entered into force on January 1, 2015, is Canada's first and only bilateral free trade agreement in the Asia Pacific region. As of January 1, 2019, 95% of Canada's exports benefit from duty-free access into South Korea – and this will grow to 99.75% of Canadian exports by 2032. South Korea is Canada's 7th largest merchandise trading partner and our 3rd largest in Asia, after China and Japan. There are 61 cities and 498 million consumers located within 2,000 km from South Korea, making it a key gateway to the Asia Pacific region with strategic access to regional and global value chains. Given these dynamics, South Korea presents excellent growth opportunities for women entrepreneurs in Canada.

The three-day mission will be hosted in venues of partner organizations in Seoul and possibly one other location outside of Seoul. Events will include business-to-business matching and networking opportunities, industry site visits, and bilateral discussions of women's economic advancement strategies featuring high-level business and thought leaders from Canada and South Korea.

FOCUS: 'Caring Societies'
The mission theme focuses on promoting women entrepreneurs in STEM sectors, which provide services, products, and solutions for the care economy supporting the care and lifestyles of children, people with disabilities, and the elderly. Bilateral opportunities in care can be broadly defined to include, but are not limited to, innovations in health care, education, leisure, and other personal care products and services that promote healthy living solutions such as food, cosmetics, and entertainment – all of which contribute to nurturing and supporting present and future populations.

The key objectives of the mission are:

  1. To mutually showcase innovations in South Korean and Canadian care technologies, such as information and communications technologies (ICT), robotics, artificial intelligence (A.I.), biotechnology, supply chain solutions, and other products for homecare and improving the quality of life for caregivers and care recipients.
  2. To provide bilateral networking opportunities for Canadian women in business with counterparts in South Korea.
  3. To provide an opportunity to share insights and best practices on addressing the growing needs of advanced economies facing demographic challenges through tech innovations, market solutions, and public policy.

With one of the lowest birth rates in the world, a rapidly aging population, and a society that values higher education, South Korea has and continues to make investments in the care economy a national priority, presenting Canadian women-owned and women-led SMEs (small and medium enterprises) involved in this sector with tremendous growth opportunities.

This exciting mission offers opportunities to 20 women entrepreneurs (owners, founders, CEOs, or those leading Canadian SMEs) looking to grow their businesses in South Korea. Companies in science, technology, engineering, and other sectors that are traditionally under-represented by women will be prioritized for the mission.

Delegate selection is currently closed. Financial support to participate in the mission will be made available to successful candidates.

Businesses must be export-ready and have demonstrated potential to succeed in Asian markets. Companies will have:

  • A woman* founder, owner, CEO, or executive leader;
  • A commercialized product or service or one close to being commercialized;
  • Conducted research on foreign markets and opportunities, especially preparatory work concerning the destination market;
  • Allocated resources (human, material, time and financial) towards internationalization; and,
  • A defined business model and financial forecasts (1-2 years) for discussions with potential third-party investors.

*Inclusive of all who identify as women.

Priority will be given to entrepreneurs who:

  • Have generated revenues (sales, capital investment, etc.) exceeding C$100,000 for the past three years;
  • Have made efforts to localize their product or service for an international market (not necessarily in Asia);
  • Have developed proprietary technology with the potential for long-term competitiveness; and,
  • Are defining their primary product/market fit and establishing reasonable pricing models with a sales strategy/pipeline.

For inquiries, please contact:

A.W. Lee, PhD
Program Manager
Diversity and Inclusive Growth Strategy for
Women Entrepreneurs in the Asia Pacific
Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada, Toronto
205-375 University Ave.
Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5G 2J5
T: 416-597-8040 ext. 205
F: 416-597-1162

Supported by:

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