In June 2023, Micro Rainbow International Foundation concluded its 10th small business training for low-income LGBTQI entrepreneurs in Brazil. To celebrate the training and eight years of the project, we established a Fairs Fund to support current and former students to participate in small business fairs throughout the country. An anniversary video was also made with very emotional testimonials about the impact of the project on the lives and businesses of many participants.
We received 263 applications for the 10th training from 23 Brazilian states and selected 41 participants from all five regions of the country and the following states: Alagoas, Amapá, Amazonas, Federal District, Maranhão, Minas Gerais, Pernambuco, Rio de Janeiro, Rio Grande do Sul, São Paulo and Sergipe. The selected group was composed of 10 lesbian cis women, 10 gay cis men, 5 bisexuals (cis women), 1 travesti, 5 trans women, 4 trans men and 7 non-binary people. They were working in a variety of sectors, including handicrafts, gastronomy, fashion, music, aesthetics and beauty, arts, doulage, massage, in addition to social projects.
The post-pandemic scenario with certain political, economic and health stability resulted in a more positive and hopeful atmosphere among participants as well as a reduction in serious mental health issues, such as depression, stress, anxiety disorders, which were frequently noticed in the 3 previous trainings. A total of 34 people graduated and 21 presented their business plans. Course dropouts were mostly due to incompatible schedules (new job opportunities, graduate studies etc.), with only one due to mental health issues.
53% of participants reported relevant short-term impact on their businesses, including:
- 7 launched a new product/service within their businesses.
- 4 expanded their businesses.
- 3 opened new businesses.
The other respondents mentioned very positive impact on the reorganization/structuring of their businesses, achievement of professional goals and improvement of business skills. Only one person reported not having had any impact on their business. It is important to emphasize that this impact may be underestimated, as only 19 students responded to the evaluation and we can only assess immediate impact after 2 months of training.
Other relevant qualitative indicators were improved in relation to the previous year, such as the age diversity of participants and outreach to remote areas of the country. In this training, there were 11 participants over 40 years old, which means 27% of the group, double the amount in the 9th training. This is probably because the previous government did not invest at all in social security benefits, leaving older LGBTQI people with urgent needs to guarantee minimum conditions of health and longevity.
In relation to the inclusion of people from the countryside or remote capitals underrepresented in our project, we noticed an increase in participants from extremely conservative localities, without initiatives in support of the LGBTQI community. Many revealed that the training motivated them to overcome unbearable realities of discrimination and marginalization and contributed to an increase in their confidence and prevention of depression, suicide and other mental health issues. It also gave them hope to deal with situations of unemployment, hostility and insecurity.
Over the last two years, we have received increasing demand from our beneficiaries to support their participation in small business fairs, since they are often an immediate income-generating opportunity. That is why we decided to establish a Micro Rainbow Brasil’s Fairs Fund this year. A total of 40 people applied and 20 received small grants to participate in fairs throughout the country, including Feira Diversidade Colorida, organised by a former participant in Rio de Janeiro.
Most participants reported making considerable sales and attracting new clients. Half the participants earned between R$101 and R$300, which is a reasonable income for a one-day fair, and a small portion (11%) earned between R$601 and R$1000.
According to our beneficiaries, their participation in local fairs enabled them to strengthen and promote their own businesses, improve their sales skills as well as put into practice lessons learned from the training. Their reports show that not only did such opportunities generate financial impact but also increased visibility of their businesses and allowed them to connect with other small business owners and improve their professional networks.
Below is a map showing the participants who received the grants and the locations where the fairs took place:
“I already knew things I learnt from other entrepreneurship courses I took before, but the greatest thing about Micro Rainbow’s course, in addition to being very complete, is that the contents were really focused on and adapted to the reality of LGBTQIAP+ entrepreneurs, all staff members belong to our community, which helped me a lot to see myself as an entrepreneur and believe in my business, to be able to structure it and believe that I could keep up with it.”
“My life changed completely after Micro Rainbow. In addition to learning and developing tools to achieve my business goals, the support network was of paramount importance for my development as an LGBTQIAPN+ entrepreneur and connecting with peers improved my physical and mental health when I needed it most!”
“It was a watershed moment in my career. The teachers and monitors were attentive to our doubts and always encouraging us. The psychological support made a huge difference. In addition to being among peers, talking about the same experiences, hardships and difficulties. Incredible.”
“The training taught me to be humble, to love myself, to know how to ask for help, to value my work, to believe that it is possible, to have financial discipline, to realize that the world is not completely lost, that there is still hope, that there are still good people out there…”