Resources, Funding, and Support for LGBTQ-Owned Businesses

Submitted by Anya Crittenton on
Ivan Samkov

Think of your town and the places you like to shop. Did you think of any small, local businesses? Owned and run by our neighbors, friends, and family, small businesses help color our lives and neighborhood. Unfortunately, one-fifth of all US small businesses close within a year due to a lack of funds and support. Obstacles are more ubiquitous for diverse-owned businesses, including BIPOC-owned, women-owned, and LGBTQ-owned businesses. That’s why funding and resources are imperative for small businesses with diverse leadership. 

Across the country, there are 1.4 million LGBTQ American small business owners, adding $1.7 trillion to the economy and creating your favorite hair care products, coffees, pet supplies, and beyond, but they’re struggling.  

A majority of at least partially owned LGBTQ businesses self-report their financial condition as “poor” or “fair,” with one-half operating at a loss, compared to a third of small businesses with no LGBTQ ownership, according to Federal Reserve Banks’ 2023 Small Business Credit Survey

The following resources and funding opportunities for LGBTQ-owned businesses can help keep these businesses open and inspire more diverse entrepreneurs to pursue their small business dreams. 

Funding for LGBTQ-Owned Businesses 

With funding options like loans being denied to LGBTQ owners more often than non-LGBTQ businesses owners, grant and investment opportunities tailored to this community are critical. The following list gathers several of these opportunities for ease of access: 

  • Backstage Capital: Funds diverse-owned businesses, currently funding 200 companies and counting. 
  • The David Bohnett Foundation: Awards grants to “socially active” businesses, including exclusive grants for LGBTQ leaders. 
  • Pipeline Angels: Funds business owners who identify as trans women, cis women, nonbinary, two-spirit, agender, and gender non-conforming, and hosts an annual summit for founders of for-profit organizations with a social and/or environmental mission. 
  • StartOut: Has raised over $1.27 billion for LGBTQ-owned businesses and invested in over 1,270 companies. 
  • Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice: Offers grants to US and international businesses; each company “must present a project that works with and on behalf of queer, transgender, and intersex populations on climate justice, environmental racism, or weather and disaster resilience and adaptation.” 
  • Queer to Stay: Operated by the Human Rights Campaign and network Showtime, this annual grant is awarded to queer- and women-owned businesses. 
  • Transform Business Grant: A $1,000 grant given twice yearly to support entrepreneurs in systemically oppressed groups, including transgender and nonbinary individuals. 
  • The National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) Community Impact Grant Program: Offers $10,000 - $25,000 grants to LGBTQ- or ally-owned restaurants. 
  • National Pride Grant: Awards 25 LGBTQ-owned qualifying businesses a grant of $1,000. 
  • Feed the Soul Foundation: For LGBTQ-owned food businesses or restaurants to receive a stipend and six months of educational training services. 
  • Pepper Startup Grant: A $5,000 grant for businesses owned by Black women or nonbinary people. 
  • Gaingels: Investment organization for companies run by diverse and underrepresented people. 
  • Local Funding: Try searching “LGBTQ business funding + STATE” to find specific grants and loans by location.
A rainbow crosswalk at an intersection with people waiting to cross. LGBTQ-owned
Systemic issues require solutions and help. Credit: Tayla Kohler

Get Out the Word 

One of the biggest challenges for small businesses is simply being known. With unethical, overbearing corporations like Amazon and Target, possessing disproportionate market share, many people don’t discover small businesses unless they’re intentionally looking for them. 

For LGBTQ-owned businesses, connecting with other like-minded enterprises, consumers, press, and more, is survival. 

The below communities and networks offer a space for LGBTQ-owned businesses: 

  • myGwork: Networking hub and job board for LBGTQ+ professionals, students, and allies with over 500,000 members and mentorship opportunities. 
  • The NGLCC: Offers mentoring programs, networking events, scholarships, and business development tools for LGBTQ+ professionals, including a certification. 
  • OutProfessionals: Foremost LGBTQ+ networking organization, with virtual and in-person events across US cities. 
  • Reaching Out: Where LGBTQ+ students, alumni, and professionals to search for and post jobs, network, share company events, and find mentors. 
  • US Small Business Administration: Directs LGBTQ-owned businesses to local offices, where counselors can determine qualifications for resources like the 8(a) Business Development Program or SBA guaranteed loans, and help your business become NGLCC-certified. 
  • Open for Business: Coalition of pro-LGBTQ inclusion businesses that provides reports and data for change, including Local Influencer Programs to build support for inclusion. 

A diverse market is a win-win for everyone, enriching our lives through ethical consumption, narrowing wealth gaps, and social justice. 

If you love to patronize a small business owned by someone in the queer community, consider sharing these resources with them. Small businesses are community institutions, and they only thrive when we come together to support them. 

The Green Business Network is the first and most diverse network of socially and environmentally responsible businesses in the country, home to both rising social and eco enterprises and the most established green businesses around. 

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