When my cofounder and I launched The WMarketplace in September of 2020, we already had an idea that partnerships would be crucial to success. Partnering with mission-aligned organizations to reach and support women-owned businesses is consistent with who we are as a business. We know that coming together, collaboration, and mutual support will take us much further than going it alone.
This was soon proved when entrepreneurial woman who worked at a Women’s Business Center here in Washington State reached out about partnering to launch her clients’ businesses online with us. We successfully grew that partnership into our ecommerce education curriculum for women-owned businesses, which we have trademarked under the umbrella of HER-Commerce™.
About a year later, one of my former colleagues at the International Trade Administration, where I started my career after graduate school, reached out about collaborating. After co-hosting a well-attended online seminar about opportunities for business growth through exporting, we knew we had an opportunity to bring more great content and information to the women-owned businesses in our community through a deeper partnership. In April 2022, that partnership was formalized and The WMarketplace was named an Official Strategic Partner of the International Trade Administration.
In this role, we collaborate with the International Trade Administration (ITA - a branch of the U.S. Department of Commerce, a federal government agency that supports business growth) to bring education and resources about ecommerce, international trade and other key topics to women-owned businesses in the U.S. We are particularly excited about our next collaboration! On October 18th, we are co-hosting a Women’s Funding Summit with our ITA partners on access to capital for women-owned businesses. The Seattle office of the ITA, has partnered closely with us on setting the agenda, recruiting speakers, and promoting the event through its nation-wide network of offices. The content will introduce women-owned businesses to financial resources ranging from crowdfunding to more traditional banking options. Each session will include representatives from the various financial institutions and a woman who successfully used their services so attendees can learn from other women’s direct experience and be empowered and inspired to grow their businesses in a new way.
These partnerships, and others we have formed with The Riveter, WBENC, Take the Lead Women, and more, have resulted in shared knowledge, outreach, and access to resources for our sellers and customers far beyond what we can accomplish individually. And this truly is the mission of The WMarketplace. To bring women and resources together to grow and thrive – and create a fabulous shopping experience for our customers. Cheers to partnerships!!
If you are growing your business through exporting or wanting to explore this as an option, the US Commercial Service has lots of resources for you. Following is a summary of their top services. Please reach out to the Seattle office and they can connect you with a local trade specialist or to a resource in your area.
Exporting Resources from the U.S. Commercial Service:
International Market Intelligence
The U.S. Commercial Service produces and regularly updates Country Commercial Guides. These reports cover market conditions, opportunities, regulations and business customs by country. Country Commercial Guides are prepared at U.S. Embassies worldwide by the Commerce Department, State Department and other U.S. agencies’ professionals. https://www.trade.gov/ccg-landing-page
The U.S. Commercial Service also provides U.S. companies with answers to questions specific to their products or services in a market, including information about market structure, trends and size, customary distribution and promotion practices, and key competitors, agents, distributors, or strategic partners. https://www.trade.gov/customized-market-research-0
The Initial Market Check service provides U.S. firms with an initial assessment of the market potential of their product or service in a targeted market by gathering feedback from industry participants and providing recommendations on whether to pursue the target market. https://www.trade.gov/initial-market-check
Identifying Partners & Customers
The International Partner Search service provides U.S. businesses with a list of partners and/or distributors that have expressed interest in the company's goods or services. The service includes identification and outreach to potential matching firms, preparing a profile of interested firms, and providing a report with the profile and contact information of interested firms. https://www.trade.gov/international-partner-search
The Gold Key Service provides U.S. companies with matchmaking appointments with up to five interested partners in a foreign market. The full service includes identification and outreach to potential matching firms, sending clients’ information to identified matching firms, preparing a profile of interested firms, attending the appointments, and providing a report with the profile and contact information for interested firms. https://www.trade.gov/gold-key-service
The International Company Profile service provides an in-depth or basic background check information on a specific foreign company to help determine its suitability as a potential business partner. https://www.trade.gov/international-company-profile-0.
Attract International Customers to your Website
The Website Globalization Review (WGR) Gap Analysis service provides technical and strategic assessment of a business’s ecommerce sales channel efforts. This is a SEO diagnostic service designed to help you acquire more international consumers online. https://www.trade.gov/website-globalization-review-gap-analysis