Posts Tagged 'KOVAL Distillery'

WEGG: Clearing the Path for Women to Take on the World

Through collaboration and a passion to help small businesses succeed, EXIM Bank and Women Entrepreneurs Grow Global (WEGG) were able to arm KOVAL Distillery with the resources and support needed to exceed its global business growth goals.

One of WEGG’s members, Sonat Birnecker Hart, president and co-owner of KOVAL Distillery, hosted a WEGG workshop and also presented at the event. KOVAL Distillery produces organic whiskey, liqueurs and specialty spirits that are sold throughout the US, Europe, Canada, Australia and Asia.

Ms. Hart says:

“We recognized that as our export business grows, it would behoove us to have a system in place to be able to send over more product and build stronger relationships with our partners. Having the support of EXIM Bank allows us greater flexibility to meet the needs of our growing markets, while providing us with the security to aim higher,” Sonat explained.

The two organizations, EXIM Bank and WEGG, will continue to work together and cultivate these opportunities for women entrepreneurs throughout the US.

WEGG’s work revolves around educating and helping women entrepreneurs and business owners export their products and services throughout the world.

Read more about how EXIM Bank and WEGG are clearing the path for women to take on the world.


Upcoming WEGGinar Feb 7Note: Don’t miss our next WEGGinar™ 2/7/18 on “Dare to Be Bold!  Here’s How” and presented by CamMI Pham, Partner, ThinkRenegade. Register here. Event is free of charge but you must register in advance to attend.

Super Success: The WEGG+ICNC Export Workshop Held at KOVAL Distillery

Thank you to all who attended our super successful WEGG+ICNC Export Workshop hosted at KOVAL Distillery in Chicago, September 19, 2017. Participants learned what it takes to successfully sell products overseas. The photos are for your enjoyment.

We are already at work planning our next on-the-ground WEGG workshop — stay tuned.  Meanwhile, thank you to our sponsors:  UPS, IBM and BAL.  Without their support, this program would not have been possible.  And thank you to all of you for your continued interest, support and enthusiasm to our mission.

Up next?  See below.  Learn insights from expert Stephanie Lewin on what you can and can’t do on global business travel these days.

Note: Don’t miss our next WEGGinar™ 10/11/17 on “Navigating Global Business Travel in 2017,” and presented by Stephanie Lewin, Global Immigration Attorney at Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP (  Register here:
Event is free of charge but you must register in advance to attend.

What Do Women and Whiskey Have in Common With Going Global?

What do women and whiskey have in common with going global?  Plenty. Because our next on-the-ground WEGG event takes place at the famous KOVAL Distillery in Chicago on Tuesday, September 19 from 9:30 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. Central time where Dr. Sonat Birnecker Hart will talk about “The Top 3 Export Lessons Learned from a Chicago Distillery.”  The program also includes a tour of KOVAL Distillery.

Dr. Birnecker Hart is owner and president of Chicago-based KOVAL Distillery, and has spearheaded product development, distribution, and marketing. With over 50 awards, including gold medals on both sides of the Atlantic, KOVAL is considered one of America’s leading craft distilleries. Recently earning the title, Illinois Exporter of the Year, KOVAL has demonstrated a focus on international distribution and growth abroad with availability throughout the EU, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Japan, South Korea, and in the coming months, Taiwan and China.

The event is hosted by Women Entrepreneurs GROW Global (WEGG) and in collaboration with ICNC/SBDC.  WEGG thanks its sponsors for making this educational program possible:  UPS, IBM and BAL.

To learn more and to register (it’s not too late … a few seats left), visit:

We look forward to seeing you there!

Note: Don’t miss our next WEGGinar™ 10/11/17 on “Navigating Global Business Travel in 2017,” and presented by Stephanie Lewin, Global Immigration Attorney at Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP (  Register here:
Event is free of charge but you must register in advance to attend.

5 Answers to Exporting Craft Spirits Worldwide

In follow up to our March 8 WEGGinar™ on “Regulations, Conventions, and Battles of the Spirit: The International Trade of Craft Spirits” with Dr. Sonat Birnecker Hart (pictured), President and co-founder of Chicago, Illinois-based KOVAL Distillery, we circled back with Sonat to address five remaining questions that attendees had.  Here are her answers.

1.  Are there certain countries where you have chosen not to export your spirits and why?

Yes.  South America … but only for the time being.  There is too much cross trade there and a need for special closures which we do not want to have to deal with now.

2.  Do you need to translate labels to bilingual in certain markets?

Yes, Canada is a good example of that.

3.  How do you vet appropriate trade shows for a product line, especially with the intent to locate good distributors?

One needs to see where the most buyers are going. Trade shows that focus on consumers are not usually the best for expanding distribution business. ProWein is probably the best liquor trade show in the world, so that is a good place to start. For the US, the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America Annual Convention is good; WSWA:

4.  With all of your travel for various purposes, what do you do about obtaining visas? Do you obtain business visas or work permits?

It really depends on the situation. Just to attend a trade show in another country it is not really necessary.  I declare samples for business and state that I am traveling for business but even so, I have not had any issues and on my last trip to Canada, they did not even charge me duty on my samples and just waved me through.

5.  Thank you for the great presentation.  I hope to learn more about export licenses.  Meanwhile, where can I start? Is it similar to beer exporting?

Exporting liquor is different than beer. It really depends on the country as each one has different regulations. Having a distributor that is interested in working with one is the best first step. They can help guide one toward what is needed and one can also ask via trade missions.

Thank you Sonat for sharing your expertise with us.  And we are thrilled to learn that you and Robert Birnecker were recently honored with the SBA 2017 Illinois Small Business Persons of the Year award.  On behalf of all your WEGG fans, congrats! We are very proud of you and Robert.


Note: Don’t miss our next WEGGinar™ 4/5/17 on “Even a Small Business Can Be Global,” and presented by Natalie Kaddas, CEO, Kaddas Enterprises Inc. Register here:
Event is no charge but you must register in advance to attend.


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Our mission is to educate, inspire and nurture women business owners and entrepreneurs worldwide on how to go global so they can run healthier businesses and create a new future for themselves, their families and their community.

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