In honor of LGBTQ Pride Month, every June, we feature some of the amazing LGBTQ-owned businesses that make up our portfolio. Opportunity Fund has a long and proud history supporting the LGBTQ community –as clients, employees, donors and supporters—and it is an honor and privilege to celebrate LGBTQ-owned businesses.
LGBTQ business owners make up 3.7% of small business owners in the U.S.
Although Opportunity Fund is fortunate to work with many LGBTQ-owned businesses, the LGBTQ community is an important underserved community, with high-performing businesses yet barriers to capital still exist. The average revenue for a certified LGBTQ company is $2.5 million, much higher than the majority of small businesses, which report revenues of $1 million or less. Despite this above average performance, LGBTQ business owners often face discrimination and challenges when trying to access capital.
Gay and transgender individuals continue to face widespread discrimination in the workplace
Since identifying as a LGBTQ business can have discriminatory consequences, many LGBT businesses owners are hesitant to disclose their sexual orientation. Of the 1.4 million LGBT-owned businesses in the U.S., only 900 are certified.
“It’s still legal to discriminate (against LGBTQ) in the workplace in 20 states in this country, and though it’s not legal to discriminate in terms of providing credit, I’m pretty sure that’s happening,” said Opportunity Fund CEO and Founder, Eric Weaver. As a result, many LGBTQ business owners are forced to use credit cards to finance their business, as the only available access to financing. “That’s what we’re trying to change,” said Weaver.
One of Opportunity Fund’s LGBTQ clients, Dr. Keely Kolmes, also uses their business to support the LGBQ and TNGC communities. A psychologist, Dr. Kolmes decided to open a private practice so they could specialize their counseling services on sexuality, sexual identity, and gender identity. When student loans kept Dr. Kolmes from qualifying for traditional financing, they came to Opportunity Fund for a loan.
“My experience with Opportunity Fund was great! They were able to look at the greater picture and see I was making a valuable investment instead of turning me away,” said Dr. Kolmes.
With their loan from Opportunity Fund, Dr. Kolmes opened their private practice in Oakland to provide counseling services to the LGBQ and TNGC communities.
“It is hard to think about if I would be making more money as a man or as a heterosexual, but I also can’t deny that [income inequality] is happening. Research suggests a disadvantage with lower income levels, particularly for bisexual and gender non-conforming people,” said Dr. Kolmes.
Dr. Kolmes said their transgender and gender nonconforming clients have the most difficulty professionally, and many have anxiety about finding the right work environment. And while few of their clients are starting their own businesses, many are working to improve gender diversity in the workplace.
LGBTQ-owned businesses offer significant contributions to our economy, and like Dr. Kolmes’ practice, to our community. Read more about Opportunity Fund’s commitment to LGBTQ-owned businesses, featured in the San Francisco Chronicle. And check out our gift guide below for more LGBTQ-owned businesses that Opportunity Fund has supported.