Thalyne is a bisexual woman from Manaus, the capital of Amazonas, in the north region of Brazil, where there is little support for the LGBTIQ+ community. She applied for Micro Rainbow International Foundation’s 9th training in early 2022 hoping to improve the management of her business, Dona Bicha, which sells a variety of LGBTIQ+ themed products such as cans, t-shirts, clothes, stamps, notebooks etc. She launched an online store in 2021 after realizing that there was not a single store in Manaus selling such products. Although they could be purchased online from several websites, the prices were often very high due to shipping costs to that region. Thalyne’s outstanding performance in the training and the submission of a great business plan, meant she was given a small seed-funding grant of R$1600 to inject into her business.
Most of the investment was used to produce items for the company’s new catalogue and the rest was allocated to a sewing course which allowed her to build stock and guarantee the company’s stability without having to rely on external suppliers. Such reliance was one of her business’ main challenges and on the Micro Rainbow training she learnt that it would be safer and more profitable if she learnt how to sew and produce herself the items she was buying externally. She also decided to participate in small business fairs and bazaars to showcase her new catalogue, which gave her greater visibility and motivated her to open a physical store in June 2022.
Within 2 months of launching her new catalogue and participating in fairs, she earned approximately R$1719, 3 times the amount allocated from the seed-funding to create the catalogue. After opening the physical store and increasing her customers, Thalyne began to earn an average of R$3000 a month, 3 times the amount she was earning from her online store. She also increased her followers on social media and was invited to participate in several events for the LGBTQI+ community and share her experience as an entrepreneur and talk about the challenges to improving queer livelihoods.
Expanding her business
Eager to learn strategies to make her business grow, Thalyne applied for Micro Rainbow International Foundation’s 2nd Acceleration Programme, held in partnership with Meta and Aliança Nacional LGBTIQ+ in late 2022. She found the programme extremely useful: “It allowed me to meet more experienced entrepreneurs from other parts of Brazil and learn about their struggles and challenges. I also improved my business skills and established professional collaborations”.
In the meantime, she noticed a growing interest in creating a small business fair aimed at LGBTQI+ entrepreneurs in Manaus. After participating in events and increasing her business networks, other entrepreneurs approached her and became interested in fostering LGBTIQ+ entrepreneurship in the city but were still reluctant to do so due to the high level of prejudice and conservatism in the region.
It didn’t take long until she developed a plan to organize the first LGBTQI+ Entrepreneurship Fair in Manaus. Thanks to Micro Rainbow Brasil’s Fairs Fund, established in 2023 to facilitate our beneficiaries’ participation in small business fairs throughout the country, she was able to secure a small investment to run the event.
The first LGBTQI+ Entrepreneurship Fair in the north of Brazil
On 9 June 2023, Thalyne held Empregay, the first LGBTIQ+ entrepreneurship fair in Manaus, offering an inclusive and safe place to support small business owners and foster a creative economy. In addition to Micro Rainbow’s investment, she partnered with Impact Hub – Manaus, where the event took place, and Ambev (Amazonia Brewery), which donated drinks to the entrepreneurs and artists.
Although it was a small event, featuring only 10 businesses, nearly 80 people attended and many important discussions were held on how to increase networking and leverage support for LGBTIQ+ small business owners in the north of Brazil. Thalyne was very pleased with the event as she commented: “It was the first step to bring together LGBTQI+ entrepreneurs in town and encourage them to raise the flag as well. It was also a great opportunity to obtain more growth and visibility for my business Dona Bicha”.
Recently, Thalyne won a grant from Itau Bank and Instituto +Diversidade to expand Empregay in the upcoming months. Her intent is not only to organize a bigger fair, but also increase upskilling opportunities for small LGBTIQ+ entrepreneurs. She is planning some workshops on business management, marketing, and financial education to enable those entrepreneurs to increase their sales and make more profit.
We have no doubt that Thalyne has a very promising and successful career ahead of her which will bring positive changes to her community and other LGBTIQ+ small business owners!