In addition to supporting export transactions, EDC has a proactive mandate to develop export trade – that is, to open doors and international opportunities for Canadian companies’ products and services. One of our strategies is to build relationships with targeted foreign companies operating in strategic markets or sectors, and then connecting qualified Canadian businesses to those companies.
Through the EDC Business Connections Program, Canadian companies are introduced to leading global companies interested in benefiting from Canadian expertise and innovation and with whom EDC has nurtured relationships over months and years.
Although the program is a highly customized service, we are working on scaling up the program through the use of technology so that more companies can benefit from it. Today, exporters can go on our website to see the various markets, sectors and companies where we have relationships that they might be able to leverage, assuming they meet the qualification criteria.
Connection financing, our most widely used tool to advance business connections for our Canadian customers, is an untied financing commitment made to a targeted international relationship, which we leverage to influence that company to work closely with EDC and to consider Canadian procurement. This includes agreeing to work with EDC to better understand Canadian capabilities – for example, by participating in business connection events.
We reviewed all of our connection financing relationships in 2019 to ensure alignment with EDC’s corporate values, policies and strategy. This exercise prompted us to adopt an even more deliberate and strategic approach to our relationships and the companies with which we do business going forward. We made decisions to exit some relationships with foreign connection financing borrowers whose CSR management capabilities did not meet our expectations. We are focusing on fewer connections financing relationships, with those companies that embody best practices.
In 2019, EDC:
EDC organizes B2B connection events and collaborates with the Trade Commissioner Service and other Canadian partners on trade missions that provide unique opportunities for Canadian exporters to meet international companies. To improve the prospects of a contract win, we’ve made a strong push to engage Canadian companies that can address foreign companies’ key business needs, such as innovation, green procurement or digital transformation.
For example, in 2019 our Global Trade team invited 15 innovators in the Canadian mining space to meetings with four connection financing relationships in Chile. While Canadian mining suppliers are best in class around the world and bring value through their services and technology, supplier value propositions were mapped out tightly against international companies’ needs and procurement opportunities. The meetings themselves took place at the mining company offices so that more of the company’s representatives could participate and our Canadian customers could engage with people who were uniquely qualified to assess their offerings.
The result: 41 meetings took place, of which 12 progressed into opportunity development before the end of the year, with two sales already finalized. In a mining sales cycle that typically takes one to two years, a one-month cycle broke the mould.
In 2019, EDC hosted 15 formal connection events, bringing together 196 unique Canadian companies and 32 unique international buyers.