European Union gives € 500,000+ to help LGBTI people in Brazil start their own businesses

Micro Rainbow International secures funding through the European Union for a three-year project to help lift LGBTI people in Brazil out of poverty.

Not-for-profit social enterprise Micro Rainbow International (MRI) has announced that is has received funding from the European Union for a three-year project to help alleviate poverty among the LGBTI communities in Brazil.

A proportion of the funding will be used to help LGBTI individuals set up their own businesses.

Recognizing that LGBTI people face barriers in entering the workplace, other parts of the funding will be used to enable LGBTI-focused NGOs to offer staff training to private businesses and employers on sexual orientation and gender identity issues.

Founded in 2012 by social entrepreneur and LGBT activist Sebastian Rocca, the London-basedMicro Rainbow International is dedicated to creating the ‘tools, programmes and policy recommendations that enable LGBTI people to step out of poverty, everywhere’, according to a statement on its website.

Besides helping LGBT refugees in the United Kingdom, MRI has carried out extensive work in Cambodia and Brazil. Research undertaken in the latter country last year found that 61% of LGBT people are unemployed and living in poverty.

The remaining 39% of respondents were mainly in low-paying jobs, with sex work being the most common form of income for trans respondents.

MRI has now secured €518,909 (approx. US$550,000) support from the European Union through the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR).

Founded in 2006, EIDHR has the task of promoting democracy and human rights in non-EU countries. Between 2007-2013 it had an approximate budget of €157million per year, and has helped fund more than 1,200 projects in over 100 countries.

In a statement, MRI said that it will be working in close partnership with Brazil’s ASTRA Rio, Grupo Arco Iris (GAI) and other local NGOs to distribute the funding.

Speaking about the funding, Rocca said in a statement: ‘According to a local NGO, Grupo Gay da Bahia, one LGBTI person is murdered every 26 hours in Brazil and most of the victims also appear to live in poverty.

‘This is shocking to me. Brazil is far from being a tolerant, equal and inclusive society towards LGBTI people. This project will tackle social attitudes and change people’s lives. We are thrilled.’

‘Our research shows that far too many lesbian, gay and bisexual people hide their sexuality in the workplace for fear of being discriminated and/or fired,’ Rocca went on to tell Gay Star Business.

‘We are planning to support LGBTI people to set up small businesses, access skills training opportunities and train local employers on the barriers that LGBTI people face in accessing employment and in the workplace.

‘Our preliminary investigations show that big corporations might be relatively more willing to engage with us, which is welcomed because a high number of LGBTI employees could benefit from our project.

‘However, we also want to target small and medium size businesses, those businesses that are at heart of the local community, those which can have a great impact in changing the negative social attitudes that too many people still hold in Rio towards LGBTI people.’

Majorie Marchi, President of ASTRA, Rio de Janeiro, said that finding ways for LGBTI people to earn a living will have a significant effect on combatting discrimination: ‘This is the time to celebrate one of the most important moments for the low-income LGBT population in Rio.

‘Access to credit, employability and other forms of self-support guarantee emancipation, empowerment and full citizenship, which are extremely necessary to fight homophobia in Brazil.’

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