In mid-July, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shuffled his cabinet ahead of the 2019 federal election, with mandates that reflected pressing challenges like strained trade relations with the US.
Five new Ministers were added in the cabinet shuffle, among them new Minister of Small Business and Export Promotion Mary Ng. Taking over the portfolio from Bardish Chagger, former Minister of Small Business and Tourism, Ng’s role reflects the government’s new focus on helping Canadian companies export to global markets.
In his mandate letter to the Minister, Trudeau provided background on choosing Ng for the role: she was on the team developing Canada’s intellectual property strategy, and advocated for Markham’s VentureLab to be included in Ontario’s manufacturing supercluster. Speaking with BetaKit, Ng said that the government wanted to modernize the work of the Trade Commissioner Service, which is already operating in 150 countries.
“They’re the ones who are on the ground, who can help our SMEs understand, do a market analysis, they understand where the customers might be, the customers that might be in a certain country, and who the co-investors could be in a country,” Ng said of the government’s renewed focus on exports. “This is a real resource for our Canadian SMEs.”
While Innovation, Science and Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains is often the government face within the tech community, Ng suggested that their roles are complementary. “SMEs are companies whether they are restaurants and flower shops and retailers, but…I’ve done work with startup companies and Canada is a country of innovators,” said Ng. “So SMEs are all-encompassing; it will include the restaurants and the flower shops, but it will also be a whole lot of our innovators, and I work closely with Minister Bains. It’s going to be a great work to be doing together.”
Ng is also overseeing part of the women’s entrepreneurship strategy, an overall $2 billion commitment from the government to increase the number of women entrepreneurs and support women entrepreneurs in the country. While that mandate includes provisions like VCCI funding contigent on firms’ commitment to diversity and more investment capital to women-owned businesses, Ng is specifically overseeing the export aspects of that strategy.
In budget 2018, the government earmarked $250 million over three years to Export Development Canada for financing and insurance solutions to women-owned and women-led businesses that are exporting. In that budget, $10 million was earmarked specifically for women entrepreneurs to access export services.
In late September, Ng announced the launch of the $85 million WES Ecosystem Fund, which is meant to help women entrepreneurs address challenges in exporting. While information on how the program will work is still scarce, the funding is allocated in a national/multi-regional stream ($15 million) and a regional stream ($70 million).
“I want to make sure by the time I’m done, that I am promoting the services and supports that are available to our Canadian businesses so they can access those markets utilizing a service like the trade commissioner service,” said Ng.
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This Article first appeared in beta kkit