Canadian Importers

Ready To Import

Canada’s level of imports from developing nations has increased 70% from 1999 to 2004. Imports from LDCs, although still very modest, have more than tripled in the same time period. While the majority of these imports (from LDCs) are in commodities such as crude oil, aluminum ore and rubber, consumer goods are occupying an increasing volume involving items such as textiles, apparel, food products, tableware, kitchenware, headwear, carpets, electrical and electronic equipment, sporting goods and jewellery.

TFO Canada`s primary commitment is to assisting exporters in developing and transition economy countries in their endeavors to gain access to new markets such as Canada. A key part of this assistance is the publication of export offers from qualified companies (*) to TFO Canada -registered importers via our “Import Info e-Newsletter”.

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TFO Canada provides services to exporters from developing transition economy countries according to Global Affairs Canada’s list of “Countries and territories eligible for Canadian development assistance”. Forty-eight of these countries are officially considered Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and receive LDCT (LDC Tariff) Treatment.

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If you are new to international trade and have no experience in importing into Canada from abroad, this guide provides you with excellent background information to get you to think about how to organize your import activities and to help you put a plan together. You may be Canadian, or you may have recently emigrated to Canada and feel there are opportunities to exploit, especially when it comes to products you know from having lived in your country of origin, and that you feel would have a niche in the Canadian marketplace. If so, this guide may provide you with valuable information.

Information in the guide:

  • Importing from Developing Countries
  • Regulations
  • Tools and Resources for Importing
  • TFO Canada Activities in Support if Canadian Importers

Download – A Practical Guide for New SME Importers

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Success Stories

Testimonial Success Story
Jeilo Collection: Reducing Textile Waste In The Fashion And Textile Sector
JEILO Collections is a social enterprise created in 2016 in Nairobi, Kenya, by founder Grace Mbugua. Over the years, it expanded to include a profit-making subsidiary called the Jeilo Leather Company to sell the leather goods it makes. Jeilo has 22 employees - 11 men and 11 women.
Testimonial Success Story
Women at the forefront of manufacturing
Surianti Ang is the director and owner of Queen Pacific Suksesabadi, a trading and shoe manufacturing company based in Jakarta, Indonesia. The company was established in 2007 as a trading company; in 2011, they started manufacturing sandals, flip flops and other types of shoes. Queen Pacific has been successfully operating since 2007, making sales to name brands such as Michael Kors, Hush Puppies, Bata worldwide. Since 2014 the company has been exporting to Peru, Kenya, the USA and Asia pacific with dreams of reaching even further.Queen Pacific’s success is no simple formula; however, the founder prides herself on the fact that women are big part of the operations in her company. “Aside from it being a woman-owned company, the presence of women can be felt everywhere from production to management.”  Queen Pacific employs and works with 60% of women. Surianti states, “I prefer working with women in manufacturing, and at the office, women more active and careful, and they don’t give up easily. The women in my company are very hard working. Don’t get me wrong, we do employ men, and their presence is appreciated, but women are really what keeps PT Queen Pacific moving and propelling into the future.”In 2019 Queen Pacific received the Primaniyarta award; the highest award given by the Government of Indonesia to exporters that have made tremendous achievements in the export sector. The award is given by the Government of Indonesia through the Directorate General of National Export Development. This was a big accomplishment for Queen Pacific as a woman owned exporter competing with big multinational companies in the same sector. “We have stiff competition from both China and Vietnam; so, our priority is to set ourselves apart. To do so, we focus on producing a good quality product. Therefore, teamwork is important to us, a strong and good team creates a strong and good product, but to do that, we have to make sure our employees are in a good work environment and feel like a family. Ultimately having a good team and strong team- which for me includes many women- means that we all succeed, especially the company and the brand”.  “The COVID-19 pandemic really impacted the manufacturing.” Part of the measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 virus meant many companies had to close completely or enforce social distancing measures, resulting in reduced production. “Since I started doing business, I have always prepared for the worst-case scenario, whether a natural disaster or a loss of a customer. We have always set aside funds so that our company can survive for two years. In this time, we would adjust to the market and try to recover losses. So I guess in a way, when the pandemic occurred, we were slightly prepared. We can’t just wait for the pandemic to pass but what we can do is begin to adjust to the existing conditions and work around this new order.”“What I want to see for Queen Pacific is that we survive these challenging times. My company is like a family, and they have families.  The pandemic was also a wake-up call. I have been producing fashion items, but now I want to focus on merging fashion with supporting local communities around me even further. 
Testimonial Success Story
Where Tradition and the Environment Meet
Djiguiyaso- which means “house of hope” in the Malian language Bambara-  is a cooperative  established in Mali in 2004. It specializes in textiles often made using traditional methods and environmentally friendly dyes, creating a product that is distinctly Malian. Aïssata Namoko is the founder of Djiguyaso and has worked in the sector for 60 years along with her family members. From the age of 6  she learned about Malian textiles from her mother who used to be a weaver. This intergenerational practice of textile production is essential for passing down traditional knowledge and led Aïssata to establish Djiguyaso. Diguyaso offers the world quintessential Malian textiles that are turned into homeware, home décor, apparel and accessories. In 2004 the cooperative started out with 10 women, and now it works with over 100 local women and 24 men. Over the years Aïssata has provided training to women and men in her community on dying, spinning, cutting, sewing, crocheting, weaving, and product finishing.  “I was pushed by my passion for textiles and sewing; I learned these skills from my mother as a child. The most exciting thing about what I do is the dying process especially using indigo dye”. Indigo is a plant grown in Mali whose leaves are used to colour textiles. The leaves are plucked and dried for several days, then crushed into a powder. The powder is used as the primary ingredient in creating different hues of blues. The powder is mixed with water and sometimes potash (mined salts that contain potassium) is thrown into the mix  to create different variants of blue. This process takes approximately two weeks to one month to achieve the right colour mixture. “This method of dying and creating textile patterns have existed in Mali for over three thousand years, this really sets us apart from a lot of our competitors since we use traditional methods to create the finalized product.” Aïssata started to export globally with the support of TFO Canada. In 2007, TFO Canada staff connected with designers from Mali and 4 other countries for “Design Africa” and that’s how Aïssata came to be part of the TFO Canada umbrella. That year, she attended a leading home décor trade show, Salon International de Décoration et d’Intérieur de Montréal (SIDIM).  “Design Africa” was funded by many donors and sponsors including the Canadian Government through the Program for Building African Capacity in Trade (PACT) and provided training on accessing the Canadian and foreign markets as well as support to attend SIDIM.  At the show she met many North American buyers such as Aid for Artisans and made plenty of sales. One big order came from a buyer in Europe for 800 large textile cloths. This changed the course of Djiguyaso and opened the door to the European market.  In 2010, Djiguyaso was recognized by UNESCO for its use of traditional techniques and its community development initiatives. “This year has been a hard year for the handmade goods sector, but what I hope is to keep the cooperative moving forward. Through the cooperative, we’ve created a centre for youth, and we focus on training them in the crafts, dying, crocheting and sewing so they can take over in the future. Its important to keep passing down this traditional knowledge and methods of dying, its part of Malian history and culture. We want to motivate the youth, to be interested in the crafts, and promote Mali’s tradition and artisan work all over the world. We also built a water pit for the community so that women can have access to clean water.  We do our best to ensure that our members are being paid fair wages so they can raise their families and satisfy their needs. So much of this success is in part due to the partnerships we made in 2007 at the SIDIM show with the help of TFO Canada”.    
Testimonial Success Story
Mambo Studios: Growing online
Juan Manuel Duque is the CEO of Mambo studios which has been exporting services out of Colombia for the last 7 years. Mambo studios is a creative service that creates and produces advertising for corporations including animations, videos, graphics, motion graphics and innovative services.Like many places in the world, Colombia underwent lock down procedures to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus.  While this presented itself as a challenge for many SMEs, Mambo Studios have been fortunate enough to continue business. “It’s one of the benefits of being a service provider that works mainly online. The lock down has to some extent affected our clientele in Colombia, however overseas we still have work from the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico”. “Prior to the lock down we had clients mainly from the United States and Panama, we always wanted to tap into other international markets and Canada seemed like a great opportunity. Through ProColombia Mambo studios was introduced to TFO Canada and the Gateway to Trade program in 2018. Through this program we received training sessions in Colombia about the Canadian market and client base. From there on, out of the 40 companies that attended the training, we were one of 14 to be selected to come to Toronto to attend B2B meetings and meet potential clients. This was a great opportunity because we had scouted out a production company called Double Barrel that fit the profile of services we offer. Through TFO Canada we managed to arrange meetings with them and from there Double Barrel became a partner.  The second part of the program was bringing Canadian buyers to Colombia, when Double Barrel came to Colombia, we brought them to Cali to visit our offices and signed an MoU”.  “Since signing our MoU, we’ve worked together on projects for multiple clients, including Deloitte & the Department of Defence".Colombia is known for its service industry, but what sets Mambo studios apart from everyone is their ability to fill in the “cultural gap”. “At Mambo studios we are able to relate culturally with the markets we work with. We understand the cultural values that each country has which allows us to adapt our content and understand of what will and won’t work for clients when we make proposals. There is a lot of companies that provides services like ours but 7 years of learning and understanding the cultures and countries we work with has really set us apart from our competitors”. During these times, many businesses have suffered losses. However, E-commerce has proven to be a powerful tool for some. Here are some Mambo Studio’s tips for companies that aren’t able to go back to their offices or work at full capacity:  Ideally try to produce content that does not involve moving people. An example is If you must do trainings make animated training materials, they are easy to share and distribute and can be accessible for everyone. Start exploring animated content (it’s very relevant right now) and moving things online. You can sell yourself or your services online through a website, you can make a video at home or create animations about your products or services, this way you can reach far bigger audience from all corners of the world. Using a video to explain what you are selling allows you to have a good online presence. If you can afford it try creating a Virtual Reality or an Augmented reality experience. Virtual reality is good for people in the environment or tourism sectors where you can create virtual experiences for the services you offer. Augmented reality is good for people who sell products an example is using the Nike App to see what a shoe will look like on you. Using these types of online tools will help exporters bring a different experience to everyone. “Overall, my hope for the future is that Mambo studios is to create more partnerships in different parts of the world. We want to create an international network of partnerships that will allow us to redevelop our content and grow as a business”. Facebook: @mambostudio.tvLinkedin:  
Testimonial Success Story
Crafting Hope
Aling Nur Naluri Widianti is the founder of Salam Rancage a not for profit social enterprise that supports local women in Borgor, Indonesia, by providing them with trainings on how to produce handicrafts made from locally recycled materials. Salam Rancage sell their handmade craft online at; locally as well as to buyers from all over the world. Under the project Canadian Market Access and Capacity Building Services and Canada Indonesia Trade and Private Sector Assistance projects, Aling received online trainings, attended workshops on Exporting to Canada since 2014. According to Aling “,“Since 2014 I have received support from TFO Canada who have aided in the development of Salam Rancage. Through TFO Canada I learned to connect with buyers and exporters as a businesswoman,. Learning about the Canadian and International export market, gives me an advantage in understanding the market and how to target items and export strategies. I also learned a lot on how to improve my business model and better target buyers. Before Aling became an entrepreneur, and a bold figure in her community supporting in the environmental and social development of Bogor; In her community there were many challenges Aling was deeply affected by this and wanted to support her community in finding sustainable solutions that would support the families as well as keep the community of Bogor clean. Upon discussion with her friends they decided that the best way to financially support the community and keep it clean would be to start a social business with a full staff of women.Together Aling and a the women from the community have started an open farm, a community cleaning project, empowering the local women with village associations led by the women in the community, starting a zero waste market, increasing the income of the community and overall making her community more “green and clean”.Aling’s business not only stimulates the economy, but it puts women and the environment first. Her hopes for the future is to continue to inspire women all over Indonesia, “ I want to inspire them to create something for themselves and their communitiesI want to thank TFO Canada team for their support and motivation. Keep up the good work and thank you for your continuous encouragement”.
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