Small players looking to feast on $5.3 trillion pie

Small and medium sized Canadian businesses have a new Internet marketplace to help them get a piece of the $5.3 trillion governments around the world spend on international procurement.

SourceCAN, a partnership between the federal government, the Canadian Commercial Corp. (CCC) and HyperNet Inc. of Toronto, opened Wednesday with hopes small companies can take advantage of global e-commerce.

For firms not doing business online yet, Industry Canada also opened a new site called ebiz.enable, to help them plan how to implement an e-business strategy.

“It gives us a one-stop shop for small Canadian businesses,” said David Chase of Industry Canada, who chairs SourceCAN’s working group.

“They’re now able to have a single focus where, with one diagnostic tool, they can find out what (e-commerce) is about, and then go to a marketplace where they can showcase their goods and services, and increase their exports.”

Last year Canadian firms sold $1.3 billion in goods and services to foreign governments.

Assisting on some of those deals was the CCC, a Crown agency that helps Canadian companies find and bid on export contracts. That’s why it got involved in SourceCAN, said CCC president Doug Patriquin

Every year CCC sends out some 25,000 American bid opportunities to 1,000 companies here. It wants to expand that number.

“We believe SourceCAN will help us reach a much larger client base,” said Patriquin, “allowing us to disseminate a wider range of opportunities to a larger range of companies.”

At the heart of SourceCAN, which is free, are databases of company information from 23 federal departments and four provinces. A foreign government wanting to see if a Canadian company can supply a product or service can search the site by industry sector, keyword, tier, quality certification, province and other criteria.

In addition, there’s a section on how to invest in Canada and how to buy and sell to a company here.

On the other side, a business gateway gives companies access to foreign government requests for bids from a number of information feeds such as the U.S. Commerce Business Daily, Mexico’s Pemex and the European Union.

While the government contributed databases, HyperNet’s contribution to the partnership was to design the site. It gets the right to sell banner ads and make deals with companies like GE Global exchange Services to provide registered companies with financial transaction capabilities.

There are 46,000 companies listed in SourceCAN already, but Chase hopes to raise that to 200,000 in a year.

In addition, by the end of the year SourceCAN will also be a channel companies can use to access federal purchasing.

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Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer. Former editor of and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, Howard has written for several of ITWC's sister publications, including Before arriving at ITWC he served as a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times.

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