Our mission at Growthink is to support all entrepreneurs regardless of race, ethnicity, age, gender, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, disability, economic status and other diverse backgrounds.
We have created this resource, in addition to other resources such as our simple business plan template for startups, to help LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs acquire the knowledge and resources necessary to achieve as much success as possible for their own business.
On This Page:
Networking, Support & Advocacy Resources for LGBTQ+ Entrepreneurs
The first 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.
A comprehensive list of such organizations is included below.
Lesbians Who Tech is the largest LGBTQ technology company in the business world. This organization works to create a culture of inclusion in the work environment for women, LGBTQ people, and people from any other backgrounds under-represented in technology.
Gay Entrepreneurs Network is a network of LGBTI entrepreneurs and business professionals that strives to connect like-minded individuals and develop collaborations. GEN is a private Facebook group that requires permission to join. By becoming a member, you can connect with other LGBTI entrepreneurs to ask any questions you might have and discuss business tactics and strategies.
Reaching Out is a nonprofit organization that encourages and empowers LGBTQ MBA students and graduates to impact change in the workplace. Through its year round events, this organization aims to connect and educate LGBTQ MBA students and alumni. They hold the Reaching Out LGBTQ MBA & Business Graduate Conference (also known as the ROMBA Conference) that provides future LGBTQ leaders from around the world the opportunity to network, learn, and improve their skills so they will emerge stronger and more confident in the business world.
Out Professionals is a non-profit networking organization for LGBTQ+ professionals. They are committed to advancing the careers of LGBTQ+ professionals through hosting networking events and other career-building programs. Through registering to become a member of Out Professionals, you can build relationships with other like-minded entrepreneurs.
The Lesbian Business Community is a lesbian-owned and LGBT-friendly business directory for both businesses themselves and those seeking to support LGBT opperated businesses. The LBC provides online exposure for business owners and connects LGBT run businesses with new customers. They strive to get their members communicating with each other, sharing ideas and building their businesses.
Out in Tech aims to unite the LGBTQ+ tech community by creating opportunities for their members to advance their careers and grow their networks. With 16 chapters and 40,000 members, Out in Tech connects LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs and hosts events to bring the LGBT business community together.
OutBuro works to connect LGBTQ business owners and entrepreneurs with opportunities to grow both their careers and companies. They help their members through creating professional profiles, as well as opportunities to exchange ideas and come up with business decisions amongst a network of trusted LGBTQ+ professionals. Businesses of all sizes, anywhere around the world can join OutBuro, making it a credible platform with multiple perspectives.
BEQ Pride serves as a communication platform for the LGBTQ+ community through connections to the world’s largest brands, employers, organizations and allies. They are a flagship publication by the Business Equality Network (BEQ), which is dedicated to empowering the LGBTQ+ and other underrepresented business communities. Their platforms include print and digital affinity publications for diverse communities including the LGBT community, mobile and digital channels dedicated to business programming for a diverse audience and long-form content and advertisements in national radio programs focused on business equality issues and interests.
Funding Opportunities & Resources for LGBTQ+ Entrepreneurs
According to VC firm Backstage Capital, a venture capital fund that invests in startups created by underrepresented individuals, less than 1% of U.S. deals go in favor of LGBTQ business owners. With this in mind, it is essential that you have reliable funding resources as a startup.
Below are some resources specific to LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs and business owners.
Debt, Venture Capital & Other Equity Funding
Below are several sources of debt and funding for LGBTQ business owners and entrepreneurs.
Backstage Capital provides venture capital to underrepresented founders such as women, people of color and LGBTQ individuals. Since its founding in 2015, Backstage has invested over $20 million in 200 companies. They are aware of the lack of venture capital deals going to LGBT founders, and see investing in LGBT entrepreneurs as a great opportunity.
Diversity VC is a non-profit partnership that advocates for diversity and inclusion in venture capital. All decisions made by VCs are filtered through the entire community to ensure all opinions and views are included in decision making.
LGBT Capital solely focuses on the LGBT Consumer segment as an investment sector. They have created and developed a LGBT Diversity Investment Index with an Institutional Investment methodology as well as statistics and research that display the potential of the LGBT Consumer segment. LGBT Capital works with various LGBT businesses to help and support their investment plans.
Unpopular Ventures is dedicated to investing in companies before they become popular. They recognize that many of the most successful businesses weren’t popular as startups, and believe that there is great value in investing in these unpopular companies early on. Unpopular Ventures partners with teams that pursue unpopular ideas, create new markets and think outside the box.
500 aims to discover and back the world’s most talented entrepreneurs, help them build successful companies at scale, and foster thriving global ecosystems. In recent years, 500 has committed itself to diversity and inclusivity amongst the LGBTQ+ community. They have launched the LGBTQ Syndicate to encourage people in the LGBTQ business community to participate as angel syndicate backers. 500 also launched the Rainbow Round, a monthly meeting series to connect members of the LGBT tech community.
Reach Capital is a venture capital firm that is committed to supporting minority-led startups focused on educational issues. They have successfully supported over 50 startups, creating useful educational tools and tactics.
Republic seeks out diverse entrepreneurs of all races and genders to invest in. They allow anyone to invest in vetted private startups. Republic is highly selective in the startups that they choose to select, and they focus specifically on the dedication, diversity and experience of the founders that they do select.
Gaingels is a top LGBTQIA+/Allies investment syndicate, and is one of the largest private investors in North America. They co-invest with other venture capital firms to support the LGBT community and promote social progress through investing in businesses with LGBTQ+ management. Gaingels is dedicated to representing the LGBTQ+ community and allies within the business and investment community.
Pipeline Angels is a community of investors that is committed to changing the face of angel investing for women and non-binary femme entrepreneurs. Through building a diverse community of angel investors, Pipeline Angels has ensured inclusive deal flows for startups. They have invested over $7 million in over 90 companies, and have also developed a diverse network of 400 founders and angels. Pipeline Angels also hosts their Pitch Summit programs which allows women and non-binary femme entrepreneurs to present their for-profit social ventures.
The Small Business Administration (SBA) network of LGBTQ+ businesses provides access to the U.S. Small Business Administration programs and services. Through this, the network focuses on empowering the LGBTQ business community by directing outreach and inclusion.
Excel Capital is a proud partner and supporter of the LGBTQ+ community and can aid in finding the right loan for your business. Their website provides information on loan options specific to minorities: people of color, women, LGBTQ+ individuals, etc. Excel Capital can help guide you through the process of obtaining a loan.
AngelList is a website catered to startups, angel investors, and job-seekers looking to work at startups. It’s platform is ideal for an LGBTQ+ technology company, as it connects job seekers and investors to LGBTQ+ companies with the intention to help startups with the challenges they may face in fundraising. With AngelList, you can raise funds as well as fill job positions for your business.
Unconventional Ventures is a Nordic stage early-stage investment firm that invests in scalable tech startups at the pre-seed/seed stage founded by women, LGBTQ+ individuals and other underrepresented groups targeting global market opportunities. They offer expanding economic opportunities, and believe that underrepresented founders are able to build companies by solving problems that are often overlooked as market opportunities.
Below are several sources of grants for LGBTQ+ businesses and LGBTQ small business grants.
The David Bohnett Foundation has contributed over $120 million in grants to socially active organizations. Shown through their small business grants, the foundation is committed to promoting social activism and LGBTQ equality. The David Bohnett Foundation has an entire section on their website dedicated to LGBTQ+ business grants, with grants themselves ranging from $500 to $10,000.
The Coca-Cola Foundation is dedicated to supporting the sustainability of communities globally and empowering underprivileged people, such as LGBTQ+ individuals. Every year, the foundation gives back 1% of their prior years operating income. Since its establishment in 1984, The Coca-Cola Foundation has awarded more than $1 billion in grants.
American Association Of University Women Career Development Grant provides funding for women who hold a bachelor’s degree and are planning to either advance or change their careers, specifically in the fields of education, health, medical sciences and social sciences. AAUW primarily focuses on providing grants to minorities such as women of color and LGBTQ+ individuals, as well as those pursuing their first advanced degree in nontraditional fields. The grants range between $2,000 and $12,000 depending on needs.
Open Meadows Foundation seeks out projects rather than companies that promote gender, racial and economic empowerment. Their funding primarily focuses on encouraging leadership from women and girls. Open Meadows also has a $2,000 grant available specifically for projects that contain a diverse staff, which works in your favor if you’re looking to hire other LGBTQ+ individuals.
Arcus Foundation is a global advocacy group that focuses on organizations that promote LGTBQ equality and social justice. In 2020, more than $13 million was awarded to organizations that are centered on this cause.
Astraea Lesbian Foundation For Justice supports lesbian, trans, intersex and all LGBTQ+ groups that promote racial, gender, and economic empowerment. They work to ensure that resources reach activists who need them the most. Astraea provides four different grant programs: U.S. Funds, International Funds, Intersex Funds and Global Arts Funds. Each of their grants are different, but generally they range from $5,000 to $30,000 per year.
Ford Foundation invests in transformative ideas, individuals and institutions. In 2014, the foundation established the LGBTQ Racial Justice Fund ,supporting the leaders in communities of color who are committed to strengthening the rights of LGBTQ+ people. Ford FOundation offers several different types of grants and seeks out businesses working to advance social justice.