Wall Street Journal

Virtual Trade Mission
A Virtual Trade Mission is icing deals for women

By Arnfin Jacobson
March 19, 2001

Last fall, more than 20 U.S. women entrepreneurs hooked up with potential Canadian customers and business partners via chat rooms and video conferences sponsored by the Small Business Administration. Most participants had no prior experience in crossborder networking and would not have been able to afford a full-blown exploratory mission to Canada.

Cherie Knight-Batey, the founder and president of the Atlanta-based Alternative Technology Solutions LLC, a four-employee company that integrates wireless systems, says that she nailed down two solid deals and three other potential agreements from the mission. "The beauty of the trade mission was that you could lay the groundwork upfront-online and without the expense," says Ms. Knight-Batey, who stumbled across the trade-mission opportunity while surfing the SBA Web site.

"This was a good way to get started," says Patricia May, who took part in the mission on behalf of Precision Language Services, her Lakeville, Minn.-based translation firm.

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