„Growing interest of Croatian companies to export to Canada“
INTERVIEW – Caroline Spivak, founder of the Croatian Women’s Network™
Tell us about Profile Communications Corp. and share some of your key accomplishments.
Profile Communications Corp. is a a reputational risk management company based in Toronto, Canada. For 11 years we have developed, managed, and executed public relations, issues management and crisis communications strategies and programs for leading Canadian and international companies with a focus on association, corporate, financial, investor and stakeholder communications. Most recently, we were awarded a 2019 Management Consulting Award by CEO Today Magazine and we were named the 2019 B2B Communications Agency of the Year – Canada by Business Worldwide Magazine.
As champion of women’s empowerment, in 2014, I founded the Croatian Women’s Network™/Mreža Hrvatskih Žena. A global network of women of Croatian heritage, the organization seeks to connect, champion and celebrate the accomplishments of Croatian women the world over. Croatian Women’s Network™/Mreža Hrvatskih Žena confers a Croatian Women of Influence Award and a Future Leader Award, for young women aged 16-20 at a gala event which follows its conference, Advancing Women. Advancing Economies. Realize the Potential! held annually, since 2016, on International Women’s Day in Zagreb, Republic of Croatia. To date, the Network has conferred 95 awards selected from more than 300 nominations. Nominations for the next year are open and can be submitted by October 23, 2019 at the following link – Nominate an amazing women today.
Apart from your main business you are active in bodies which promote networking between Croats from Canada with those in the world and the Homeland. You’re a member of the Croatian World Congress (CWC) and the Spokesperson for North America. What are the organization’s current priorities and biggest challenges?
Members from 30 countries participate on a voluntary basis. CWK operates at both global and national levels through permanent working committees: the Humanitarian Giving Committee, the Renewal and Investment Committee, the Culture and Sports Committee, Education and Home Affairs, the Publicity and Information Committee, the Return and Immigration Committee and the Youth Committee. As far as challenges are concerned, I would say that it is the most difficult to maintain relationships and enthusiasm and to move various opinions towards consensus and joint co-operation. Even today, many organizations are regarded as the ‘voice’ of our diaspora, so it is sometimes difficult to stand out in Croatia.
Is it fair to say that there are increasing opportunities for mutual business growth between Canadian and Croatian companies?
Interest is significant and growing. Last fall (Nov. 2018) The Croatian Chamber of Economy and the Croatian-Canadian Chamber of Commerce organized its third trade mission to Canada which saw more than 40 business people come to Toronto from Croatia. In his formal remarks, Ivan Barbarić, Vice President for International Affairs and EU at the Croatian Chamber of Economy, noted that, exports from Croatia to Canada had grown by almost 150% in the first eight months of 2018. This number continues to steady increase, which is encouraging.
Croatian World Games will bring more than 1,200 participants in July 2020 in Zagreb
For the past 26 years the CWC has sought to establish and cultivate a united network of Croatians, Croatian Associations and Institutions across the diaspora. Currently, the CWC is in deep preparations for the organization of the fifth Croatian World Games which will be hosted from July 21 – 25, 2020 in Zagreb. This extraordinary event brings together more than 1,200 youth participants from Croatia’s diaspora communities the world over to Croatia to compete and socialize.
What are the most promising industries in your country, as well as those that are developing rapidly. Where do you see the chances for our exporters?
In Canada the technology ecosystem is likely one of the fastest growing industries. The technology sector is the third largest in the world and home to several world-famous incubators including the MaRS Discovery District, the DMZ at Ryerson University and the so-called technology corridors from Markham to Toronto and stretching to Kitchener. There are plenty of business opportunities.
I’ve seen some of this growth in Croatia as well, particularly in Osijek which I would consider the Silicon Valley of Croatia. Canada is a truly multicultural society where interest in fashion, food and beverage, cars and technology tend to be of significant interest. Education, building products, infrastructure and related services are also areas that present tremendous prospects.
Canadians already have access to Croatian chocolates and sweets from Kraš, confectionaries from other brands, food and beverage products from Jana, Pik and Podravka, Vegeta, Croatian wines and spirits such as brandy, rakija and orahovac and even footwear from Borovo. We’d certainly be happy to have access to more Croatian products!
Bilateral trade growth
The Canadian-Croatian Business Network in Zagreb and the Croatian-Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Toronto have been active in promoting bilateral trade and organizing trade missions which help to introduce new business opportunities in both countries. In 2018, exports from Croatia to Canada (mainly medications, electrical transformers and aluminum foil) totaled more than $111 million (up from $50 million in 2017), while exports from Canada to Croatia (medications, dried leguminous vegetables and aircraft parts) amounted to $162 Million (up from $23 million in 2017).
What would you point out as the most important for Croatian exporters to succeed in your country?
Did you participate in any of the four Meeting G2 conferences held to date? What are your impressions?
I’ve had the opportunity to be a sponsor and panel speaker at the first two conferences and look forward to the upcoming meeting in a few weeks. I’m a proponent of all substantive initiatives that bring Croatians together, to work together and to succeed together. As the conference grows, I believe that we will see concrete business development and mutual success.
CETA – increasing opportunities for free trade between Croatia and Canada
In 2017 Croatia became the third EU Member state to ratify the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with Canada. This is extremely important because CETA addresses or eliminates barriers in virtually all sectors and aspects of Canada-Croatia bilateral trade, increases jobs and promotes new commercial opportunities for Canadian and Croatian businesses.
What are the three things that Croatia is best known for in your country?
1. Athletic excellence: basketball, soccer and tennis in particular
2. Tourism: a stunning Adriatic coastline
3. Movies: James Bond, Game of Thrones and Star Wars The Last Jedi to name a few