Free resources for LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs
As a way of affecting social change, many consumers are seeking out businesses that align with their values and ‘voting with their pocketbooks.’ This is great for LGBTQ+ business owners, who are joining forces to support one another and their communities. Here are some free and low-cost resources that can position your LGBTQ+ business for growth, including a new grant program.
National Pride Grant
The LGBTQIA+ National Grant provides 25 grants totaling $25,000 to qualifying businesses. To qualify, the company’s founder must also be the CEO, President or owner, and must identify as LGBTQIA+. Businesses with 2 to 50 employees, that have been in business at least one year are eligible. The deadline to apply is June 6, 2023.
StartOut is the largest non-profit organization for LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs. StartOut supports business founders at any stage, from idea development through established companies, in any industry, as long as the business can scale. At least one founder of the business must identify as LGBTQ+. StartOut Growth Lab, founded in 2017, has accelerated 56 companies that have secured over $500 million in funding and created over 3,400 new jobs.
LGBTQ Chambers of Commerce
There are several chambers of commerce that focus specifically on LGBTQ+ business owners and allies. There is one national organization and some regional ones as well. If you operate in one of these communities, joining the local chamber can be a big boost for your business.
The National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) administers the LGBTBE® Certification, which certifies that your business is majority-owned by LGBT individuals. Businesses that are so certified can collaborate with other accredited businesses, participate in special events and mentorship programs, and display the LGBTBE logo, which identifies them as a certified business.
The mission of the Los Angeles LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce (LAGLCC) is to provide ‘visibility, advocacy, and business development for the LGBTQ and allied community.’ LAGLCC offers a Young Entrepreneurs series to encourage LGBTQ youth who are considering the path of business ownership. Corporate partners include USBank, SoCalGas, Honda, and others.
The Greater Houston LGBT Chamber of Commerce is a group of LGBTQ+ and allied business owners and professionals who, along with their corporate partners, support the development and growth of LGBTQ+ businesses in the Greater Houston area. Corporate partners include Fertitta Entertainment, United Airlines, Comcast, and more.
The Greater Seattle Business Association is the LGBTQ+ chamber for Washington state. The GSBA has over 1,300 members, including LGBTQ+ businesses, allies, corporate members, and non-profit members. The GBSA tagline is, ‘Equality is good for business’. They demonstrate that mission by promoting equality and diversity in the workplace, advocating for civil rights, and promoting LGBTQ+ tourism state-wide. Corporate sponsors include T-Mobile, Salesforce, Kaiser Permanente, and others.
Central Florida Pride Chamber membership includes networking events, the Referral, Exchange Development (RED) networking group, annual business connect event, ability to share offers and post job listings on the chamber website.
The Tampa Bay LGBT Chamber represents over 600 businesses, community groups, and individuals, and its mission is to advance business interests, economic growth, and equality for LGBT and allied businesses. They provide educational opportunities, networking, and community engagement.
La Camera de Comercio LGBTTQ de Puerto Rico maintains a network of companies and professionals that support the LGBTTQ community and its allies. They assist members in applying for SBA funding and also have scholarship opportunities available for students.
The Nashville LGBT Chamber represents over 400 businesses, individuals, and community groups in the Nashville area. The chamber hosts numerous social, networking, and fundraising events and educational programs for entrepreneurs.
The Wisconsin LGBT Chamber of Commerce provides networking opportunities, education, mentorship, and support to LGBTQ businesses and allies. The chamber offers window decals that businesses can use to show they are ‘welcoming and inclusive’ (WI). Corporate partners include US Bank, Harley Davidson, the Milwaukee Bucks, and others.
US Small Business Administration
The SBA offers education and support for all small businesses. Perhaps best known for their 8(a) loan program, which has helped millions of small businesses get off the ground, the SBA has many other resources as well, including educational programs, disaster relief, and more.
However you choose to show your pride in your LGBTQ+ business, make sure you protect it with liability insurance customized for the specific risks your business faces. You can learn more and get a quote at hiscox.com.