Grants and Resources for LGBTQIA+ Business Owners

Updated: May 21, 2024

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LGBTQIA+ owned businesses have a variety of opportunities to secure funding for growth, from small business grants to loan programs tailored for unique industry needs. Traditional funding alternatives like small business loans, business credit cards and SBA loans provide foundational support, while innovative avenues, such as venture capital and crowdfunding platforms, introduce dynamic ways to achieve financial sustainability. Each funding option is designed to meet the specific needs of LGBTQIA+ businesses.

Grants for LGBTQIA+ Entrepreneurs

Several small business grants designed to support growth, innovation and community impact across various sectors are available to LGBTQIA+ business owners. These grants, which do not require repayment, help address the unique challenges these entrepreneurs face and promote economic and social enrichment within the LGBTQIA+ community.

Grant
Details
Amount
Eligibility
How to Apply

Supports global LGBTQIA+ rights, focusing on groups promoting social change

$5,000–30,000

Groups working toward progressive social change led by and for LGBTQIA+ communities

Apply online during grant cycles announced on their website

Dedicates resources to projects that enhance LGBTQ+ inclusion and equity

Varies

Projects that work towards a more inclusive and equitable society for LGBTQIA+ individuals

Engage with program officers before applying; details available online

Funds projects addressing violence, stigma and inequality in LGBTQIA+ communities with specific objectives and outcomes

Varies

Organizations aiming to improve society and support the LGBTQIA+ community through activism and social services

Application guidelines and deadlines are available on their website

Supports LGBTQIA+ business owners to foster growth

$25,000 in grant funds to 25 LGBTQIA+ business owners

Must identify as an LGBTQIA+ business owner, have at least one year in business, employ two to 50 people and have an annual revenue of less than $5 million

Submit applications online through the Founders First website

A collaborative initiative by the Human Rights Campaign and Showtime to support LGBTQIA+ businesses affected by economic challenges

Typically $10,000–20,000

Businesses that serve or support the LGBTQIA+ community

Apply online via the Human Rights Campaign website during specified windows

LGBTQIA+ Entrepreneurial Loan Programs

LGBTQIA+ entrepreneurs can benefit from tailored loan programs that cater to the community. These initiatives offer critical financial support and are designed to help overcome the unique funding challenges that LGBTQIA+ businesses can encounter.

Loan Program
Details
Loan Amount
Eligibility
How to Apply

Offers loan programs for certified LGBT Business Enterprises (LGBTBEs), alongside networking and business opportunities

Varies

LGBTBE certification required, demonstrating majority LGBTQ+ ownership

Apply for certification and loans through the NGLCC website

Offers microloans to entrepreneurs lacking traditional bank access, with a no-interest feature

$25–15,000

Open to all, with a focus on those unable to access other forms of credit

Start the application online and fundraise through Kiva’s platform

Provides microloans primarily to women, including LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs, to start or expand businesses

$2,000–15,000

Participation in financial training and the formation of a borrowing group required

Apply through Grameen America by joining a financial training session

Equity Financing for LGBTQIA+ Entrepreneurs

Equity financing can help support the development and expansion of LGBTQIA+ startups by providing capital, strategic guidance and networking opportunities. Some venture capital firms and angel investors focus on empowering LGBTQIA+ businesses with financial support and expert mentorship.

Venture Capital Firms

Venture capital can be instrumental in scaling LGBTQIA+ startups, offering substantial capital, strategic support and mentorship. These firms invest in promising startups, providing resources to help accelerate growth.

Backstage Capital

Backstage Capital invests in high-potential startups led by underrepresented founders, including LGBTQIA+ entrepreneurs. They typically invest between $25,000 and $100,000 in each startup. To be considered, startups should demonstrate scalability and a clear business model. Apply and submit pitches directly through Backstage Capital’s website.

Gaingels

A leading syndicate investing in LGBTQIA+-founded and friendly startups, Gaingels offers investments typically ranging from $250,000 to $2 million, focusing on growth-stage companies. To access funding, companies must have an LGBTQIA+ founder or C-suite executive and demonstrate a commitment to diversity. Prospective companies can apply via Gaingels’ website or through referrals from existing network members.

Angel Investors

Angel investors provide early-stage startup funding, often filling the gap before venture capital can be secured. These investors offer capital, mentorship and access to an extensive network, which can be invaluable for LGBTQIA+ entrepreneurs looking to launch or expand their ventures.

StartOut Growth Lab

StartOut Growth Lab is an accelerator program that offers funding, intensive mentorship and resources to LGBTQIA+ startups. While exact funding amounts can vary, the program provides substantial support to help startups scale. Eligible businesses must be LGBTQIA+ led and at a sufficiently developed stage to benefit from accelerated growth. Applications are accepted online through the StartOut website, with specific cycles for application submissions.

Pipeline Angels

Pipeline Angels is a network of new and seasoned angel investors focusing on creating capital for women and non-binary femme social entrepreneurs, including those from the LGBTQIA+ community. They typically invest $50,000–100,000 in selected startups. Entrepreneurs looking to secure funding must participate in a Pitch Summit, which involves a rigorous selection process detailed on the Pipeline Angels website.

Collaborative Funding Platforms

Collaborative funding platforms can provide LGBTQIA+ entrepreneurs with flexible, community-driven financing solutions that help secure necessary capital and foster community support and market validation.

Kickstarter

Known for helping bring creative projects to life, Kickstarter provides a platform where entrepreneurs can set up a campaign to fund their business or project. This is an all-or-nothing model, meaning funds are only received if the campaign reaches its set goal. Entrepreneurs must create compelling project pages complete with goals, rewards and timelines to attract backers. The typical funding amounts vary widely depending on the project’s scope and appeal.

Indiegogo

Offering a similar approach to Kickstarter but with added flexibility, Indiegogo allows for both fixed and flexible funding options. This means entrepreneurs can keep all funds raised, regardless of whether the full campaign goal is met. Indiegogo is suitable for various projects, including business startups, and provides tools for post-campaign growth.

IFundWomen

Specifically catering to women entrepreneurs, IFundWomen offers a crowdfunding platform with services such as coaching, marketing assistance and networking opportunities. The platform takes a fee of 5% on funds raised, aligning with the standard for many crowdfunding sites. Entrepreneurs can launch campaigns that articulate their business vision and funding needs, aimed at attracting backers who are particularly supportive of women-led businesses.

Fundable

This platform focuses on business ventures, offering rewards- and equity-based crowdfunding options. Fundable is tailored for startups and small businesses looking to raise significant capital, typically starting from $50,000. Businesses interested in Fundable must prepare a detailed campaign that includes an effective pitch, business valuation and equity details if applicable.

Traditional Funding Alternatives

Traditional funding alternatives like small business loans, business credit cards and U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) loans provide essential support for the growth and operational needs of LGBTQIA+ entrepreneurs. These conventional financial solutions help establish a foundation for financial stability and enable business owners to leverage well-established financial products.

Small Business Loans

Commercial banks and lending institutions provide small business loans tailored to company size and needs. Loan amounts and terms vary widely, with eligibility typically based on business credit history, revenue and operational years. Entrepreneurs can apply through banks or online lenders by submitting financial statements and a business plan. You can learn more about small business loans with these MoneyGeek resources:

Business Credit Cards

Ideal for managing cash flow and daily expenses, business credit cards often come with rewards and the ability to build business credit. Applicants need a good credit score and may provide business financial details. Applications are available through financial institutions and online. Varying credit limits are offered based on the applicant's creditworthiness. You can get started by reading MoneyGeek’s resources on business credit cards:

SBA Loans

Backed by the U.S. Small Business Administration, these loans provide favorable terms not typically available from other lending sources. SBA loans can range up to $5 million, with eligibility criteria including business size and purpose, owner's personal credit and the ability to repay. Applications for SBA loans are processed through participating lenders, accompanied by detailed business information and financial records.

Additional Resources

For LGBTQIA+ entrepreneurs seeking comprehensive support, we curated a variety of organizations that provide valuable resources for business development, networking and workplace inclusion:

  • Queer Business Alliance: Offers networking, mentorship and educational workshops tailored for LGBTQIA+ business owners. Entrepreneurs can join through the organization's website to access events and resources.
  • U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s LGBTQ Inclusion Hub: Provides a resource hub with tools and best practices for creating inclusive work environments.
  • Out Leadership: Engages and connects businesses and LGBTQIA+ leaders through global networking events, leadership training and consultancy. Membership details and event schedules are available on their website.
  • Pride at Work: Affiliated with the AFL-CIO, this organization advocates for fair labor practices and offers resources for LGBTQIA+ workers and their allies.
  • Human Rights Campaign’s Workplace Equality Program: Provides resources and consults on LGBTQIA+ inclusion in the workplace, helping businesses adopt equitable practices.

About Nathan Paulus


Nathan Paulus headshot

Nathan Paulus is the Head of Content Marketing at MoneyGeek, with nearly 10 years of experience researching and creating content related to personal finance and financial literacy.

Paulus has a bachelor's degree in English from the University of St. Thomas, Houston. He enjoys helping people from all walks of life build stronger financial foundations.