Between May and August 2022, Micro Rainbow International Foundation held its 9th small business training for lesbians, gays, bisexuals, trans and intersex people (LGBTQI) in Brazil. The training was held online to 42 low-income entrepreneurs from 12 Brazilian states (Amazonas, Bahia, Distrito Federal, Maranhão, Minas Gerais, Pará, Paraíba, Pernambuco, Rio de Janeiro, Roraima, Santa Catarina and São Paulo).
A total of 38 students graduated and 22 presented their business plans before an examination board, resulting in the lowest dropout rate (10%). In addition to having more participants from the North of the country and over 40 years old in comparison with our previous trainings, these results are considered very successful, given the large number of people who reported mental health issues, particularly anxiety disorders, as well as lack of decent internet connection (for those living in more remote regions).
Moreover, we awarded 7 successful participants with seed-funding to implement their business plans.
Impacts of the training
The immediate quantitative impacts were:
- 50% reported expansion in their business after the training, increasing services, sales and/or their income.
- 36% are undergoing a restructuring process in their business, as a result of the lessons learnt in the training and are still unable to measure direct results.
- 14% are still in the planning phase, either because they changed the scope of their businesses during the training, or because they had to temporarily suspend their entrepreneurial activities to dedicate to formal employment due to urgent financial needs.
In terms of qualitative impacts, our biggest achievements this year were:
- Increased spread of the project throughout the country, reaching places and regions without initiatives in support of the LGBTQI community. There were participants in remote areas in the North of the country as well those living in rural areas without access to learning and upskilling opportunities to start a small business.
- Greater age diversity, reaching an unprecedented proportion of older LGBTQI people. 14% of participants were over 40 years old and did not feel intimidated by generational limitations and challenges with digital platforms, submitting outstanding business plans.
Other significant impacts include:
- High quality and realistic business plans, especially in terms of financial projection. Challenges with finances and mathematics have always been the biggest barriers for our students, since most of them did not have previous access to financial education. In addition, we noticed that participants were more aware of limitations in their localities and thus designed strategies to tackle complex challenges with distance and logistics.
- Return to in-person sales: many participants started or returned to actively participating in fairs, festivals, and other direct sales opportunities. Micro Rainbow was able to facilitate and fund the participation of some participants in the Feira Diversidade Colorida, an LGBTQI small business fair in the north of Rio organized by a former student from the 5th training.
Most participants revealed that they had very little or no previous learning in business management or financial education and that the training taught them to manage their businesses better and build their confidence as an entrepreneur, allowing them to overcome insecurities and fears. It is also important to note that the new booklet was frequently mentioned in the students’ assessment as a valuable and useful resource which made their learning experience much easier and more pleasant. The material was conceived and inspired by the trajectory of dedication and success of former students, who illustrated the cover and the 15 chapters, promoting a welcoming and realistic atmosphere of identification of participants with their peers and their entrepreneurial careers.
The careful and customized support received from the project team was also highlighted by many as a strong motivation to complete the training. Finally, participants stressed their gratitude in being able to join an inclusive and diverse learning environment which respected their various identities and different types of business and facilitated the establishment of mutual support networks.
“The training was a milestone in my life, I was able to see myself as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community and became more self-affirmed. Learning about my business was a new cycle for me, a new life. But the best part was learning to accept myself, without having to hide my true identity. I heard so many beautiful stories during classes which made me feel much stronger and helped me become a better lesbian, with more self-esteem and more self-assured. THANKS.”
“I had never had access to an initiative like this […]. Being with you resulted in a very positive change in my life, the way I see things. The training made me feel smarter and more alive.”
“I feel like my pains as a lesbian entrepreneur were finally seen and I was able to join a community that really wants to support LGBTQIAP+ people to structure our businesses and succeed. Not only to make a business plan but change our realities and obtain a decent income. It was the first time I participated in an LGBTQIAP+ entrepreneurial initiative, and I saw a lot of difference from other entrepreneurship courses I’ve taken.”
“It meant breaking my own limits and barriers, understanding who I am and what I represent as an LGBTI+ person in search of my own space. It’s my first experience in an environment like this and it was very inspirational and rewarding. In my region, there are no such kind of initiatives, only pride parade and diversity week.”“Here in my region there is no support network for us LGBTQIA, it is very difficult to find opportunities to improve my skills. It was so good to be in a welcoming space and receive support, affection and attention.”