Organization of Women in International Trade

The Organization of Women in International Trade is a worldwide nonprofit organization that focuses on helping women develop and execute global trade opportunities. Its membership comprises women and men sharing knowledge, mentoring peers and youth, connecting with counterparts in other countries, and exchanging business contacts and referrals. OWIT’s strength is the global expertise of its chapter members, who are committed to planning and executing business opportunities involving international trade and business.

Values and Mission

Values and Mission OWIT’s values and philosophy embrace its mission statement: “United around the globe to foster international trade and the advancement of women in business.” This growing network provides a collective forum to support education, to facilitate information exchange, and to promote networking. In pursuing these goals, OWIT strives to provide a rewarding volunteer environment, to stay at the forefront of trade and technological developments, and to work in cooperation with peers and alliances.


History OWIT began in the mid-1980s, when groups of women in several locations across the U.S. formed local groups with similar goals to advance career and trade opportunities. At the time, international trade saw few women in upper management positions, presenting a growing need for women in trade to be able to connect to one another. Most of the organization’s founding chapters developed independently, with minimal knowledge of each other. As awareness grew, a vision formed of an expanded international trade network. OWIT was officially established in 1989, when the organization held what would become its inaugural board meeting in Los Angeles. The following year, OWIT organized its first national conference in Washington, DC, and published its first membership directory. The organization had 12 chapters at the time. Today OWIT has 25 chapters, with 3,000 members in eight countries. It is recognized worldwide for building ongoing trade relationships within and between global communities.    


Chapters OWIT chapters are located in North America, South America, Western Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. Local chapters host networking meetings, educational seminars, and special events; offer scholarships; and support charitable organizations. These ongoing initiatives provide members with a broad range of experiences and information. In addition, OWIT hosts a webinar series on topics related to international trade and business. In keeping with its mission, OWIT annually recognizes a Woman of the Year as an accomplished businesswoman who helps others aspire to careers in international trade.  

OWIT 2014 Partnerships

OWIT 2014 Partnerships – Benefits to OWIT Members

OWIT International has established strategic alliances with the following women's organizations. Among the many benefits, participating in these groups can serve to showcase your expertise to a wider network and serve as a means of new business development for you. Take advantage of the opportunities!


1.  OWIT Partner – WEConnect International


What is WEConnect International?


OWIT has a strategic alliance with WEConnect International. A corporate-led non-profit, WEConnect International helps build sustainable communities by empowering women business owners to succeed in local and global markets. Since 2009, it has provided business education, certification, and business connections to companies based outside the United States that are at least 51% owned, managed and controlled by one or more women. Once certified, these companies have access to WEConnect International corporate members that represent US$700 billion in annual purchasing power and are true pioneers in inclusive sourcing and global supplier development.


Currently, WEConnect International is supporting women business owners in over 70 countries, with local operations in these countries:

  • Australia
  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • Chile
  • China
  • Costa Rica
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Jamaica
  • Mexico
  • Nigeria
  • Peru
  • South Africa
  • Turkey
  • United Kingdom


Benefits for OWIT Members


OWIT members who are women business owners owning at least 51% of their business can apply for certification in the countries above where WEConnect International has local operations. Certification benefits include:

  • Company details listed in the WEConnect International global database that corporate members use to find new suppliers.
  • Opportunities to meet with procurement officers from member corporations.
  • Training workshops on how to leverage certification.
  • Coaching and mentoring from other certified companies on key success factors and strategies.
  • Publicity and visibility through WEConnect International global network.
  • Invitation to online forums presented by corporate members, with overviews of their procurement process and practical tips on responding to Requests for Proposals (RFPs).
  • Opportunities to register for national and global events



Women business owners in other countries can self-register for free to join the WEConnect International eNetwork.Self-registration allows them to create a business profile in WEConnect International’s eNetwork which is accessed by its corporate members, certified women’s business enterprise (WBEs) and other self-registered businesses globally. Women business owners in the U.S. can join the global network if they are already registered with the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC). The benefits of self-registration include:

  • Access to the secure eNetwork,a community of women owned businesses regionally
  • Access to the WEConnect Academy training modules to prepare for business with multi-national companies
  • Networking opportunities with Certified Women’s Business Enterprises (WBEs) that are suppliers to major corporations
  • Invitations to select events and trainings around preparing your business for certification, responding to commercial opportunities, and marketing your business to large procurement organizations.


For more information:  Contact Save the date – May 16, 2014 – for an OWIT webinar that will feature the founder and CEO of WEConnect International, Elizabeth Vazquez,  along with certified Women’s Business Enterprises who will provide  insights on WEConnect International and on the benefits of certification….and will answer your questions.

2.  OWIT Partner – TIAW


What is TIAW?


OWIT is a member of TIAW – The International Alliance for Women. TIAW advances the economic power of women through its network of member organizations and World of Difference award-winners from around the globe including Africa, the Americas, AustralAsia, Europe, the Middle East and Oceania. It engages with programs, events and webinars that present each member the opportunity to broaden personal networks and deepen leadership capacity.


Benefits for OWIT Members


As part of OWIT’s membership, up to 999 of our members can get access to the members only section of the TIAW site where you can set up your business profile and access the member directory. 

Here are the other benefits you get: 

  • Join a committee. Check out the committees here. 
  • Attend the annual TIAW Global Forum scheduled for March 26-28, 2014 in Washington, DC. It will bring together global women, leaders and change agents in business, finance, entrepreneurship, social innovation and public policy. 
  • Nominate someone for a World of Difference award.  Each year, the TIAW World of Difference 100 Award recognizes women - and men - who have advanced the economic empowerment of women, whether on a small scale in the developing world, or effecting change in the boardrooms of the business capitals of the world.
  • Participate in educational webinars
  • Add the TIAW member logo to your email signature
  • Connect with the Global Ambassador in your region and find the resources you are seeking
  • Become a certified Global Board-Ready Woman (GBRW) through the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council or through WEConnect International
  • Free lifetime membership in AESC’s BlueSteps for women qualified by GBRW
  • One year free subscription to Dialogue
  • One year free subscription to Enterprising Women’s international e-zine
  • Opportunity to participate in TIAW-only trips abroad with Cross-Cultural Solutions
  • Free access to select webinars and TED-style talks with Global Women Leaders Summit
  • Opportunity to apply to Cherie Blair Foundation as  a mentor to emerging entrepreneurs


To register for TIAW membership and receive the benefits listed above, visit and simply create a username for your business profile and enter your first name and last name. Once you are registered, you can enjoy all of the member-only areas of the TIAW site.


A reminder that this is available to a maximum of 999 OWIT members, so be sure to act now!

3.  OWIT Partner – Global Summit of Women


What is the Global Summit of Women?


·         An annual global gathering of 1,000+ women leaders (government leaders, CEOs, business executives, entrepreneurs and NGO leaders) from 5 continents

·         The “Davos World Economic Forum” for Women  

·         Overall objective: to advance women’s economic lives and to ensure global prosperity.

·         In its 24th year, the 2014 Summit will take place in Paris, France, from June 5-7,  2014 at the Marriott Rive Gauche Hotel and Conference Center

·         The 2014 Summit topic is Women: Redesigning economies, societies (full brochure)

·         Over 80 presenters (speakers & honoured guests)


Why Participate?


·         Learn about global and European megatrends that impact economies around the world

·         Get information on doing business with France and the European Union

·         Discover practical strategies for business growth

·         Participate in skills-building sessions on leadership development, entrepreneurship, technology and issues (full programme)

·         Meet and network with women leaders from 5 continents, including OWIT sisters from other chapters (the Geneva, Toronto and hopefully other chapters are planning to send delegations)

·         Contribute to designing practical strategies and best practices to accelerate women’s economic progress worldwide

·         A good excuse to visit Paris – the City of Light, art, fashion – in late spring!


How Much will it Cost?


·         Travel to/from Paris

·         Conference fee: US$ / € 600[1] if we register as OWIT members (also for non-profits, government representatives and small businesses), US$ / € 900 for corporate representatives

Ø  if there are more than 20 of us OWIT sisters, we should be able to negotiate a discount of 5-20%

Ø  OWIT chapters might also consider to sponsor member participation with a small subsidy

·         Accommodation for the duration of your stay (Conference hotel rate is min. €208/night for a double room, but it should be possible to book a decent room for less than €100/night)

·         Meals outside the Summit programme (June 5 evening – June 7 evening) and personal expenses


Contact:   If you have questions about the OWIT delegation to the Global Summit and/or if you are planning to attend, please contact Violette Ruppanner, OWIT Co-VP, Partnerships at


[1] Fee amounts are in euros for participants based in the European Union and Switzerland and in US$ for participants from the rest of the world

4.  OWIT Partner – African Women Entrepreneurship Program (AWEP)


What is AWEP?


AWEP is composed of women entrepreneurs across Africa who have participated in an exchange and/or study program in the United States. Alumnae of these programs have organized chapters in their respective countries that operate as independent NGOs to develop women entrepreneurship and to support their interest in doing business internationally. AWEP Chapters have been established in fifteen countries (as of 12/2013). The Pan-Africa AWEP Secretariat, based in Lusaka (Zambia, has been organized to serve as a coordinator and facilitator at the regional level for the AWEP chapters.


The partnership between OWIT International and the Pan-Africa AWEP Secretariat, established in December, 2013, aims to raise the profile of OWIT International in Africa and to leverage the capabilities of OWIT and the AWEP chapters for the benefit of women business owners across Africa. As such, this partnership provides unique opportunities to support business development by OWIT Members interested in connecting with and/or providing services to women entrepreneurs in Africa


Opportunities for OWIT Members


AWEP members are primarily interested in:

·         Opportunities for business and for partnerships

·         Support with regulations on importing goods into the United States and Europe

·         Support for assessing and preparing products for entry into international markets


Interested OWIT members have the opportunity to:

·         Utilize the AWEP network to identify opportunities for business and partnerships in Africa

·         Collaborate with OWIT and AWEP chapters to address the specific needs of their members (see above)

·         Provide direct support to AWEP chapters and members to address their specific needs

·         Participate in OWIT webinars focused on trade-related issues of relevance to AWEP members

·         Become a resource for AWEP program participants in the United States


Contact:   Please contact Andrea Ewart, OWIT Executive VP, at if you would like more information on these opportunities.

WIIT members are automatically part of the OWIT network and are eligible for:

  • The member rate at all OWIT chapter events
  • The member rate for OWIT webinars
  • Free membership in the International Alliance for Women (TIAW),  an online community
  • Access to and participation in the OWIT Job Bank and other resources