Entrepreneurship can lead to LGBTI inclusion

At a press conference on 15th August MRI launched a new publication compiling some of the success stories of socioeconomic inclusion and empowerment of LGBT people in the fight against homo and transphobia, due to Micro Rainbow’s poverty reduction activities in Brazil.

At a press conference on 15th August MRI launched a new publication compiling some of the success stories of socioeconomic inclusion and empowerment of LGBT people in the fight against homo and transphobia, due to Micro Rainbow’s poverty reduction activities in Brazil.

Internationally, Brazil projects an image of tolerance and openness, where expressions of sexuality during Carnival are supported. However, when it comes to lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) people’s daily lives, Brazil can be ranked as one of the world’s deadliest places.

According to Grupo Gay da Bahia, at least one LGBT person is murdered every 28 hours in Brazil and nearly 1,600 people have died in hate-motivated attacks in the past five years.

Brazil’s culture of machismo paired with nearly a quarter of Brazil’s population being evangelical Christians who are very outspoken in their opposition to homosexuality, creates a hotbed of violence and discrimination toward LGBTI people which contributes hugely to their situation of poverty and destitution.

Against this dire scenario, Micro Rainbow has been running a project in Rio de Janeiro since 2015 which aims at tackling poverty and the lack of employment opportunities for LGBT people.

Since the project began, MRI has supported more than 160 LGBT people (see the attached infographic). 80 of them have graduated from Micro Rainbow’s four entrepreneurship courses and another 46 have completed free professional training in cooking, fashion and hospitality. Also, MRI has trained 23 institutions in LGBT inclusion in the labour market.

Micro Rainbow’s new publication shows the existing demand for initiatives committed to the socioeconomic inclusion and empowerment of LGBT people in the fight against homo and transphobia. The publication showcases, for example, the stories of:

  • Ana and Geisa, both black lesbians, demonstrate their experiences of entrepreneurship through Fábrica da Preta and Concreto Rosa as a way of affirmation and empowerment;
  • Isa and Geisa entered predominantly male fields, information technology and construction, highlighting the challenges for women in these contexts;
  • Simon, Laylah and Mell share rich experiences of trans vulnerability and empowerment from different locations of speech and activism, using the power of entrepreneurship as a resource to break with the stereotypes and stigmas associated with this population.

At the event MRI also celebrated 31 LGBT beneficiaries who completed the latest MRI small business training and who are in the process of setting up their own small businesses.

“Low income LGBT people in Rio experience discrimination across several aspects of their lives – such as employment, education and family – and additionally, they face regular violence and abuse, at times extreme, such as murder.” says Lucas Paoli, Micro Rainbow’s project manager.

“In a period of economic and political crisis, sustainable actions like Micro Rainbow’s, offer a lifeline to many LGBT people who would otherwise be left behind” says Sebastian Rocca, Micro Rainbow’s CEO.

“On this occasion, we celebrate the determination and the courage of over 160 LGBT people who over the last 2 years chose to fight discrimination and to take their future into their own hands with the support of MRI. We celebrate not only new LGBT owned small businesses, but also hope for a more equal world, at a time when it is most needed” continues Mr Rocca.