Canada invests $25 million in a new program to address barriers for 2SLGBTQI+ entrepreneurs

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The initiative will provide capital, business advice, resources, and mentorship.

As Pride month events are underway, the Government of Canada is investing $25 million to establish an entrepreneurship program focused on supporting 2SLGBTQI+ business owners.

Administered by Canada’s 2SLGBTQI+ Chamber of Commerce (CGLCC), the 2SLGBTQI+ Entrepreneurship Program is meant to address the barriers that 2SLGBTQI+ entrepreneurs face in growing their businesses and build a more inclusive economy for the more than 100,000 2SLGBTQI+-owned and –operated businesses in Canada.

CGLCC was formerly called the Canadian Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. Though it has since rebranded, the organization retained the acronym from its previous name.

In 2019, only 0.5 percent of all funding for startups went to LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs.

The acronym 2SLGBTQI+ is what the government and CGLCC use to refer to people that identify with the following communities: 2S for Two-Spirit people, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex.

Entrepreneurs who identify as 2SLGBTQI+ often experience added obstacles in growing their businesses due to discrimination against their identities.

CGLCC and Deloitte conducted a survey in 2021 and it found that 20 percent of 2SLGBTQI+ entrepreneurs said they face business problems because they were members of the community. One of the top issues cited was difficulty accessing financing.

A 2019 index by StartOut found that only 0.5 percent of all funding for startups went to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer+ entrepreneurs.

This new federal 2SLGBTQI+ entrepreneurship program aims to support 2SLGBTQI+ entrepreneurs by providing capital, business advice, resources, and mentorship.

The 2SLGBTQI+ Entrepreneurship Program is made up of three main components. One is the Business Scale-up program, which will provide funding to strengthen the capacity and program delivery of the CGLCC.

Specifically, the federal government said that the Business Scale-Up component will help implement a national mentorship program, enhance access to corporate procurement opportunities, support 2SLGBTQI+ businesses in becoming “export ready,” and develop a pilot for delivering loans to 2SLGBTQI+ entrepreneurs.

RELATED: Montréal-founded QueerTech wants to expand its 2SLGBTQIA+ events across Canada

Another part of the 2SLGBTQI+ Entrepreneurship program is the Ecosystem Fund, which will fund other organizations across the country with the goal of increasing their capacity to support 2SLGBTQI+ entrepreneurs.

Thirdly, the CGLCC will partner with an academic institution in establishing the Knowledge Hub to address gaps in knowledge and data. The CGLCC has not disclosed further details regarding this partnership.

Established in 2003, the CGLCC’s vision is to promote economic growth and prosperity for 2SLGBTQI+ businesses. The CGLCC offers several resources as part of this mission, such as supplier diversity certification, mentorship, global trade opportunities, and capacity-building and development opportunities.

Featured image courtesy Unsplash.

Charlize Alcaraz

Charlize Alcaraz

Charlize Alcaraz is a staff writer for BetaKit.

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