New program for 2SLGBTQI+ entrepreneurs launched by Canada

 New program for 2SLGBTQI+ entrepreneurs launched by Canada

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The Canadian government has announced an investment of CA$25 million to establish a new program for 2SLGBTQI+ entrepreneurs. This pioneering initiative, claimed as the world’s first-ever by the government, aims to address the unique challenges and barriers these individuals face in the business world face.

Led by the Canadian Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (CGLCC), the program will provide essential resources, networks, and mentorship opportunities for 2SLGBTQ+ entrepreneurs, promoting a more inclusive and diverse economy.

More than 100,000 businesses in Canada are 2SLGBTQI+ owned and operated. They are estimated to generate economic activity exceeding CA$22 billion and employ over 435,000 Canadians. Despite this significant contribution, a fourth of the entrepreneurs have reportedly suffered discrimination or business loss due to their 2SLGBTQI+ ownership.

“2SLGBTQI+ entrepreneurs make incredible contributions to our communities and to our economy, employing nearly 500,000 Canadians. The 2SLGBTQI+ Entrepreneurship Program adds another key building block to the foundation of a more inclusive economy and society. With strategic investments to address systemic barriers, we are creating a program that will deliver the resources, tools and data for more Canadians to succeed both at home and abroad.”

The Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development

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What is the new program for 2SLGBTQI+ entrepreneurs?

The CGLCC (Canada’s 2SLGBTQI+ Chamber of Commerce) will administer the program. The program has three components: the Business Scale-Up program, the Ecosystem Fund, and the Knowledge Hub.

  1. The Business Scale-Up program will enhance the capacity and program delivery of the CGLCC. The CGLCC is the only national 2SLGBTQI+ business-support organization. The program will launch a national mentorship program. It will enhance access to corporate procurement opportunities. Additionally, it will support 2SLGBTQI+ businesses in becoming export ready and develop a pilot for delivering loans to 2SLGBTQI+ entrepreneurs.​
  2. The Ecosystem Fund will increase the capacity of organizations nationwide to support 2SLGBTQI+ entrepreneurs, especially in underserved communities.
  3. Lastly, the Knowledge Hub, a collaboration with an academic institution, will fill the gaps in knowledge and data on the needs and challenges of 2SLGBTQI+ entrepreneurs​.

The 2SLGBTQI+ Entrepreneurship Program is a significant step towards a more robust, competitive economy. It builds on the successes of the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES) and the Black Entrepreneurship Program (BEP). Both programs have helped thousands of under-represented entrepreneurs reach their business goals. The program also complements the Federal 2SLGBTQI+ Action Plan, which aims to create a more equitable Canada.​

Founded in 2003, Canada’s 2SLGBTQI+ Chamber of Commerce (CGLCC) is a national non-profit organization. It strives for social change by economically empowering the 2SLGBTQI+ community. The CGLCC promotes growth and prosperity for 2SLGBTQI+ businesses. It does this through supplier diversity certification, capacity building, development opportunities, mentorship, and global trade.

Separately, earlier this year, the Canadian government announced an investment of over CA$666,000 for The Gilbert Centre for Social and Support Services, which will bolster mental health support for queer, transgender, and questioning youth.

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The program is part of the federal 2SLGBTQI+ Action Plan

The Government of Canada has taken recent steps specifically to support the 2SLGBTQI+ community. Significantly, it launched the 2SLGBTQI+ Action Plan in August last year.

The Action Plan targets the improvement of 2SLGBTQI+ rights and equality in Canada. Through that, the government is trying to work together with 2SLGBTQI+ groups, organizations, and individuals on this mission.

The Action Plan brings together present and future federal action under a holistic, whole-of-government approach to help improve the lives of 2SLGBTQI+ people. It combines current and upcoming federal initiatives into one comprehensive, whole-of-government strategy on the issue.

Six key categories are the main emphasis of the Federal 2SLGBTQI+ Action Plan, namely:

  • Set 2SLGBTQI+ community action as a top priority and sustain it
  • Advance and bolster 2SLGBTQI+ rights both domestically and internationally
  • Support the resurgence and resilience of Indigenous 2SLGBTQI+
  • Encourage a future that is inclusive of 2SLGBTQI+ by involving everyone in Canada
  • Bolster the use of 2SLGBTQI+ data and research-based decision-making
  • Include 2SLGBTQI+ issues in the activities of the Canadian government

The Federal Government’s reported progress on these fronts can be tracked here.

A historic formal apology by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the House of Commons to the LGBTQ2 communities precedes this Action Plan. Delivered in November 2017, the Prime Minister called it as a “long overdue apology”. He addressed it to LGBTQ2 individuals negatively impacted by “federal legislation, policies and practices that led to their oppression and discrimination”.

Note: 2SLGBTQI+ refers to two-Spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and “plus,” which includes persons who identify as members of communities that are sexually and gender diverse and utilize extra terms.

Also read: BC indigenous communities get CA$5.9M for clean energy & upskilling


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