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Access and Equity for 2SLGBTQ+ Businesses in Canada

Canada | 2022

Building on previous research conducted by Canada’s LGBT+ Chamber of Commerce (CGLCC), the goal of this report is to provide insights into the experiences of two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer (and more) (2SLGBTQ+) entrepreneurs in Canada. The report begins with a review of the existing research in this space, followed by an analysis of interviews with 2SLGBTQ+ entrepreneurs. The interviews serve to help draw out common themes in the experiences of entrepreneurs facing structural barriers in their activities.

The report looks at the experiences of 2SLGBTQ+ entrepreneurs within the context of the entrepreneurial ecosystem. An entrepreneurial ecosystem is defined as a set of interdependent actors whose interplay enables productive entrepreneurship. An entrepreneurial ecosystem encompasses a set of conditions at the macro (societal), meso (organizational), and micro (individual) levels. The report explores how entrepreneurs interact with the ecosystem at each of these levels, highlighting the barriers and opportunities that are present. At the individual level, the report explores the motivations and skills of 2SLGBTQ+ entrepreneurs.

In order to provide an account of the lived experiences of 2SLGBTQ+ entrepreneurs in Canada, we conducted semi-structured interviews with entrepreneurs from the 2SLGBTQ+ community. Because research on the 2SLGBTQ+ community is still in the early stages, a qualitative study was necessary to gain a deeper understanding of the challenges faced by 2SLGTBQ+ individuals in the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Specifically, this report seeks to find out:

  • What structural barriers exist for 2SLGBTQ+ business owners in the entrepreneurial ecosystem?
  • What insights can be learned from common practices and policies that support the needs of their businesses?
  • Where are the opportunities for policymakers, funders, and stakeholders to foster equity and inclusion for 2SLGBTQ+ communities? 

The participants interviewed came from both rural and urban communities from across Canada and owned businesses at various stages of development, from small startups to established businesses. The businesses profiled operate in a variety of different industries, ranging from professional services to manufacturing and construction. These interviews helped us to better understand the motivations, values, and lived experiences of 2SLGBTQ+ entrepreneurs.   ii  This report identifies three major themes and eight sub-themes from our interviews with 2SLGBTQ+ entrepreneurs regarding their experiences with starting and running businesses.

These include:

  • Motivations driving entrepreneurial behaviour
    • Identity as core to the business 
    • Undervalued contributions of 2SLGBTQ+-owned small and medium-sized enterprises
    • Advocacy for inclusion and the 2SLGBTQ+ community
  • Barriers to entry
    • Bias and discrimination
    • Access to funding and resources
  • Opportunities for the future 
    • Education and awareness
    • Mentorship and support
    • Access to, awareness of, and inclusion in programs 

The report concludes with a discussion of the barriers and opportunities revealed through the literature review and participant interviews. Specifically, the discussion focuses on experiences of discrimination and challenges in accessing funding. Recommendations are provided at the macro, meso, and individual levels, allowing for more granular implementation. Recommendations focus on strategies to improve supplier diversity, raise awareness of existing programs and services, and improve access to incubators, capital funding, networks and mentors, and funding opportunities. 


May 2022


Access and Equity for 2SLGBTQ Businesses in Canada