15.05.23

Supporting LGBTQI+ Young Entrepreneurs Inclusivity

Zain Ali
Zain Ali Programme and Development Manager YBI

We support our members to network, share and have access to resources that equip them to support all young entrepreneurs, regardless of their background.

What we want to do

With an incredibly diverse network, YBI’s members bring insights from almost 50 countries, each operating in unique cultural contexts. As part of this, YBI is seeking to build knowledge, tools and resources around various aspects of equality, diversity and inclusion that reflect the wide breadth of young people supported by our members.  
 
We support our members to network, share and have access to resources that equip them to support all young entrepreneurs, regardless of their background.   

What we have done 

This year, and as part of our focus on inclusivity within youth entrepreneurship, YBI launched a discovery phase to determine the work needed to be done around increasing resources for supporting LGBTQI+ entrepreneurs.   
 
To launch our work, we sought support from two individuals to help us run a discovery session with our members. Robin, from the Queer Box, a non-binary academic who runs workshops for the LGBTQI+ community and has been involved in activism and policy making since 2010. Their work focuses on gender, sexuality and relationship diversities. Zimkitha Gova, is an advocate for LGBTQI+ economic inclusion in business and entrepreneurship in South Africa and holds a strong network and knowledge on supporting LGBTQI+ entrepreneurs across the African content.  
 
Our session, which was based on both practitioner research and insights from countries including Mongolia, Botswana and South Africa, has highlighted the invaluable opportunity and need to create more resources around supporting LGBTQI+ young entrepreneurs.

Whilst we recognise that barriers of disadvantage come up in any given area of life for a young LGBTQI+ person, our session showed how discrimination for LGBTQI+ entrepreneurs surfaces, particularly within the entrepreneurship and business world. 

What’s next 

We are at an early but exciting stage, and our members show a breadth and wealth of knowledge in spearheading innovative inclusive practices.

The session helped us to highlight some of the key areas in which entrepreneurs face challenges, helping us to identify key areas we can take forward to create initiatives. This included different types of discrimination which, in turn, presented challenges accessing financing and capital, or creating social networks. We also highlighted stories around limited access to resources, such as a lack of mentoring and networking opportunities due to the fear of being outed or being ostracised because of their identities.  
 
Beyond this, we also highlighted legal issues where laws may actively discriminate, diminish or hinder the advancement or protection of LGBTQI+ entrepreneurs. The conversations unpacked complex challenges, but members shared many ideas and initial steps that we can take in the future to further refine our awareness for LGBTQI+ young entrepreneurs. We are at an early but exciting stage, and our members show a breadth and wealth of knowledge in spearheading innovative inclusive practices.  

Our members have shared much enthusiasm and drive to build their respective organisations as safe spaces, inclusive of diverse young entrepreneurs. For example, Mebala Youth Studios have started hosting a Trans Rights Collective to use their office spaces as a sign of both solidarity and to demonstrate that this is a safe space for all.
 
We hope to leverage the determination and drive our members have shown to continue building on this piece of work, and we will take the insights gathered from our first discovery session to continue to design better learning and practice around LGBTQI+ inclusivity.

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