Federal support for 2SLGBTQ+ entrepreneurs announced in Kingston

‘The first program of its kind in the world’

Image by: Asbah Ahmad
Small business Minister Mary Ng made announcement along with Darrell Schuurman, CEO of CGLCC.

After 10 years based in Toronto, this year’s annual Global 2SLGBTQ+ Business Summit and Supplier Diversity forum summit held by the Canadian 2SLGBTQ+ Chamber of Commerce (CGLCC) made its way to Kingston.

The summit, held from June 14 to 16 at the Kingston Holiday Inn, is tasked with bringing together Canada’s leading businesses and changemakers, while connecting 2SLGBTQ+ community members within the space.

$25 million of funding going towards an LGBTQ+ entrepreneurship programme was announced at the Summit by Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development Mary Ng.

“Much of the work we have been doing has been about creating an economy that works for all Canadians,” Ng said during the announcement. “Inclusive growth is smart economic growth.”

According to Ng, there are 10,000 2SLGBTQ+ owned businesses employing 400,000 workers and generating over $22 billion in economic activity in Canada.

The Federal Government developed the $25 million scheme after assessing barriers faced by 2SLGBTQ+ individuals when developing businesses. Critical among these barriers was two in five queer business owners facing difficulty accessing capital and secure loans, which impacts their ability to find mentors.

According to Ng, discrimination impacts at least a quarter of 2SLGBTQ+ business owners.

“It pains me that some of you might be among the quarter, who have either faced discrimination, or have lost business opportunities, by virtue of being you. We can’t accept this,” Ng said.

The entrepreneurship program will have three components: a business scaling program, an ecosystem fund, and a knowledge hub. The program aims to connect 2SLGBTQ+ business owners and collect information on the gaps in support 2SLGBTQ+entrepreneurs.

The program will be run by the CGLCC. Schuurman said eligibility will be determined using the same verification system CGLCC uses for certifying 2SLGBTQ+ owned businesses.

The CGLCC came to Kingston to expand its reach outside of Toronto—and because of the many Kingston small businesses that have gone through CGLCC’s rainbow registered accreditation program, according to Co-Founder Darrell Schuurman.

Rainbow registered businesses are certified as being welcoming to the 2SLGBTQ+ community.

Despite cities like Kingston becoming more inclusive, Shuurman said the 2SLGBTQ+ community is under attack and credits CGLCC with advocating for inclusion from a business lens.

“Exclusion is not an economic driver. Companies, governments, communities, school boards, anyone that impedes inclusion is constraining economic growth for this country,” Schuurman said. “Exclusion constraints economic growth. Inclusion, on the other hand, has a positive impact.”

Major sponsors supported the summit, including TD, Ernst & Young, Via Rail, Sunlife, along with others. Taking an intersectional approach at the start of the Summit, Pytor Hodgson, CEO of Three Things Consulting and a self-identified two spirit person from Kingston, stated the importance of understanding the role of Indigenous lands and the relationship between queer oppression and Indigeneity.

“Indigenous people can be your market, but they can also be your employees, they can be on your boards, they can be advisors, they will help strengthen your work,” Hodgson said. “Interestingly, [among] LGBTQ+ communities, the same thing is occurring around entrepreneurship.”

Pride celebrations such as the Kingston Pride Parade are expected to take place over the weekend. Minister Ng said local Member of Parliament Mark Gerretsen will be in attendance, and he is advocating for the 2SLGBTQ+ community in Kingston.


Business, Canadian politics, funding, LGBTQ+, small businesses

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