April 12, 2007 10:00 ET

California Businesswoman Leverages Trade Mission to Expand Company and Raise Awareness of Global Business Opportunities

Shaila Rao Mistry Shows Why She Is a "Woman to Watch" in Orange County

ORANGE COUNTY, CA -- (MARKET WIRE) -- April 12, 2007 -- Shaila Rao Mistry, president of Jayco MMI based in Southern California, thinks big. And she is a longtime proponent of global business -- even for women small business owners who may think no further than their own state lines.

"Too many women business owners in the United States are totally unaware of the huge opportunities available in overseas trade and commerce, and that even small businesses are affected by the trends and implications of global trade," said Mistry. "I believe we need to catch up to our male counterparts and begin learning how to leverage these opportunities to grow our businesses with global partners and clients."

Mistry recently returned as one of 10 women business owner "ambassadors" sent to the Netherlands and Belgium as part of a first-time Trade Mission, sponsored by the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), the U.S. Department of Commerce and Women In Business (WIB). Over six days, the women, picked from all over the country and representing diverse industries, learned first-hand how and why embracing a global focus would help their business' growth. Companies selected either were already participating in the global trade market or had a vision to expand into Europe in the near future.

Mistry's Jayco, which develops, designs, engineers and manufactures cutting-edge interface products designed to improve human machine interaction, currently manufactures products at its facility in Corona, Calif. Products include control panels, membrane switches and touch screens for applications in the medical, aircraft, security systems and high-end appliance industries. One of the first companies in its field and one of the few companies of its type still in business today, Jayco has business partnerships and alliances in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan and China, and plans further global ventures to showcase the products in growing markets worldwide in 2007.

"While I was thrilled about this opportunity for Jayco to attract some of the strong technology markets in Belgium and the Netherlands, I was also excited by some of the other unique opportunities the Trade Mission offered," said Mistry. "This experience helped me continue my efforts to raise awareness about how important it is for women in business to be knowledgeable on international trade issues."

Not only did the Mission facilitate networking receptions with government officials and local women's organizations, it also educated the women on important aspects of international market trade. Key industry experts addressed the women in informational sessions on topics such as taxation systems, import/export criteria, freight and transportation, finance and banking, logistics, and the legal facets of forming or expanding a business in another country.

In addition, the businesswomen learned the importance of understanding cultural differences when maintaining employees or business relations overseas. For Mistry, who was born in India, educated in England, lived in several different countries and has learned 11 languages, this concept already plays a role in her professional life.

"I work hard to maintain my Indian cultural identity, moving between the American and Indian cultures with ease," said Mistry. "My cultural pride added value and depth to my experience, and hopefully played an important role in achieving the Trade Mission's overall goal of establishing bridges between American and European executive women."

Mistry, whose passions overlap business and international politics, has acted as a leader in promoting women's issues for years. Along with running her own business and maintaining active memberships in NAWBO and the AAUW, Mistry also has spoken at United Nations Summits in Switzerland, Tunisia, Geneva and New York City on issues and proposed legislation related to Women in Trade and Commerce, International Peace, Gender Equality and Globalization of Technology. She was recently honored in her hometown by being named one of "20 Women to Watch" 2007 by OC METRO Magazine, a leading Orange County-based business lifestyle publication.

Following the NAWBO U.S. Trade Mission, most participants were able to explore pending global business deals and were confident they had received quality leads for new business opportunities. The women who went on the inaugural trade mission are eager to participate in another trade mission in the future, and encourage other businesswomen to test the waters overseas.

"I was very humbled to learn that U.S. women entrepreneurs are indeed role models, both at home and abroad," added Mistry. "I believe that, as a group, we were very much Ambassadors of Trade and Commerce to the Netherlands and Belgium."

Mistry can be reached through her email; more company information is available at

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