Discrimination and disadvantage have been the norm, but that is beginning to change.
Do you own a business and identify as part of the LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs ? If yes, you know that discrimination is always present and that there is not always legal protection. The LGBTQ+ community also struggles with financial instability, experiencing particularly high rates of poverty and homelessness, as well as lower incomes compared to the general population.
Of course, though, you can be successful as an LGBTQ+ business owner, and here are seven useful financing options that exist in the United States that we can learn from.
1. National LGBT Chamber of Commerce
In the United States, the National LGBTQ+ Chamber of Commerce ( NGLCC ) is a national organization that serves as a voice for one million LGBTQ+ homeowners, as well as offering a certification program for most LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs.
They also have a Diversity Initiative (SDI), a tool for businesses to connect with large corporations, government agencies and other certified businesses. This body certifies lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender business enterprises, seeking opportunities for them to have greater exposure in government and corporate procurement processes.
2. Local Chambers of Commerce
In the United States, entrepreneurs can tap into the resources of their local chambers of commerce, as the National Chamber has offices in 30 states and the nation’s capital. These offices connect them with local businesses and resources, including banks.
3. Community Development Financial Institutions
These institutions are private organizations that focus on loans and credits for vulnerable groups. Banks, accelerators, credit unions and investors come in here.
4. Angel investors
Does your business have great growth potential? If yes, angel investors may be interested. In the United States, Gaingels co- invests with other firms to influence social progress through investments in companies with LGBTQ+ leadership. They also invest in growing businesses that can influence the influx of LGBTQ+ talent into leadership positions.
There is also the firm Pipeline Angels, which invests in non-binary women and entrepreneurs. O Republic, a firm that focuses on diverse entrepreneurs of all genders, offering opportunities outside of California and New York.
5. Small Business Administration
The SBA supports a network of LGBTQ+ businesses in hopes of furthering the economic empowerment of the community and providing access to its programs and services. Several district offices have strategic alliances with the LGBTQ+ community.
Photo: StarOut via Instagram
StartOut is an NGO serving LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs and businesses seeking to increase the number, diversity, and impact of business owners. Its events include educational opportunities, networking and award ceremonies.
The StartOut Rising program extends the NGO’s reach to cities where they are not yet present and offers LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs the opportunity to network through MeetUp.
7. Other diversity programs
Beyond the NGLCC’s diversity initiative, there are other places where if you’re part of the LGBTQ+ community and you own a business, your business is considered diverse. In 2015, Massachusetts became the first state to include LGBTQ+ owned businesses in its diversity program.
Marriott has a diversity program for its suppliers that includes LGBT+ in the very definition of diversity. Ditto Ford and IBM. According to the Human Rights Campaign report, 193 of the Fortune 500 also have this type of program.
Bonus Tip: Traditional Financing
LGBTQ+ owners can, and should, always seek the same type of financing as any other business. The options are among banking entities, investment firms, crowdfunding, etc. Many providers will open their portfolios to companies that meet certain criteria, such as having good business credit.
In Mexico, there is the Mexican Federation of LGBT+ Entrepreneurs and it works for a Mexico with equal opportunities for all people. The FMELGBT is the official and non-profit organization that gives voice and visibility to corporations, businessmen, entrepreneurs, professionals and talent who identify themselves as part of the LGBT+ community and works together for the economic empowerment of the sector through the linking LGBT+ suppliers, multinational corporations, government entities and civil society organizations to generate business opportunities, promote standards, policies and regulations in favor of inclusion and diversity in the economic and labor spheres.
As times continue to change, there is a much greater chance that there will be more and more funding opportunities and that LGBTQ+ owners can finally make it in the same field as their peers.