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Betty Penny travels to Malaysia and Singapore to sign business contracts

October 5, 1998

   Betty Penny, President of Penny & Associates, has been a very busy woman lately. First, she was one of 40 businesswomen who participated in the first ever Virtual Trade Mission for female entrepreneurs. She then made a trip to Malaysia to explore business opportunities with some of the other trade mission participants. After that, it was on to Singapore for a side trip to meet with some more of the participants.

   It all started with a Trade Mission trip to Washington, which led to her being contacted to participate in the Virtual Trade Mission, which was sponsored by IBM, Lucent Technologies and Royal Bank of Canada. The Virtual Trade Mission was announced on April 22, 1998, with the goal of providing women entrepreneurs the opportunity to utilize the internet to explore international business connections with one another.

   The Virtual Trade Mission was hosted on the internet from July 1 to August 31, 1998, and utilized several means of electronic communication, including email, online forums and programme website. They also participated in a live videoconference on July 27, from Toronto, Vancouver, Ottawa, and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The advantage of this was that it was a very economical way to do business, providing the opportunity to explore whether a potential match existed before going to the expense of meeting in person. Using internet technology also allowed for getting around the barriers imposed by distance and time zones.

   The participants were introduced to each other online and discussed their business goals. They talked about the products and services they could provide or wanted to purchase. When they met via videoconference, they had facilitators monitoring the sessions so if one person provided a certain product/service and another person required that product/service, the facilitators would point this out. Ms. Penny's goal was to connect with other businesswomen who were looking to expand into Canada and required Canadian based accounting and business management services.

   When Ms. Penny made the trip to Malaysia and Singapore, she found it to be a very interesting experience. On her return, she said that she had made many valuable professional contacts from the trip. She found that Malaysians are looking to distribute products such as wrought iron designed furniture, building by products such as plastics and insulation products. They have a large base of manufacturing products such as glass, rubber and iron ready to be exported. The Malaysians are looking for investors and joint trading partners. Ms. Penny found that the Singaporeans are highly information technology based, with many software developers and software based products. The Singaporeans are looking for information technology based investors and business partners.

   Ms. Penny was in Malaysia from September 4 to September 9, 1998, and was in Singapore from September 10 to September 12, 1998. It wasn't all business, as she also found a little bit of time to do some sightseeing, and thoroughly enjoyed both Malaysia and Singapore. She said that both countries were beautiful places to visit.

   About half of the approximately 120 members of the trade mission will come from Ontario.