Growing Export Trade: Working with Edmonton’s Experts

Recently, the City of Edmonton restructured the responsibilities of a few of their agencies: Edmonton Global, TEC Edmonton and Edmonton Economic Development Corporation (EEDC). As a part of this restructure, all Foreign Direct Investment and Trade activities were removed from the purview of EEDC. As the EEDC group undergoes a shift, we want to publicly celebrate and thank them for the support they’ve offered our business and city. Our company has been fortunate enough to have successfully raised a significant amount through a capital raise and the sale of retail assets – capital which will be re-invested into Edmonton. The support and initiatives provided to us by EEDC in the fledgling stages of our business helped us gain visibility that led to that capital investment.

When we began Token Naturals, we had the chance to separate ourselves from the market by creating a complementary, subsidiary business making aromatic cocktail bitters while waiting for a cannabis license. What began as a small side endeavour resulted in a product sold nationally across Canada, exported to Japan, and at the precipice of export to Mexico and Europe. We thank EEDC’s team, because without them we might not have achieved the export of our products so quickly.

Team members at EEDC had their ear to the ground and identified us as an export opportunity early on. We were approached to join a trade mission to Japan – one that directly resulted in an importer relationship and recurring purchase order. After that first successful market, they made us aware of the Trade Accelerator Program, a workshop for small to medium-sized enterprises that provides knowledge, resources and coaching to scale up, develop and execute an export plan. Once we built on our export planning, EEDC matched upcoming export missions with our target markets. Their team knows the landscape and did the research for us. Throughout the development of that relationship, they supported us with guidance and connections and found new opportunities to develop our presence there, such as trade show participation. They made connections directly to decision makers in business and government, so we didn’t have to start from scratch. Just as important, they educated us in the customs and nuances of a new market.

Now, we have a successful product that helps us to stand out from other cannabis companies at our stage of growth. We are able to leverage our export journey, showing we’ve established pathways for future cannabis exportation. Our export opportunities allowed us to access capital that we otherwise might not have received. Moreover, we now have confidence in our future success and ability to replicate our exportation wins with a new product.

We’ve seen measurable results on the metrics that EEDC tracks to define their success: markets entered, sales figures, contracts signed. We’ve also been fortunate enough to enjoy the more qualitative benefits that EEDC’s team has to offer. The team went above and beyond, keeping us apprised of business happenings and municipal changes. They went out of their way, often on personal time, to introduce us to other companies – some of which have become partners and supporters. The EEDC created speaking and networking opportunities that presented investor introductions and organized media coverage that increased our profile. They are the experts in business that we first turned to.

There are so many Edmontonian businesses that have worked with (and greatly benefited from) EEDC’s mandate to grow trade and export opportunities and volume. In addition to sharing our gratitude, we take this moment to congratulate EEDC and their staff on the business wins that they have planted across the community.

At the same time, we want to push for continued collaboration between small businesses like ours, working to grow Edmonton’s industries and economy, and the government agencies that can support them. It is our hope that the efforts of these organizations are enhanced moving forward, as we have seen first-hand through our relationship with EEDC the economic power and benefits this sort of collaborative support can have.

To our friends at EEDC, thank you for your tireless efforts to successfully set Token up for success on the international stage. We very much look forward to the future of trade and export in Edmonton, and to seeing the seeds planted by EEDC continue to bloom.