If it’s one thing we’ve learned in the LGBT+ community, it’s this: we have to figure out how to empower ourselves. That means economically, through education, solidarity but primarily – through business. More and more companies across the Philippines are now owned by people who identify as something other than heterosexual.
Consequently, more enterprises are courting the “pink peso” as a more significant number of Filipinos who identify as non-heterosexual are beginning to exercise their economic muscle and disposable income. As always, whatever way you want to play it, it’s in your hands.
LET’S START WITH THE LEGAL STUFF
Firstly, there are no legal barriers to stop LGBT+ citizens from operating businesses within the Philippines. The Philippines is seen as one of the most tolerant nations in Asia, even though there are still no national anti-discrimination laws in effect. (Although many laws exist locally that protect LGBT+ citizens).
There continue to be reports of sporadic events of anti-LGBT+ violence and discrimination, and police are often not hasty in their response,. Still, these but hese are localised, so a bit of research and understanding of local intelligence will put you on the right footing.
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
It’s no secret that Manila is where you’ll find the “thriller” of gay life in the Philippines. The city is also the gateway to the rest of the islands and is a tourist mecca where tourists meet and exchange travel plans to the islands. So, one would be forgiven for thinking that the best place to start a business would be in the capital – and you’d be right.
But don’t write off the islands either. There are tourists; there is tolerance; this seems to be the pay offline for most LGBT+ Filipinos.
FINANCE AND ACCESS TO CASHFLOW
Here’s some good news. While there is no singular organisation that offers loans tailored towards the LGBT+ community, that is changing. This report by apcom.org details all of the positive moves and changes that have taken place in the Philippines over the past few years and the plans in the making – including access to affordable financial products to LGBT+ Filipinos.
A long time preserve of gay business marketing, the digital landscape has made it possible for us to trade with each other and with the market in general safely and without being overly exposed. This is especially useful in parts of the country that are less tolerant and where a higher degree of anonymity is necessary. Google has now made provision for adding “LGBT friendly” and “Transgender safe attributes”. This has meant that LGBT+ businesses can offer assurances of a safe environment for all of their clients and customers.
Don’t let anyone steal your ambition. The only proper way to LGBT+ emancipation is economic emancipation, and you have to use the resources at your disposal. Information technology has changed the playing field and storing data. At the same time, operating businesses safely and with “best- practice” includes having a cloud service provider, an on or off-site digital marketing agency or manager and financial services if you’re not skilled in that area yourself.
Many successful businesses owners all over the islands identify as something other than straight, so never let that hold you back. With some guts and, well, balls, you can make it too.