6 Resources for 2SLGBTQIA+ Startups and Small Businesses in Canada

June is a month of blossoming – from the official start of summer and the lush greenery in bloom to celebrating Pride Month – a global celebration of the history, resilience, and accomplishments of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. It’s a collective movement, bringing together people from various walks of life to honour what Pride stands for – inclusivity, diversity, respect, and equality – something that everyone deserves. 

As an organization dedicated to fostering entrepreneurial skills and mindsets, we recognize the unique challenges faced by 2SLGBTQIA+ entrepreneurs. The journey of Canadian Pride, tracing back to the decriminalization of homosexuality in 1969 and evolving through numerous milestones, mirrors a broader narrative of progress and the ongoing struggle against systemic barriers. Despite significant strides, many within the 2SLGBTQIA+ community still face challenges that inhibit their full participation in entrepreneurship—from unequal access to opportunities to a lack of representation. Many 2SLGBTQIA+ entrepreneurs are systematically overlooked, with investors dismissing opportunities to invest in them due to a lack of understanding and personal bias. For instance, in 2022, 70% of Canadian 2SLGBTQIA+ owned and operated companies had never encountered specialized 2SLGBTQIA+ funding, and only 13% had successfully acquired funding. That’s a lot of entrepreneurs who don’t have the same access to funding as their counterparts. This disparity highlights the critical need for continued support and advocacy.

Our commitment 

At Venture for Canada, we’re dedicated to fostering entrepreneurial skills and empowering businesses that champion underrepresented groups to achieve success. We believe that everyone deserves to feel safe, empowered, and flourish as their authentic selves, regardless of their gender, race, socioeconomic background, or who they love. Here, we spotlight six businesses supporting the 2SLGBTQIA+ community that exemplify inclusivity, accessibility, and security.  

1. The Canadian Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (CGLCC)

About: The Canadian Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (CGLCC) is a national non-profit organization dedicated to fostering economic growth for the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. Their mission is to create a thriving and inclusive Canada by removing barriers for 2SLGBTQIA+ entrepreneurs. They do this by bringing people together and showcasing the right resources for 2SLGBTQIA+ entrepreneurs to succeed. They also support 2SLGBTQIA+ businesses through certification, networking, advocacy, and education and training, including the OUT for Business Entrepreneur Mentorship Program, which connects the next generation of 2SLGBTQIA+ entrepreneurs with business leaders for guidance and support. 

Impact: They are the only chamber of commerce uniting and advocating for the 28,000 2SLGBTQIA+ owned and operated businesses in Canada. 

Connect: Check out their upcoming events and make sure to follow them on social media: 

IG: @thecglcc

LI: Canada’s 2SLGBTQI+ Chamber of Commerce (CGLCC)


X: @thecglcc

2. QueerTech

About: QueerTech is a non-profit organization located in Montreal. Their mission is to break down barriers, create spaces, and connect communities to support and empower 2SLGBTQIA+ people to thrive. They’re all about inclusivity by creating a diverse community that fosters security and belonging, helpfulness by providing and creating equal access, resources, and opportunities, accessibility, and pride. QueerTech has a 10-week program for queer and trans people in tech who struggle with imposter syndrome, want to build a community of queer and trans folk in the tech world, and need a safe space to unlock their confidence in an ever-changing job market. They also have a mentorship program to help queer the tech ecosystem by empowering 2SLGBTQIA+ to succeed. 

Impact: They have over 9,000 community members, over 200 corporate and non-profit partners across the Canadian tech ecosystem, and they’ve organized over 125 events since 2016. 

Connect: Check out their podcast, where they amplify the insights of inspiring 2SLGBTQIA+ professionals and entrepreneurs in the tech ecosystem. Follow them on social media: 

IG: @queertechhq

LI: QueerTech

FB: @queertechhq

X: @queertechhq

YouTube: @queertechhq

3. Community ONE Foundation 

About: The Community ONE Foundation is a non-profit organization located in Toronto. Their mission is to support the 2SLGBTQIA+ community in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) through grants, scholarships, and advocacy. They fund various projects and initiatives in the areas of health and social sciences, arts and culture, and research, education and advocacy. Additionally, the foundation promotes community engagement through events, workshops, and networking opportunities. Fun fact: the official mascot of the Community ONE Foundation is fruit  – dating back to the 1980s! 🍌🍊🫐🍉

Impact: They’ve supported over 1,000 innovative community projects. 

Connect: If you’re in the GTA, apply for their grants and awards which provide funding to foster leadership in the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, helping to cultivate new services and programs. Stay up to date with them on social media: 

IG: @c1foundation

X: @C1Foundation

FB: @CommunityOneFoundation

4. Chasing Rainbows

 About: Chasing Rainbows is an early-stage venture fund that invests in 2SLGBTQIA+ founded startups from pre-seed to Series A, focusing on sectors like healthcare, sustainability, education, and financial equity and inclusion. The fund aims to empower 2SLGBTQIA+ founders who have proven traction, a clear scale strategy, and a passion for making a difference by leveraging their unique experiences and perspectives to drive innovation and business growth. Investing in 2SLGBTQIA+ founders taps into a high-performing, overlooked and determined population, and the data doesn’t lie – these founders outperform (e.g. 114% more patents and 44% more exits). They support these founders through funding, mentorship, and strategic connections, helping to create a more diverse and inclusive business environment. 

Impact: Their founders are solving BIG problems, like using green technology to repurpose idle spaces into sustainable rooftop gardens and creating biodegradable textiles from shrimp and mushrooms. 

Connect: Apply for funding and make sure to follow them on social media: 

LI: Chasing Rainbows 

FB: @chasingrainbows.vc

X: @rainbows_vc

5. Misfit Ventures 

About: Misfit Ventures is committed to fostering a thriving and inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystem by being the first 2SLGBTQIA+ venture capital fund in Canada and the largest in North America. They invest in 2SLGBTQIA+ leaders, pre-seed to seed, all sectors, within Canada and around the world. Misfit Ventures offers funding, mentorship, and strategic support to help 2SLGBTQIA+ entrepreneurs succeed globally. 🌎

Impact: Their founders have diverse backgrounds in B2B SaaS, healthcare, sustainability, real estate, media, banking, and finance. 

Connect: Pitch to them today!

6. Venture for Canada | Intrapreneurship Program 

 About: Venture for Canada (VFC) is a national charitable organization that promotes entrepreneurship and innovation among young Canadians through various programs, including the Fellowship Program, the Intrapreneurship Program, and the Internship Program. Designed with underserved communities in mind, the Intrapreneurship Program increases access to Canada’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and eliminates barriers to entrepreneurship for 2SLGBTQIA+ folks. This program offers fully subsidized project support to employers and helps restore equality of opportunity by providing real-world work experience and opportunities to students. ❤️

Impact: 5,275+ intrapreneurships funded, 2,142 students placed, and 761 companies hired intrapreneurs, from 2021-2023. Read more in our Impact Report

Connect: Looking for 100% subsidized support? Apply to be an Intrapreneurship Project Partner. Follow us on social media: 

IG: @venture4canada 

LI: Venture for Canada

FB: @Venture4Canada

X: @Venture4Canada

So, how can you support 2SLGBTQIA+ community? 

As we celebrate the achievements and progress made, we also acknowledge the work that remains. Supporting the 2SLGBTQIA+ entrepreneurial community extends beyond Pride Month; it’s a continuous commitment to action, education, and advocacy. Let us carry forward the spirit of Pride by ensuring that inclusivity, diversity, respect, and equality are not just ideals, but realities for everyone, every day.

Here’s eight ways you can support the 2SLGBTQIA+ entrepreneurial community today:

Educate Yourself and Others: Learn about the issues facing the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, including historical and current struggles for rights and acceptance. Share your knowledge to help raise awareness and combat misinformation. 

Support 2SLGBTQIA+ Businesses: Purchase products or services from businesses owned by 2SLGBTQIA+ individuals. This economic support helps strengthen their presence and success in the marketplace. If they’re a non-profit organization, donate! These funds help provide resources, support legal battles, and organize community events.

Volunteer: Offer your time and skills to 2SLGBTQIA+ centers, hotlines, shelters, or organizations. Volunteering is a direct way to impact lives within the community.

Advocate for Inclusive Policies: Whether in your workplace or local government, advocate for policies that promote inclusivity and protect against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Participate in Events: Join or help organize 2SLGBTQIA+ events like Pride parades, workshops, and talks. Participation shows solidarity and allyship.

Support 2SLGBTQIA+ Art and Media: Consume and promote films, books, music, and art created by 2SLGBTQIA+ artists. Representation matters, and supporting their work helps amplify their voices.

Stand Against Discrimination: Speak out against homophobic, biphobic, and transphobic remarks and actions in your workplace. Being an active bystander can help create safer spaces for everyone.

Mentorship and Networking: Provide mentorship or networking opportunities to 2SLGBTQIA+ entrepreneurs, helping them advance and succeed in their entrepreneurial journeys or personal growth.

Rebecca Scott