LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs, once faced with systemic barriers and biases, now have access to a growing array of LGBTQ+ grants and resources tailored to support their ventures. These initiatives recognize not only the innovation and creativity that LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs bring to the table, but also the value of diversity in fostering economic growth and development.
Learn about a range of business funding and resources available for LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs, highlighting their importance in creating a more equitable entrepreneurial ecosystem.
LGBTQ business owners contribute $1.7 trillion to the economy, according to the National LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce (NLGCC), but many of these entrepreneurs have difficulty accessing startup capital and other investment funds.
Here are some grant sources intended for LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs and their allies.
This grant provides support for women with a bachelor’s degree who want to progress in or change occupations, notably in education, health, medical sciences, and social sciences. AAUW awards are generally given to women of color and LGBTQ+ people, as well as those seeking their first graduate degree in atypical fields.
The National Pride Grant provides qualified firms with the opportunity to obtain one of 25 LGBTQ+ grant packages worth a total of $25,000. To be eligible for the National Pride Grant, you must identify as an LGBTQIA+ business owner, have been in business for at least one year, employ two to 50 people, and produce less than $5 million in yearly revenue.
The National LGBT Chamber of Commerce’s Community Impact Grant Program is intended to raise funding for LGBTQ-owned or LGBTQ+ ally-owned eateries. The program provides scholarships ranging from $10,000 to $25,000 to restaurants, bars, and cafes that serve food. To qualify, you must show documentation that your business is LGBTQ-owned or associated.
This foundation seeks out projects that promote gender, racial, and economic empowerment rather than companies. Funding from the Open Meadows Foundation is mostly aimed at enabling women and girls to take on leadership roles. Open Meadows also provides a $2,000 award exclusively for projects with a diverse crew.
The Transform Business Grant is a microgrant program aimed to help persons in systematically oppressed groups, such as people of color, formerly incarcerated people, and queer, transgender, and nonbinary people. Grantees receive $1,000 as well as a year-long business planning and development program.
Some organizations are built to provide LGBTQ+ people connections to funding sources such as venture capital funds and angel investors.
Here is a list of some groups that can help.
Backstage Capital is a venture capital firm that has invested in over 200 companies led by underrepresented populations. Their business model strives to provide opportunities for all entrepreneurs from all walks of life.
The David Bohnett Foundation helps a variety of charity organizations, including the LGBTQ+ community. Organizations must aim to better society by advocacy for the LGBTQ+ community program, particularly by campaigning for equal rights and protections for all LGBTQ+ persons. It has given over $120 million in donations to charitable groups.
Excel Capital considers itself an ally of the LGBTQ+ community and can assist in the acquisition of business loans. This website provides information on financing choices for minorities, including LGBTQ+ individuals, and can help businesses navigate the loan application process.
Gaingels is an angel investing group dedicated to assisting LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs in obtaining finance. Its website says Gaingels co-invests with appropriate venture capital leads that are committed to fostering diverse and inclusive teams.
Pipeline Angels is a venture capital firm that invests in transgender, cisgender, nonbinary, two-spirit, agender, and gender-nonconforming founders. This company provides money through a pitch summit, where entrepreneurs present their business ideas in the hopes of winning funding from one of the investors.
Queer to Stay, an annual grant program, is administered by the Human Rights Campaign and the television network Showtime. This initiative provides assistance to small businesses that cater to LGBTQ+ people of color, women, and the transgender community.
The Small Business Administration connects LGBTQ+ businesses to encourage access to SBA programs and services. Through this, the network focuses on empowering the LGBTQ business community by directing outreach and inclusion.
Wellfound, formerly AngelList, is a platform for companies, angel investors, and job seekers interested in working at startups. It links job seekers and investors to LGBTQ+ businesses with the goal of assisting startups with fundraising issues. You can use Wellfound to generate funding as well as fill job openings for your company.
A vital step in starting your business is networking and finding resources that will help your business succeed. As an LGBTQ+ entrepreneur, there are specific organizations out there that you can use.
Here is a comprehensive list of networking, support, and advocacy organizations.
The Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice is a network to help lesbian, trans, intersex, and LGBTQ+ groups that promote economic, gender, and racial justice. They work with organizers that are leading communities to resist injustice and assert their rights, according to the group’s website.
This publication’s site, from the Business Equality Network, says it is committed to reaching out to and empowering LGBTQ+, women, minorities, and other underrepresented, underprivileged, and underutilized business populations. BEQ Magazine has articles and resources for the LGBTQ+ community, with special content for small businesses.
This network of LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs and business professionals seeks to connect and collaborate with like-minded individuals. Gay Entrepreneurs Network connects you with other LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs so you can ask questions and share business techniques and strategies.
This is a database of lesbian-owned and LGBTQ+-friendly businesses for both businesses and those looking to support LGBTQ+-owned businesses. The Lesbian Business Community gives company owners online exposure and links them with new clients.
Originally intended for lesbians, this organization is now accessible to anyone in the IT field who identifies as an LGBTQ+ woman, non-binary, trans, or ally. Lesbians Who Tech works to increase the number of women, people of color, queer, and trans individuals in technology. In addition, the group seeks to raise awareness, promote community, and give employment and educational possibilities, such as coding scholarships.
The NLGCC helps LGBTQ+ business owners create jobs and innovate business solutions nationwide. It offers the only third-party certification for LGBTQ+ businesses in the U.S. If you complete their program and become a Certified LGBT Business Enterprise, it opens the door to a new world of sales, networking, and educational opportunities.
Out & Equal promotes diversity and equality in large businesses. It also provides fellowships and professional development training programs for LGBTQ+ executives, as well as information on workplace inclusivity.
Out in Tech is open to many LGBTQ+ people who work in technology. Education, networking, social gatherings, and a leadership training institute are all part of the group’s mission. Out in Tech also offers volunteer opportunities, such as the Digital Corps, which assists LGBTQ+ groups and activists develop websites.
This organization advocates for LGBTQ+ workplace equality. Out Leadership, in addition to training businesses on how to be more inclusive, provides a global corporate network and programs for LGBTQ+ leadership.
Out Professionals is a non-profit professional networking association for LGBTQ+ people. The group is dedicated to helping LGBTQ+ people advance their professions by sponsoring networking events and other career-building programs.
Pride Network is the world’s largest LGBTQ+ professional network for company owners, entrepreneurs, and professionals. The network’s owner hopes to create a diversified professional community of people wishing to network, make community contacts, get guidance or aid, and locate business opportunities.
The Queer Business Alliance is a coalition of firms, organizations, and entrepreneurs working to advance the queer community in the business world. QBR provides transgender, non-binary, and gender nonconforming entrepreneurs with education, networking, and resources.
Reaching Out connects LGBTQ+ business school students with alumni communities. It hosts several conferences, including Out Women in Business, which brings together LGBTQ+ women in business.
This non-profit assists LGBTQ+ enterprises in accelerating their growth. Among StartOut’s available resources are access to company funding, events, mentorship matching, and a startup accelerator. StartOut has several chapters nationwide but also hosts online events.
The availability of resources and grants for LGBTQ+ businesses marks a pivotal step toward breaking down traditional barriers and promoting equal opportunities.
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