Fighting Poverty among LGBTQI+ Persons from Brazil: Socioeconomic Inclusion and the Experience of Micro Rainbow International Foundation

By Monica Malta, PhD, University of Toronto, Department of Psychiatry;
Clarisse Cavalcante Kalume, BSc, Micro Rainbow International;
Ivana de Pinho Ribeiro, BSc, Micro Rainbow International;
Lucas Paoli Itaborahy, BSc, Micro Rainbow International;
Isaque Lima, BSc, Micro Rainbow International;
Isabela Colucci, BSc, Micro Rainbow International;
Luciano Soares, BSc, Micro Rainbow International;
Pâmela Mariano, BSc, Micro Rainbow International;
Tom Grito, BSc, Micro Rainbow International



Malta M, Kalume C, Ribeiro I, Itaborahy L, Lima I, Colucci I, Soares L, Mariano P, Grito T. Fighting poverty among LGBTQI+ persons from Brazil: socioeconomic inclusion and the experience of Micro Rainbow International Foundation. HPHR. 2023;72.

Fighting Poverty among LGBTQI+ Persons from Brazil: Socioeconomic Inclusion and the Experience of Micro Rainbow International Foundation



Sexual and gender minorities (SGM) are disproportionately represented among those experiencing poverty. The COVID-19 pandemic unleashed a wave of negative economic impacts on a global scale, with a striking economic disparity among SGM, especially those from racialized groups. This disparity was especially pronounced in low and middle-income countries like Brazil.


In this context, we present an intervention developed by the Micro Rainbow International Foundation aimed at enhancing the socio-economic well-being of low-income SGM communities in Brazil before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. This economic empowerment program involves comprehensive small business training in collaboration with local organizations. It offers personalized support, mentoring, financial management training, and assistance in establishing small businesses, including developing business plans.


The intervention was carried out annually from 2015 to 2023, benefiting 363 SGM individuals in Brazil living on less than $1 a day. A significant majority of participants either expanded their existing businesses or launched new ones. Many reported that the training motivated them to overcome the challenging realities of discrimination and marginalization, leading to increased self-confidence and a reduction in depression, suicide rates, and other mental health issues. Additionally, it instilled hope in them to confront issues such as unemployment, hostility, and economic insecurity.


Research consistently demonstrates that SGM individuals and their families face higher economic struggles, including elevated rates of poverty, housing instability, and food insecurity. Multiple factors contribute to these challenges, including ongoing discrimination in various aspects of daily life, from education to employment and housing. Strategies like the one described here play a vital role in breaking the cycle of poverty experienced by SGM individuals.


The described intervention is actively creating practical and life-changing opportunities for SGM individuals to break free from the shackles of poverty.



Sexual and gender minority (SGM) populations constitute a rich tapestry of diverse identities, encompassing individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, asexual, transgender, Two-Spirit, queer, and/or intersex. Beyond these labels, this inclusive category recognizes individuals with same-sex or -gender attractions or behaviors, as well as those with differences in sex development. Embracing a broad spectrum of experiences and expressions, the term captures the complexity and fluidity inherent in the diverse landscape of sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression.


Efficient data collection stands as an indispensable tool in comprehending and tackling the challenges encountered by SGM communities. Despite notable progress in recent years, a significant impediment persists in the form of inadequate routine data collection on sexual orientation, gender identity, and variations in sex characteristics. This deficiency poses a substantial barrier for policymakers, researchers, service providers, and advocates committed to enhancing the health and well-being of SGM individuals. Addressing this data gap is imperative for developing informed strategies and targeted interventions that can meaningfully impact the lives of diverse sexual and gender minority populations. In Brazil, as in numerous regions globally, there exists a notable scarcity of comprehensive data and frequently ambiguous indicators related to SGM communities.1


The inaugural survey on sexual orientation, officially conducted by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics under the title “Self-identified sexual orientation of the adult population,” took place in 2019 as an integral component of the National Health Survey. The outcomes of this survey present the following insights: 94.8% of the population aged 18 and above identified as heterosexual, 1.2% openly identified as homosexual, 0.7% embraced a bisexual identity, 1.1% encountered difficulty answering the question, and 2.3% declined to provide a response. Furthermore, 0.1% expressed identification with other orientations, with many specifying pansexuality or asexuality.2


It’s noteworthy that the Brazilian survey results align with averages reported in some countries with similar countries in Latin America, such as Colombia (1.2% of the population)3, and Chile (1.8%)4, but below the estimates for the United States (7.2%)5, and Canada (4%)6. However, the study recognizes the likelihood of significant underreporting due to the stigma associated with this social group. Notably, the IBGE survey lacks data on the gender identity of its participants. Nonetheless, two substantial surveys in Brazil have specifically addressed the transgender population. The Divas Study, a comprehensive public health study conducted between 2016 and 2017, involved 2,800 trans women across 12 state capitals7. Another significant survey, conducted in 2018 by Botucatu Medical School (Unesp), included 6,000 trans individuals across 129 municipalities nationwide. Data from the Unesp survey indicates that 1.9% of the Brazilian population identifies as transgender or non-binary, approximately 4 million individuals.8 This proportion aligns with findings from other countries, including the United States9 and England10.



Brazil’s stance on the well-being and safety of the SGM community unveils a complex paradox. Remarkably, the country lacks legal provisions criminalizing transsexuality, homosexuality, or bisexuality. Furthermore, Brazil retains certain public health and anti-discrimination regulations and programs initially instituted during the Labour Party governments. Importantly, before the global advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, Brazil held a prominent position as one of the world’s premier SGM tourist destinations11.


Despite these progressive elements, the prevalence of violence, especially the alarming number of murders within the SGM population, is deeply concerning. A notable legislative stride was made when the Supreme Court categorized SGM phobia within the Racism Law in 2019, making it a hate crime. This step forward allows cases of violence and discrimination to be formally documented at police stations. Regrettably, the persistent under-reporting of cases by police stations remains a significant issue12, 13.


Civil society organizations and social movements, notably spearheaded by the Gay Group of Bahia and the Brazilian National Transgender Association , have taken the lead in compiling criminal statistics. Their data reveals a stark reality: Brazil currently holds the unfortunate distinction of being the country with the highest number of murdered SGM individuals globally. This intricate and paradoxical situation underscores the pressing need for ongoing advocacy and policy reforms to effectively bridge the gap between existing legal protections and the harsh realities experienced by the SGM community in Brazil14.


A wealth of literature has firmly established the profound link between social and economic factors and the overall health and well-being of individuals across their lifespans15. These health determinants encompass individual-level elements, such as income, education, and social connections, as well as structural factors that include the characteristics of communities and government policies16. The interplay of these factors plays a pivotal role in either facilitating or constraining access to health-promoting behaviors and healthcare services17.


Minority stress stands out as a crucial social determinant of health for sexual minority individuals18. A multitude of studies has delved into the repercussions of sexual identity-related stigma, discrimination, and structural factors, such as bans on same-sex marriage, revealing pronounced disparities in both physical and behavioral health among SGM individuals19-21. Over recent decades, research has consistently underscored economic disparities as a prominent health determinant within the SGM community, with low income emerging as one of the most significant factors impacting their overall well-being22-24.


Several non-governmental organizations have developed strategies to mitigate the consequences of poverty among SGM individuals25-27. However, a noticeable gap exists in the form of comprehensive studies evaluating the effectiveness of these interventions. Without rigorous assessment and subsequent improvements, these organizations run the risk of employing less efficient methods in their endeavors to alleviate economic insecurity among SGM individuals. It is imperative that these interventions undergo systematic evaluation and refinement to ensure they genuinely meet the needs of the SGM community and contribute effectively to poverty alleviation.


Herein, we delve into the effects of the Entrepreneurship Program, an initiative from Micro Rainbow International implemented with the primary objective of providing a pathway for low-income SGM individuals in Brazil to break free from the cycle of poverty.


Micro Rainbow International Foundation

Established in the United Kingdom in 2012, Micro Rainbow International Foundation (MRIF) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to combating poverty and discrimination faced by SGM persons, with a strong focus on their professional development, financial independence, and social integration. Distinguished by its innovative approach, particularly as SGM activism traditionally centers on civil and political rights, MRIF oversees 12 shelters, providing assistance to over 5,000 SGM refugees and asylum seekers in the United Kingdom. Furthermore, the organization spearheads initiatives promoting entrepreneurship in Brazil and extending support for microfinance in Cambodia.


In Brazil, SGM persons face a striking confluence of poverty indicators, very low educational attainment (often stemming from early school dropout rates), a lack of familial support, and limited opportunities within the formal job market1,4,28. These challenges disproportionately impact transgender and non-binary persons, often compelling them into precarious or informal occupations. In response to this scenario, MRIF embarked on the development of an intervention project tailored to the SGM population from Brazil, giving rise to the Micro Rainbow Brazil Project. Initially funded by the European Union’s European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR/EU) between 2015 and 2018, MRIF’s commitment to this mission persists to the present day.

Micro Rainbow Brazil Project

With the primary aim of enhancing the socio-economic inclusion of participants through skill development and training, the project unfolds in three distinct phases:


  1. First Phase (2015-2018): This phase was made possible through sponsorship from the European Union and was conducted in Rio de Janeiro. It encompassed activities in two key areas:
  • Employability: This involved providing professional training to SGM persons through collaborative partnerships and promoting companies’ awareness of the importance of creating corporate diversity policies.
  • Entrepreneurship: This component focused on delivering training and support for entrepreneurship exclusively to SGM persons, utilizing a unique and tailored methodology.
  1. Second Phase: Following the conclusion of European Union sponsorship, the project persisted in Rio de Janeiro. During this phase, the emphasis shifted to entrepreneurship classes, which were made possible through private sponsorship from Euromonitor International.
  2. Third Phase: The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic prompted a transition to a distance learning format, enabling the project to reach a national audience. This phase emphasized entrepreneurship classes that were accessible to SGM persons across the country, promoting socio-economic inclusion during challenging times.

The comprehensive eligibility criteria for participation in the entrepreneurship training encompassed the requirement of self-identification as an SGM individual, an annual income falling below the federal poverty line, attainment of the legal age for consent, residency in Rio de Janeiro (for in-person courses) or anywhere in Brazil (for online courses), and a demonstrated interest in or current engagement with entrepreneurship. Given the consistently high volume of applications exceeding the available spots for each course, supplementary selection strategies were implemented. The overarching goal was to assemble a diverse cohort, spanning the entire SGM spectrum, with a particular emphasis on inclusivity towards historically marginalized individuals. This emphasis extended to SGM persons from racial minorities, those grappling with housing instability, and individuals experiencing food insecurity.


In 2015, a cost-free course was initiated to nurture entrepreneurship within the SGM community. This course was designed to impart essential knowledge in business management and financial education to SGM individuals with limited financial resources. The classes were held in person and were conducted within the city of Rio de Janeiro, extending to the metropolitan region. Students received complimentary teaching materials and benefited from transportation and lunch support. Beyond the core technical curriculum, the classes incorporated supplementary activities, including facilitated discussion groups led by a psychologist and personalized tutoring, enriching the overall learning experience.


In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the small business training for low-income SGM entrepreneurs made a seamless transition to an online format. Additionally, between September 2021 and April 2022, a new program, known as the Business Acceleration Programme for SGM entrepreneurs in Brazil, was introduced. These training initiatives offered a comprehensive approach, combining a mix of in-person and pre-recorded classes, live sessions with interactive Q&A, live workshops, one-on-one mentorship activities, and customized content tailored to students’ unique needs each year.


This course is structured to provide participants with financial education and business management training, equipping them with the knowledge and skills needed for launching, expanding, or formalizing small enterprises. Furthermore, the program offers ongoing monitoring of progress and extends valuable follow-up support and individualized guidance to ensure the success of each participant’s entrepreneurial endeavours.


Between January 2015 and June 2023, a total of 10 small business training for low-income SGM entrepreneurs were conducted by MRIF in Brazil, including a diverse group of 465 SGM individuals, the large majority Black, Indigenous, and people of colour (BIPOC).A detailed account of the composition, notable achievements, and a sample of entrepreneurs who secured seed funding for each entrepreneurship class can be accessed on the MicroRainbow Brazil website at


MRI Entrepreneurship Training: Who joined us?

Since its inception, the Micro Rainbow Brazil Project has offered ten entrepreneurship classes with the following numbers (Table 1):

Table 1: Summary of Participants in Entrepreneurship Courses


Entrepreneurship course (T1 – T10) 







Opened or expanded their business


Received seed capital


The personalized support provided by the project team consistently emerged as a pivotal motivational factor contributing to the successful completion of the training. Participants conveyed sincere appreciation for being integral to an inclusive and diverse learning environment that recognized and respected their diverse identities and business types. This supportive backdrop not only facilitated the establishment of mutual support networks but also played a significant role in nurturing a profound sense of belonging within the entrepreneurial community. The ensuing case studies below serve to illustrate the impactful outcomes of the MRI Entrepreneurship Training.


Ian, a young trans man residing in Porto Alegre, Brazil, faced challenges due to disrespect for his gender identity but found solace in his passion for cooking. After losing his job as a cook during the pandemic, Ian ventured into producing vegan sauces and antipasti to make ends meet. Despite initial success, limitations in production capacity and distant customers posed challenges. Enrolling in Micro Rainbow International Foundation’s small business training proved transformative. Recognizing the need for growth, Ian received seed capital and support to relocate his production unit closer to customers, enhance infrastructure, and formalize his business. Today, Ian is realizing his dream, experiencing a tenfold increase in the company’s profit through boosted sales and expanded offerings while also providing employment opportunities for an additional ten trans individuals.


Wanessa, a Black trans woman facing challenges in a high-crime area of Rio de Janeiro, overcame obstacles to participate in Micro Rainbow International Foundation’s 7th small business training. Despite limited digital access, she persevered, excelling as a diligent student and submitting a handwritten business plan. Recognized as an outstanding student, Wanessa received seed capital to enhance her makeup product business. With MRIF’s investment, she diversified her products, improved packaging, and expanded sales to beauty salons and massage parlors. Wanessa’s net profit increased 15 times, providing financial autonomy and a stable income source. The support she received empowered her to envision further business development and assist other LGBTI individuals.


Macuco, a lesbian craft beer business in southern Brazil, faced challenges during the Covid-19 pandemic, prompting them to adapt and create a delivery service after closing their physical store. In 2021, Mica, co-founder of Macuco, participated in Micro Rainbow International Foundation’s LGBTQI Business Acceleration Programme, leading to significant improvements in various areas of the company, from financial management to networking policies. They learned the importance of delegating tasks, resulting in the hiring of their first permanent employee. This strategic move allowed them to focus on more critical aspects of the business. Macuco broke its single-day sales record twice in 2022, attributing the success to tools improved during the Acceleration programme. The upcoming second store, scheduled for August 2022, is expected to double revenue, generate two more jobs, and exclusively employ members of the LGBTQI community. Mica credits the programme for their improved business performance and strategic approach.


For the majority of participants, the Entrepreneurship Training represented more than just an upskilling opportunity; it provided a transformative chance to reshape the trajectory of their lives, enhance their mental well-being, and cultivate a sense of empowerment. These positive impacts carried particular significance given the substantial number of participants who were previously grappling with feelings of hopelessness, depression, and a lack of social support networks. The following selected quotes illuminate the profound impact of the MRI Entrepreneurship Training for SGM participants:


The training was a milestone in my life, I was able to see myself as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community and became more self-affirmed. Learning about my business was a new cycle for me, a new life. But the best part was learning to accept myself without having to hide my true identity. I heard so many beautiful stories during classes, which made me feel much stronger and helped me become a better lesbian with more self-esteem and more self-assured. THANKS.


It meant breaking my own limits and barriers, understanding who I am and what I represent as an LGBTI+ person in search of my own space. Its my first experience in an environment like this, and it was very inspirational and rewarding. In my region, there are no such kind of initiatives, only pride parade and diversity week.


Every time we started a class, and I heard your voices, my mood would change. I felt welcomed, special. During the week I had Covid, I was really weak, vulnerable and very scared. I didnt sleep well for days, and I know its not cool, but during class, I turned off the camera and felt such peaceListening to you all soothed me and made me realize I was still standing strong, even though I felt scared. The other students and staff were a real healing.


I want to express my eternal gratitude to the entire Micro Rainbow team for your affection and care, for the amazing classesas I often said during the training, you are my antidepressantmy prescription drug. Thank you for everything; you have changed our lives! I have been rethinking everything in my professional life thanks to you guys.


I want to thank everyone on the Micro Rainbow team. The training came at a very special moment for me, a moment of transformation. It was surreal to be able to participate in the classes and plan a future at such a dark time for humanity, especially in our country. Each class was like disconnecting from everything and finding new strength.

MRI Entrepreneurship Training: Changes over time

Despite participants’ unwavering support and commendable dedication, a notable trend emerged during the third class (2017). It became evident that there was a significant likelihood of dropout among trans individuals, as none of the ten trans women selected for this class were able to complete the program. In response, a comprehensive diagnostic assessment was initiated to identify the vulnerabilities that contributed to these dropouts, with particular emphasis on the most marginalized segments of the SGM community.


This diagnostic process comprised both quantitative and qualitative components, with the quantitative aspect correlating data from the registration forms. This data encompassed various factors, including age group, education level, and the participants’ stage of entrepreneurial maturity (whether they were in the project conception stage, initiating a business, or had already established a business), among other characteristics. The results revealed that age had no discernible impact on dropout rates, whereas education level proved to be a significant factor (with higher dropout rates associated with lower educational attainment). Additionally, the degree of maturity as an entrepreneur played a crucial role, with individuals in the vague project conception phase more susceptible to dropping out.


Notably, the correlation between being transgender and having lower education levels was also pronounced. A series of methodological adjustments were introduced to enhance the participation and continuity of individuals with limited educational backgrounds, including targeted reinforcement for these participants. Conversely, the degree of entrepreneurial maturity emerged as a pivotal selection criterion. It became evident that the course’s content was most engaging for those already engaged in business activities or those highly motivated with a clear and concrete business idea, regardless of the nature of their work. These insights drove efforts to tailor the program better to meet the needs of a diverse range of participants.


Another crucial factor contributing to dropouts was the participants’ struggles with financial education, which extended beyond mere mathematical challenges. The burden of debt and the exceptionally low income they derived from their work weighed heavily on the participants. Many were living in ignorance of their debts, labouring under the belief that they would never be able to repay them. This knowledge gap also extended to their monthly bills; participants often avoided tallying up their exact income and expenses because they were reluctant to face the reality of their financial situation. This issue was particularly thorny, as the subject was deeply distressing and represented a significant driver of dropouts. Yet, understanding personal and professional finances was undeniably vital.


In this case, the solution was not solely to introduce financial content but also to foster awareness among the students. They needed to realize that, irrespective of their circumstances, there were pathways to resolving financial challenges and that confronting these issues could substantially enhance their relationship with money matters. This shift in perspective aimed to empower participants to take control of their finances and work toward a more secure financial future.


Starting with the 4th class, the selection process was refined to consider the applicants’ entrepreneurial aspirations and the level of maturity in their business ideas as eligibility criteria. Individualized financial support hours were introduced, and a priority was placed on transgender individuals in all program activities. The positive impact of these changes quickly became evident, with the dropout rate among trans participants in subsequent classes aligning with that of cisgender individuals. These adjustments effectively fostered inclusivity and participation among transgender communities, ultimately contributing to the program’s overall success.


Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the training was transitioned to an online format, empowering students to commence their entrepreneurial activities with the support of seed funds for implementation or improvement. This addressed a critical need — the provision of capital for vulnerable entrepreneurs, a demand significantly impacted by the prevailing political and economic conditions in Brazil.


A follow-up survey designed to gauge the effectiveness of the ten small business training sessions for low-income SGM entrepreneurs unveiled substantial enhancements in the students’ economic prospects. One noteworthy achievement was the expanded reach of the initiative across the country, extending support to places and regions that previously lacked initiatives for the SGM community. Participants from remote and hard-to-reach such as the Amazon Bay and rural regions, where access to learning and entrepreneurial opportunities is limited, engaged in the program. Another milestone was the increased age diversity, with 14% of participants aged over 40 showcasing resilience in overcoming generational barriers and digital challenges and presenting outstanding business plans.


The impact is further underscored by the development of high-quality and realistic business plans, particularly in financial projection—an area historically challenging for most students due to limited access to financial education. Participants demonstrated a heightened awareness of local limitations, crafting strategies to address complex challenges related to distance and logistics. Notably, after the COVID-19 Pandemic, many participants have re-engaged in in-person sales, actively participating in fairs, festivals, and direct sales opportunities.


A significant number of participants shared that they had minimal or no prior exposure to business management or financial education. The training emerged as a transformative experience, equipping them with valuable skills to better manage their businesses and fostering the confidence needed to navigate entrepreneurship. Overcoming insecurities and fears, participants attested to the program’s empowering impact.


In conclusion, the follow-up survey illuminates the transformative impact of the small business training sessions for low-income SGM entrepreneurs. The initiative not only succeeded in broadening its reach to previously underserved regions but also fostered inclusivity, as reflected in increased age diversity and resilience against generational and digital challenges. The participants, equipped with newfound skills and confidence, demonstrated a profound understanding of local challenges, strategically addressing complexities related to distance and logistics. The post-COVID-19 resurgence in in-person sales participation underscores the program’s adaptability and effectiveness. The success stories emerging from this initiative affirm its pivotal role in empowering individuals with limited prior exposure to business management, marking a significant step toward economic empowerment and entrepreneurship within the SGM community.


In Brazil, official statistical data is notably scarce, hindering our comprehensive understanding of the distribution of the SGM population across various social groups. Key demographic factors such as average income, educational attainment, and racial representation remain undisclosed28,28. However, a significant segment of the SGM community experiences heightened vulnerability in socio-economic terms, characterized by limited educational opportunities, constrained employment prospects, housing instability and food insecurity, allied with fragile social networks and frequent psychological stress28,29. This demographic confronts severe constraints in the formal job market, offering neither the coveted financial stability nor protection from SGM phobia. Moreover, the formal employment sector has not been immune to the profound impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing economic crisis, exacerbating the challenges faced by this already marginalized group.



Throughout the project, the intricate challenges stemming from the intersection of various oppressions have come to light. These challenges manifest in forms such as income levels below the minimum wage, food insecurity, severe mental health issues, familial discord (including expulsion from homes due to LGBTQ+-phobia), and diminished self-esteem. Our experience in Brazil underscored the inadequacy of providing rigid technical content that proved unrealistic for micro-entrepreneurs circumstances. Instead, we recognized the imperative to adapt our content to the evolving dynamics and emerging needs, comprehending the day-to-day challenges and charting potential avenues for support.



This project stands out as the inaugural endeavor exclusively dedicated to SGM entrepreneurs in Brazil. The landscape has witnessed a noteworthy surge in the population of micro-entrepreneurs, a response to the dwindling opportunities in the formal employment sector, spurring the establishment of additional initiatives tailored for this demographic. Nonetheless, a pivotal challenge contributing to the initial years’ failure of micro-enterprises is the dearth of planning and essential knowledge. Beyond the acquisition of knowledge, there emerges a critical imperative for fostering encouragement and substantial investment in the self-esteem of SGM individuals, who already contend with societal skepticism, discrimination and prejudice.



The conventional perception of entrepreneurs, often rooted in hegemonic and heteronormative norms, requires a critical reevaluation to encompass the diverse realities faced by SGM individuals, especially those living in highly vulnerable situations. Effectively supporting SGM entrepreneurs involves acknowledging their unique challenges. The MRI Entrepreneurship Project emphasizes that being an SGM entrepreneur means being one’s own boss, navigating the complexities of autonomy with both its challenges and triumphs. While traits like creativity, innovation, proactivity, and organization are advantageous for entrepreneurs, they can be cultivated and learned. The project prioritizes boosting participants’ self-esteem, emphasizing that they are already entrepreneurs, even if their businesses are not well-structured. Using former students’ stories as examples, the project showcases real-life cases with successes, failures, weaknesses, strengths, and changes, of course, providing relatable and inspiring illustrations.



Entrepreneurship training tailored for SGM individuals serves as a powerful catalyst in addressing the intersection of poverty, community well-being, and health improvement. Often marginalized within the formal employment market, SGM individuals face socio-economic vulnerabilities that can lead to inadequate living conditions and health disparities. By offering targeted entrepreneurship training, initiatives aim to empower this community to overcome financial hurdles and embark on ventures that not only enhance their economic status but also contribute to improved life quality. As micro-entrepreneurs, they gain the tools to navigate economic challenges, potentially lifting themselves out of poverty. Beyond economic impact, entrepreneurship serves as a conduit for enhanced mental and emotional well-being, fostering a sense of autonomy and self-worth. In turn, improved life quality and financial stability create a positive feedback loop, positively influencing overall health outcomes and contributing to a more equitable and inclusive society.


Entrepreneurship training tailored for SGM individuals serves as a powerful catalyst in addressing the intersection of poverty, community well-being, and health improvement. Often marginalized within the formal employment market, SGM individuals face socio-economic vulnerabilities that can lead to inadequate living conditions and health disparities. By offering targeted entrepreneurship training, initiatives aim to empower this community to overcome financial hurdles and embark on ventures that not only enhance their economic status but also contribute to improved life quality. As micro-entrepreneurs, they gain the tools to navigate economic challenges, potentially lifting themselves out of poverty. Beyond economic impact, entrepreneurship serves as a conduit for enhanced mental and emotional well-being, fostering a sense of autonomy and self-worth. In turn, improved life quality and financial stability create a positive feedback loop, positively influencing overall health outcomes and contributing to a more equitable and inclusive society.


The authors thank all participants who generously agreed to share their unique experiences. Dr. Malta acknowledges support from NIMH/NIH (5R21MH119496-02).

Disclosure Statement

The author(s) have no relevant financial disclosures or conflicts of interest.


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About the Author

Monica Malta, PhD: Global Health Researcher, Assistant Professor at the Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto.

Dr. Malta has been working for over 15 years to address health inequalities faced by Sexual and Gender minorities living in low and middle-income countries.

Clarisse Cavalcante Kalume

Employability Coordinator at Micro Rainbow International Brazil.

Ivana de Pinho Ribeiro

Entrepreneurship Coordinator at Micro Rainbow International Brazil

Lucas Paoli Itaborahy

Project Manager at Micro Rainbow International Brazil. He has a bachelor’s degree in International Relations and a master’s degree in Human Rights, and he has 15 years of work experience with LGBTI issues in Brazil and abroad, both at government agencies (Brazil’s Ministry for Human Rights and Permanent Mission to the UN in Geneva) and international NGOs (ILGA World, ARC International, COC and Micro Rainbow International Foundation).

Isaque Lima

Collaborator at the Entrepreneurship Training, Micro Rainbow International Brazil

Isabela Colucci

Webdesigner, IT Specialists working in the field of Machine Learning, consultant for Micro Rainbow International Brazil

Luciano Soares

Collaborator at the Entrepreneurship Training, Micro Rainbow International Brazil

Pâmela Mariano

Collaborator at the Entrepreneurship Training, Micro Rainbow International Brazil

Tom Grito

Collaborator at the Entrepreneurship Training, Micro Rainbow International Brazil