20 LGBTI people set up small businesses to step out of poverty in Rio de Janeiro

Group photo

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

According to Grupo Gay da Bahia, nearly 1,600 people have died in hate-motivated attacks in the past four and half years.  An LGBTI person is killed almost every day.  Brazil’s culture of machismo paired with nearly a quarter of Brazil’s population being evangelical Christian and very outspoken in their opposition to homosexuality, creates a hotbed of violence and discrimination toward LGBTI people.

At the end of July 2016, 20 LGBT people completed Micro Rainbow’s training in setting up small businesses.  The training is part of a bigger programme funded by the European Union which supports LGBT people in Rio de Janeiro to improve their skills and set up small businesses as a way out of poverty.

Micro Rainbow’s report on “Poverty of LGBT people living in Rio de Janeiro (4)” shows that poverty affects the LGBT community as much as the rest of the community.  However, when poverty is combined with multiple forms of discrimination, such as gender, race, class, sexual orientation and/or gender identity, it creates a reality of socioeconomic inequality which severely affects the LGBT population.

Sebastian Rocca and Lucas Paoli
MRI’s CEO, Sebastian Rocca and Project Manager, Lucas Paoli

“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, 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 20 LGBT people who chose to fight discrimination and to take their future into their own hands.  We celebrate 20 new small businesses, from plumbing to sushi catering to online recruitment, we could not be prouder.” continues Mr Rocca.

Geisa Garibaldi
Micro Rainbow’s beneficiary Geisa Garibaldi, owner of Concreto Rosa

“I already had Concreto Rosa but I had no idea how to manage it, and only with Micro Rainbow’s training did I learn how to organize my business.  It was worth dedicating my time for this opportunity, which made me grow professionally and personally.  Today, thanks to everything I learned from Micro Rainbow, my work has expanded and the demand for my service has grown”, said Micro Rainbow’s beneficiary Geisa Garibaldi, owner of Concreto Rosa, a company of electrical and hydraulic repairs.

Over the last year MRI has trained over 80 LGBT people in setting up small businesses, has facilitated training opportunities to an additional 20, has recently secured employment opportunities for LGBT people in poverty at the Olympic games and has trained 18 local employers on the barriers faced by LGBT people in the workplace.

What you can do