Special Projects


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Are you a Canadian businesswoman interested in sharing your skills and experience by mentoring a rising/leading female social entrepreneur in Africa or the Middle East? 

CAABWA invites you to participate in its first Leadership Exchange Mission to engage with female African and Middle Eastern social entrepreneurs who are making significant social and economic impact in their communities.

From September 18th to 23rd 2016, the CAABWA-sponsored Leadership ExchangeMission is being led in partnership with the inaugural trade+impact Summit & Trade Expo which is being held in Morocco.



What it is: Paying it Forward

This is a program for Canadian women business leaders and entrepreneurs to support up-and-coming women entrepreneurs in Africa & the Middle East with their social enterprises.

This program matches Canadian expertise to challenges being faced by women-led social enterprises in Africa & the Middle East by providing a platform for women leaders to come
together and share their knowledge and experience and to develop a mutually rich and rewarding mentoring relationship.

Why it’s important

As any woman entrepreneur can tell you, starting your own business can be challenging. Sadly, this is especially true in Africa & the Middle East where, even with a winning idea and the right skills and experience, women face a number of additional significant barriers to starting their own successful business. 

By linking women leaders and experts to tackle real-life challenges and issues together, we hope
to change this. This program seeks to level the playing field and provide women entrepreneurs in Africa & the Middle East with the tools, insight and networks from Canadian mentors necessary to propel their businesses to reach their full potential. 

Who we’re looking for

Specifically, we are looking for Canadian businesswomen with expertise in at least one of thefollowing areas:

  • Consumer Marketing, Branding and Communications
  • Social and Digital Media for SMEs
  • Consumer Packaging and Design
  • Product Development and Design (Craft/Textile)
  • Product Development and Design (Agribusiness for Cosmetics)
  • Understanding the cosmetics and/or home décor supply chains
  • Operations, quality assurance, process efficiency
  • Market Access and Export Development
  • How SMEs and entrepreneurs can get investor-ready
  • Monitoring, Measuring, and Improving social impact of their business, and telling the social impact story

As the Canadian women leaders will be playing a mentoring role to their African counterparts, we are looking for women with 10+ years experience in these areas, including significant intermediate/senior management experience.

NB. If your expertise doesn’t quite fit what we’re looking for but you’re still interested in participating, please send us an email!  There may be other ways for you to participate in this program depending on your area of expertise and interests.

What Canadian Mentors will get out of this mission

  • A customized matchmaking service to ensure the best possible fit between you and your Mentee.
  • Connection with your African/Middle Eastern counterpart pre-trip via email / Skype and opportunities to share information and build the relationship before the mission.
  • Pre-departure preparation and assistance as necessary
  • Minimum of 6 hours of face-to-face mentoring sessions, with the flexibility to spend more time with your Mentee if needed.
  • Full participation in the 3-day Summit (covering Leadership, Technology and Trade) as well as attendance at theTrade Show
  • Full-day tour of the city of Fes, including visiting women-led social enterprises, and tour of Ifrane and surrounding areas.
  • Opportunity to significantly expand your network in Africa & the Middle East
  • Invitation to speak at a post-mission reunion in Canada to share your experiences, provide feedback and to help shape future leadership missions.
  • Opportunity to be profiled on CAABWA’s website
  • Automatic qualification as a member of CAABWA

Dates and Agenda Overview*



Friday, Sept 16

Flight from Canada to Casablanca

Saturday, Sept 17

Arrive in Casablanca, transfer to Ifrane (4-hour drive)

Sunday, Sept 18

Afternoon: Kick off “meet and greet” of Mentors and Mentees, followed by networking dinner.

Monday, Sept 19

Attend opening day of trade+impact Summit & Trade Expo with your Mentee (Keynote speakers, lunch, and Trade expo opening & preview)

Tuesday, Sept 20

Full-day tour of Fes. Mentors will be taken on a tour of the city of Fes, and visit craft/social enterprises. Day will conclude with a VIP dinner in Fes.

Wednesday,   Sept 21

Attend morning and early afternoon panel discussions at trade+impact with Mentee.  Afternoon Mentor/Mentee one-on-one session to discuss challenges and the issues raised during the various panel discussions.

Thursday, Sept 22

Trade Expo – Mentors are free to walk the show and spend time with their Mentee at their booth to provide additional mentorship support. Official Closing Dinner.

Friday, Sept 23

Morning tour of Ifrane and surrounding areas.

Noontime mentorship wrap-up and next steps. Mentors and Mentees will be guided through a discussion on next steps to help ensure long-term mentorship partnership continues.

Early afternoon – transfer to Casablanca (4-hour drive).

Saturday, Sept 24

Morning return flight to Canada.***

***Note: If you would like to extend your mission dates, we are happy to work with you to try to accommodate your schedule. Additionally, there are tourism packages of varying lengths being developed which can be added to the itinerary for additional cost. Please advise if you’d like more information on the various tourism packages.


Canadian participants who register by July 29th 2016 will receive the early bird rate of
$2,400 CAD*. This price includes:

  • Pre-departure mentorship planning in collaboration with CAABWA
  • Transfer from airport to Ifrane (4-hour drive) and all transportation to/from the hotel and conference venue 
  • Meals: 4 lunches, 3 dinners
  • Full access to trade + impact expo and summit
  • Full-day tour of Fes 
  • Tour of Ifrane and surrounding region
  • Attendance at post-mission networking event in Toronto

*Note: price does not include airfare to Morocco or accommodation. We have negotiated discounted pricing for your hotel stay and would be happy to assist you with hotel booking. 

Deadline & Contact

If you are interested in participating, please click here to register.

For any additional inquiries, please contact us at caabwa@tradeandimpact.com 




Past Projects

New Course launched with the University of Toronto

CAABWA has been contracted by the University of Toronto (U of T) to develop and teach a new first year International Development Studies course that provides students the opportunities to experience first the realities, challenges and opportunities of learning with development organizations working in Africa.

The course “ IDSA02H3/AFSA03H3: Experiencing Development in Africa” was launched at the U of T Scarborough Campus  on January 13, 2012 and runs for  twelve weeks with a maximum enrollment of 25 students who plan to major in International Development Studies and who wish to gain better knowledge of the reality of working with partners in capacity building in a developing country setting.  The course curriculum was developed on behalf of CAABWA by Beverley Rodrigues and Deborah Turnbull who also lead in the course coordination and delivery.  The U of T supervisors are Leslie Chan ( IDS, Social Sciences) and Dr. Stephen Rockel (African Studies, Humanities).

This experiential learning course consists of lectures by CAABWA and Guest Speakers; in-class experiential workshops; field trips and academic research. The course culminates with a conference on “Women and development in Africa.”  

Ontario Trillium Grant

CAABWA received a development grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation to support its research and activities for program and partnership development especially in York Region.  The grant will enable CAABWA to  support the economic empowerment  of immigrant women in business by providing appropriate business training , mentorship and facilitating trade.


Trillium / Echoes of Africa



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CAABWA received funding from the Ontario Trillium Foundation in April 2008 for a two year project. The objective is to provide training to 200 low income and immigrant women in the Halton-Peel and Simcoe-York regions.  Many women in these communities are highly skilled and motivated to work,  but face barriers to entry in the traditional job market. The purpose of the CAABWA training program is to help low-income and immigrant women explore the possibility of starting their own business as a means for achieving greater economic independence and gaining "Canadian experience".

As a complementary activity, CAABWA is currently organizing an African arts and culture festival on Saturday, August 29, 2009 in Newmarket. Volunteer participants can further develop their organizational, communication and marketing skills by helping to organize the festival. They will also have an opportunity to launch their business idea and showcase their products or
services to the public at this event. Another key objective of the festival is to promote cultural literacy, by exposing the ttendees to the art, drama, music, dance and culture of Africa. 

Please click here to read about project success stories. 

Positive Partnerships Programme 
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CAABWA's Positive Partnerships Programme supports women-led projects and initiatives in Africa.

Public donations to this programme support women entrepreneurship programmes such as Gone Rural.

Gone Rural (Pty) Ltd. was initiated as a Rural Development Handicraft Business in 1992, focusing on the upliftment and empowerment of rural Swazi women through handicraft.

Gone Rural is committed to empowering rural Swazi women, alleviating poverty and supporting HIV/AIDS orphans by creating a regular income through working with traditional hand-skills to produce unique, beautiful products that are made in the home
using locally available and sustainable natural materials.
Gone Rural was one of the 12 finalists in the BBC’s World Challenge.

-          42.6% of Swaziland’s tiny population of 1.1 million people are already HIV+

-          By 2010, the life expectancy in Swaziland will be 29 years old.

-          Swaziland currently has about 70,000 orphans and 22,000 child-headed households.

-          By 2010, they will have 120,000 orphaned children.

-          Approximately 69% of Swaziland’s population currently live below the poverty line (US$ 22/ month).

Gone Rural Bomake
Through Gone Rural’s hands-on involvement with the rural women and taking into account Swaziland’s extremely high HIV status (42.6% of total population is HIV+) they recently registered a Section 21 (non-profit) company, “Gone Rural boMake”. Gone Rural boMake’s mission is to strengthen, support and educate
the 14 communities supporting Gone Rural’s business operations, by facilitating healthcare, education, and holistic lifestyle programs that introduce critical life-skills and knowledge to improve upon existing social programs and sustain a
self-sufficient way of life for all while fighting the devastating impact of Swaziland’s HIV/AIDS pandemic.

Their projects include:

-          Provision of school fees, uniforms and books for AIDS orphans

-          Facilitation of voluntary HIV/AIDS testing and counselling in rural areas

-          Facilitation of access to ARV’s, condoms and AIDS education on an ongoing basis in rural areas

-          Provision of clean drinkable water in drought-stricken areas and training in vegetable “trench” gardening programmes to provide a better source of nutrition.


“While I have always had an appreciation for being born,
raised, educated and employed in Canada, I never
fully understood the value of being an independent
businesswoman; feeling empowered and having
choices, until I visited local businesswomen in Africa.
I learned that having the good fortune of being a
business woman in Africa meant they were able to
overcome basic challenges which I could never imagine,
like the spread of HIV & extreme poverty.”

Kathleen Holland,
CAABWA Volunteer