Funding, community, and mentorship options for LGBTQ+ business owners
More than one-third of LGBTQIA+ adults experienced discrimination in the past year. For those looking for a more inclusive culture, franchising can be the perfect opportunity for the entrepreneurial-minded to create a workplace environment that welcomes all while also building wealth. However, it’s important to recognize that there are barriers that hold back LGBTQIA+ people from pursuing business ownership:
- Many in the LGBTQIA+ community face discrimination from investors and limited access to funding from traditional networks and connections in their local communities.
- It can be difficult to find mentors and support from existing LGBTQIA+ business owners to help them work through challenges and experiences unique to them.
- Some local communities still hold stigmas around LGBTQIA+ owned businesses making it hard for them to find new customers and grow their business.
As past Chair of the International Franchise Association’s Women’s Franchise Committee, and current member of the PRIDE Council, I’m passionate about breaking down these barriers to increase diversity in franchising. It’s important to share the challenges LGBQT entrepreneurs face, and provide resources to help them overcome obstacles. I encourage you to offer the following resources to your franchisees and candidates interested in joining your system:
FUNDING OPTIONS FOR LGBTQIA+ BUSINESSES
1. Gaingels is an angel investment group focused on helping LGBTQIA+ entrepreneurs get access to funding.
2. Pride Fund is an investment fund that provides capital and support to LGBT entrepreneurs. They focus on companies that are developing innovative technologies or services that are relevant to the LGBT community.
3. Pipeline Angels creates capital for trans women, cis women, nonbinary, two-spirit, agender, and gender-nonconforming founders, and offers bootcamps and a pitch summit.
4. Diversity VC drives diversity, equity, and inclusion through private equity.
5. Backstage Capital invests in founders that identify as women, People of Color or LGBTQ+.
COMMUNITY & MENTORSHIP ORGANIZATIONS FOR LGBTQ+ BUSINESS OWNERS
6. National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) is the largest organization of LGBT-owned and LGBT-friendly businesses in the world. NGLCC provides resources, networking opportunities, and certification for LGBTQ+ owned businesses.
7. LGBTQ Entrepreneurs Facebook Group consists of nearly 2000 entrepreneurs (and those aspiring to be) interested in growing their businesses. It offers education around scaling business and community support to help members.
8. StartOut is a non-profit organization that supports LGBTQ+ business owners through mentorship, networking, and education. They offer a variety of programs and events, including a mentorship program, an accelerator program, and an annual conference.
9. Stanford Executive Leadership Program is a highly-specialized, one-week program for LGBTQ executives.
10. LGBTQ Hub for Small Businesses is an online platform for small business owners offered through the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation to access resources and inspiration to build inclusive workplaces.
11. Hello ALICE! specializes in networking events for LGBTQIA+ entrepreneurs nationwide.
12. OutBuro connects LGBQ+ business owners looking to grow themselves and their companies.
13. Business Equality Magazine is a print and digital publication dedicated to empowering LGBTQ+ and other underrepresented business communities.
Part of creating an inclusive culture is asking for feedback from all your stakeholders. If you aren’t currently surveying your franchisees and your corporate team to help you understand and navigate what they need, let’s talk more. I’m happy to share the standard questions and sample reports from our franchisee and employee surveys and offer insights on how to build a stronger culture using survey results.
Overcoming Barriers to Franchise Ownership for Women and People of Color
Key takeaways from the 2023 IFA Convention for franchisors interested in promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) within their franchise system, including how leading brands are making strides in creating more diversity in their systems.