Empowering queer women in business with QWB + Allies

This LGBT+ History Month, we’re hosting a Twitter takeover with our friends at QWB + Allies, an organisation dedicated to empowering and advancing queer African women in business through access. We spoke to Joslyn Links, Operations Lead at QWB+A, to find out why the need for their work is so pressing and how they are creating opportunities for LGBTQIA+ women.

Join us for QWB + Allies’ Twitter takeover on Wed 24th Feb from 12-1pm (GMT)!

Why queer women?

Violence and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, identity and expression remain rampant in large parts of the world and specifically in South Africa. As a result, a disproportionate percentage of queer community members drop out of school, stay in (or re-enter) the closet in the workplace, face bullying and in general are disenfranchised.

Women earn on average 27% less than males and are underrepresented as founders and leaders across most industries. For example, only 4.5% of startup deals since 2018 involved female founders. The number is unknown for queer women. This issue exacerbated by the fact that queer women in the upper echelons of society are often by and large invisible with limited to no “out” role models in leadership.

Why queer women in business?

Small businesses are the ‘life blood’ of the South African (and African) economy with a projection that 9 out of 10 new jobs will be generated by micro, small and medium enterprises. With regards to queer women in business, the resulting economic loss of our exclusion has been documented in a number of studies, with economies missing out on billions of dollars each year, not to mention the impact on human livelihoods and on the well-being of queer families and communities.

“From a survey conducted with 500+ queer womxn entrepreneurs, we discovered that “48% stated LBTQ+ discrimination as a key barrier to starting and running their businesses. 90% of them do not have adequate access to business capital and sufficient business development resources or like-identifying mentors to guide them.” Our vision is to make equitable access to business opportunities a norm for all African LBTQ+ womxn entrepreneurs.”

How does QWB + Allies empower queer women in business?

We are a queer-led womxn led and driven community that’s advancing African queer womxn entrepreneurs through providing access to network, business coaching, business resources and access to funding. Since our inception, we have connected 1000+ African queer womxn in business, which has resulted in the increased visibility and representation of our LBTQ+ womxn in business. Through our Startups Pitch Challenge program, we have accelerated 56 queer womxn owned businesses and provided funding for 12 of them, creating opportunities for follow-on funding and business contracts. This has ensured the employment and livelihood of 100 – 1100 people during the global pandemic. Aligned with our vision, our goal is to execute programs that create a supportive, sustainable startup ecosystem of queer womxn entrepreneurs in order to ensure the advancement of and economic justice for all LBTQ+ womxn.

Find out more about QWB + Allies on their website.

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