by Ingrid Galvez
In response to President Barack Obama’s mandate that federal agencies such as the Small Business Administration be more inclusive in its outreach to LGBT entrepreneurs and small business owners within communities of color. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) partnered with the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) and to launch the first ever LGBT economic empowerment tour for communities of color. The conference tour is an effort to bring focus on the LGBT community’s economic power, innovation and creativity in the small business sphere across the country.
“The LGBT small business community is helping us create an economy built to last. That is why we are proud to partner with the National Black Justice Coalition – an organization that represents the many faces and the true diversity of the movement for full equality,” says Eugene Cornelius Jr., Deputy Associate Administrator for Field Operations at the U.S. Small Business Administration. “Equipped with the necessary resources and tools, LGBT small business owners and entrepreneurs will have access to a wealth of knowledge, opportunity and economic growth.”
In each city, Many Faces One Dream hosts a two day conference and a “Small Business Marketplace”.
SBA and SCORE, a nonprofit association dedicated to helping grow the small business market will provide one-on-one counseling for entrepreneurs and small businesses. Participants select one of two tracks: “Starting Your Business” and “Taking Your Business to the Next Level.” In the first track, seminars provide the key elements of a business plan, loans, marketing, and SBA’s program and services. The second track is geared toward LGBT entrepreneurs that would like to expand and grow their business.
The marketplace’s key components include opportunities to exchange business-to-business products and services information; the SBA and SCORE one-on-one counseling for entrepreneurs and small businesses, the opportunity to learn about various certifications available and how to do business with local, state and federal government.
“Despite the challenges we face, gay and transgender people represent an untapped segment of aspiring entrepreneurs and business owners,” explains NBJC Executive Director Sharon J. Lettman-Hicks. “Rich with ideas and talent, LGBT men and women are creating and leading their own companies. It’s time to expand the conversation from economic security to economic empowerment. It’s time for us to own our power.”
November, National Entrepreneur Month, was celebrated by the National Minority Business Council along with the National Black Justice Coalition NYC Convening Community Partners; Harlem Pride, LGBT Faith Leaders of African Descent and Global Network of Black Pride and the NGLCCNY in support of the Many Faces One Dream conference’s 3rd leg of a 13 city tour across the country. The two day event was attended by over 150 small business owners and future entrepreneurs. NGLCCNY Executive Committee member Ingrid Galvez, Diversity and Inclusion Outreach Chair sat on the Starting Your Own Business panel. Ingrid had the privilege of sharing her story, HR expertise and the importance of having the right players on your team. As well as sharing how the NGLCCNY can be part of the team that helps to further propel businesses. David Riccardi, Supplier Diversity Chair held a session for entrepreneurs and business owners on NGLCC LGBT Supplier Diversity Initiative. David shared why your business enterprise should be LGBT certified and why diverse and fully inclusive supply chains translate to economic development.
“NGLCC is honored to partner with the National Black Justice Coalition and the U.S. Small Business Administration on this groundbreaking initiative for underserved communities,” said Justin Nelson, National Gay Lesbian Chamber of Commerce Co-founder and President. “We are thrilled to serve as a conduit for LGBT entrepreneurs of color to not only get certified and strategically grow their businesses, but also establish valuable business connections across the nation. We look forward to meeting business owners and future business owners in the cities where they live and working with them to build strong and fully inclusive local economies”