The Business Gay Podcast with Host Calan Breckon
The Business Gay
Canada Makes $25 Million Dollar Investment in LGBTQ+ Entrepreneurs
Canada Makes $25 Million Dollar Investment in LGBTQ+ Entrepreneurs with Darrell Schuurman

In this episode of The Business Gay Podcast, host Calan Breckon speaks with the co-founder and CEO of the CGLCC, Darrell Schuurman.

The CGLCC is Canada’s LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce and is a national not-for-profit organization with a mission to expand the opportunities and advancement of the LGBTQ+ business community in Canada and has been in operation for over 20 years.

In June of this year, The Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business, and Economic Development, announced that the Government of Canada had selected the CGLCC to administer Canada’s first-ever LGBTQ+ Entrepreneurship Program. The $25 million dollar investment will assist entrepreneurs who identify as 2SLGBTQIA+ in overcoming the systemic barriers they face when starting and expanding their businesses.

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Key Takeaways for quick navigation:

  • [03:28] Canada’s government invests $25 million in LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs.
  • [04:40] CGLCC worked for 3-4 years to advocate and lobby for dedicated programs supporting LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs.
  • [06:05] LGBTQ+ businesses contribute over $22 billion to Canada’s economy and employ almost half a million Canadians.
  • [09:58] The $11.5 million Business Scale-Up Program focuses on national-level support, including mentorship, supplier diversity, and global market access for LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs.
  • [22:50] The $8.5 million Ecosystem Fund strengthens LGBTQ+ business support organizations nationwide, helping them provide more assistance to entrepreneurs.
  • [27:23] The program aims to support LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs by gathering more data and research on LGBTQ+ businesses nationwide and providing a knowledge hub with resources to aid their growth.
  • [28:28] Understanding regional challenges: The program aims to analyze the unique challenges faced by LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs in different regions like Alberta, Northern Manitoba, and Northern Saskatchewan.
  • [29:38] The program will collaborate with educational institutions to deliver resources and tools to support LGBTQ+ businesses’ growth and development.
  • [32:23] The initiative emphasizes supporting marginalized communities within the LGBTQ+ business community, including queer Black, Indigenous, people of color, and transgender entrepreneurs.
  • [37:35] The CGLCC has two certification programs: the Supplier Diversity Program, which certifies businesses with 51% LGBTQ+ ownership, and the Rainbow Registered Accreditation Program, recognizing inclusive businesses supporting the LGBTQ+ community.

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Calan Breckon    00:02:07    Welcome to the Business Gay podcast, where we talk about all things entrepreneurship, marketing, and business. I’m your host, Calan Breckon, and on today’s episode I have co-founder and CEO of the CGLCC, Darrell Schuurman. The CGLCC is Canada’s LG BTQ+ Chamber of Commerce and is a national non-for-profit organization with a mission to expand the opportunities and advancements of the LGBTQ+ business community in Canada and has been in operations for over 20 years. In June of this year at the Organization’s annual Summit, the Honorable Mary Ng Minister of International Trade Export Promotion, small businesses and economic development announced that the government of Canada had selected the CGLCC to administer Canada’s first ever lgbtq plus entrepreneurship program. The $25 million investment will assist entrepreneurs who identify as LGBTQ plus in overcoming the systemic barriers they face when starting and expanding their businesses. I myself am a certified diverse supplier with the CGLCC, which means my business is 51% or more owned and operated by someone who identifies as LGBTQ+. Mine is 100% because it’s just me and I’m also one of the 2023 mentees in their out for business mentorship program, which is actually coming up on my graduation very, very soon. But I’m looking forward to continuing to work with the CGLCC and supporting them as they grew through this new and exciting chapter. So, with all that said, let’s jump into the details with Darrell.

Calan Breckon:    So, hello, hello, Darrell. Thank you so much for joining us on the podcast. How are you doing? 

Darrell Schuurman:    00:03:42    I’m great. Thank you for inviting me. It’s exciting to be here. 

Calan Breckon:    00:03:45    Yes. And I’m just so excited to talk about this first ever of its kind in history, kind of a grant that we got from the Canadian government. So we are gonna jump into all of that with you. So let’s start off with, first, I want to know how long had you been working on to bring about this grant to further the CGLCC and what it does for Canadian entrepreneurs? ’cause I know that this didn’t just kind of happen out of thin air. 

Darrell Schuurman:    00:04:12    So this year it marks the 20th anniversary of the CGLCC. So we’ve been working on this for 20 years, I guess. I don’t know. It’s, uh, it, it feels like that. Um, really it’s, I would say that we’ve really been focusing on this over the last, um, three to four years, uh, over the last, uh, several years we’ve seen here in Canada the rollout of other programs to support other marginalized entrepreneurs. So we saw the rollout of a program supporting black, uh, black entrepreneurs, women entrepreneurs. Um, and, and so we, we really advocated and, and, uh, lobbied hard for the federal government to roll out programs to support, um, uh, two s LGBTQI plus entrepreneurs. We know that there are significant barriers and challenges, um, similar to what other diverse entrepreneurs face, but also unique challenges and barriers. And there was, we felt that there was, uh, a need for dedicated programming and supports for our community. 

Darrell Schuurman:    00:05:14    So, so yeah, we, we worked hard over the last, over the last several years to, to make sure that government, um, government officials, um, and business community were aware of the needs and we’re aware of the challenges and the barriers and, and what supports like this could, could do, and what it could mean for the economic, um, empowerment of these businesses, and at the same time, strengthening the Canadian economy. So, um, it’s finally, I, I’m very excited to say it’s finally come to fruition, but yeah, it’s been, it’s been a, it’s been a long slog, I won’t lie. 

Calan Breckon:    00:05:52    Yeah. And we’re gonna dive into all the details, um, exactly what is gonna be happening. But I did want to point out that LGBTQ plus businesses account for over $22 billion in end in economic activity in Canada and employ almost half a million Canadians. So I was curious, where did you find those stats? Is it just from like your years of doing all this work that you kind of brought it all together in order to kind of present that to the Canadian government? 

Darrell Schuurman:    00:06:19    Yeah, so we’ve been doing, we have been doing research for the last several years, and, um, back in 2019, we actually conducted our first national landscape study looking at, um, the Canadian ecosystem, looking at, um, what are some of those, those barriers and challenges and and size and economic impact of, of the, the business community here. So we did our first study in 2019 with, um, in partnership with, um, Deloitte. And we, we redid that again a couple years later. So back in 20 21, 22, I think we, we did that. We relaunched this stu study again. So, so we had some relatively solid data, some solid stats to kind of work with. And that really was key or critical for us to, um, uh, to go in when we’re, when we’re talking to government, talking to, um, leaders, talking about the, the size, the impact that it could have. So, um, so we had that kind of foundation that, um, that foundation to, to start to work from. Uh, clearly there’s a lot more data and research that’s still needed, um, but at least we had some of that fundamental, basic, uh, data to start with. 

Calan Breckon:    00:07:38    Yeah. Which is really important because I can only imagine when you’re having these conversations, you need to be able to back up why the Canadian government government needed to make this investment into, um, you know, lgbtq plus entrepreneurs. So with that, how long between signing everything and making that announcement, did it actually all kind of come together? Because I know it was Mary ing, um, I don’t know if you worked directly with, I’m assuming you worked with, ’cause she made the announcement at the summit. I was actually at the summit. I was sitting right up front and I was the first, like, the first second person to talk right after she was on stage. So it was very intimidating to have that kind of huge announcement. But, um, what was that timeframe between being like, yes, we have it to then bringing it out and like letting everybody know? 

Darrell Schuurman:    00:08:28    So I would say that we really started kind of start fleshing out the, the program back in the fall of 2022. So, um, basically the government had, had, uh, agreed that there was a need for a program like this. They, um, they had decided that they were going to commit dollars to it. We, we didn’t know how many dollars or, um, what that was gonna look like and how the program was gonna, what the program was gonna look like. But they’d at least made that commitment that yes, there was, um, there was something that they wanted to work on with us. Uh, and so we built this out using what they call a co-development model. So rather than the government doing this in isolation, building out a, a program that they felt would meet the needs of our community, they wanted to really work closely with us, um, and us being kind of the, the Canadian, uh, truist, L G B T LGBTQ I business ecosystem, uh, work with us to flesh out what this program should look like. 

Darrell Schuurman:    00:09:26    So we had, um, several partners, uh, other organizations across the country, uh, that advise the government on what we felt this program should look like. So this is, um, so when we, when we look at what this program has kind of rolled out to be, that was developed by, you know, a handful of other organizations, other 2SLGBTQ+ I organizations that focus on entrepreneurship and business. So, um, so these conversations started in the fall, and I would say that we had the, the, the rough framework, um, built out by kind of March of, of this year. Um, so really a lot of this has been happening over the last several months. Uh, we’re still kind of, uh, you know, so the minister, as you pointed out and made the announcement in June, uh, there’s still things that have been fine tuned and, and, and tweaked over the last, uh, even since then. Uh, but essentially we’re really excited to be able to announce that in June. Um, now the, the reality is, is that there’s still a lot of work to, to kind of get to where we need to be, to be able to fully roll out all the different elements. But we’ve already started the work on, on kind of delivering and, and, uh, executing some of those activities. So, 

Calan Breckon:    00:10:40    Okay. Well, speaking of those activities, uh, let’s dive in a little bit deeper. Now. There are three main kind of programs attached to this grant that you announced, which, uh, it is the Business Scale Up program, the ecosystem fund, and the Knowledge Hub. So I want to dive a little bit deeper into each one so that people can, can get an understanding of what’s actually a part of the program in general as a whole, and then also in these three kind of different sectors that you’re gonna be working through. So let’s first talk about the Business Scale Up program, and what’s the focus of this program and what can folks expect from it? 

Darrell Schuurman:    00:11:17    Yeah, so I should, so this, the entire fund is, is $25 million, and this runs over three years. So it goes till March, 2026. Um, and so of these three funds, so the, the scale up, um, uh, pillar, if you will, uh, is valued at around 11 and a half million dollars. And that is really meant to, to deliver programs and, and, um, services kind of at the national level. And rolling those out kind of nationally to support our businesses really being able to start and scale up, um, so that they can, the supports that they need, whether it’s from a mentorship component or whether it’s from a, uh, access into global markets, it’s really strengthening the, the programs, the services, the offerings, uh, kind of done at, kind of at the national level. So this is work that CGLCC will be directly delivering. 

Darrell Schuurman:    00:12:18    Um, so I can give you a few kind of, of the core elements. So I mentioned mentorship, mentorship is gonna be a big element of what we’re gonna be building out. Um, we have a, we currently do have a, a, a youth mentorship program, which you’re familiar with. Yep. I’m part of it. I’m one of the mentees. There you go, <laugh>. So, you know, so you have a little bit of a taste of, you know, the, the importance of mentorship. And we know that from the research that we, we just talked about, one of the biggest gaps that we’ve identified that TRU US, L G G B T Q I entrepreneurs, uh, face is access to mentorship. So we’re really filling that gap. So we’re taking what we, our, our youth mentorship program and really making it accessible, um, to, to all two S LGBTQ+ I entrepreneurs, so not just youth. 

Darrell Schuurman:    00:13:06    So we’ll still have the youth program, but we’re going to be expanding, um, our ability to serve kind of all, uh, career entrepreneurs through mentorship. So that will be a big element. Um, and again, that will be a national, a national program, bringing in mentors and mentees, um, and not sure what it’s gonna look like, to be honest. ’cause that’s part of what this exercise will look like, whether it’s going to be cohorts, whether it’s gonna be self-directed and a regular intake. Not sure yet. Um, but we’re expecting that over the course of the three years, we’ll have hundreds of people that will, uh, have gone through this process. And we’ll have, um, a really strong network and database of, of mentors available and ready to support our, our, our entrepreneurs. So mentorship is one piece. Um, certainly our supplier diversity program and access to corporate procurement is another big piece. 

Darrell Schuurman:    00:14:00    So we’re gonna be able to strengthen that. So we’ll be delivering certification again nationally, um, and especially in areas that where, to be honest, are underrepresented. So in terms of if we’re looking in Atlanta, Canada, in Northern Canada, where, um, we’ve had, where we feel that there are gaps, um, so we’ll be, we’ll be working in, in, in some of those regions, um, to really be able to deliver certification. And, and what that means is helping to connect to S LGBTQ+ owned businesses with corporate procurement opportunities. So supplier diversity, um, global Global’s. Another big piece that we’ll be, we’ll be delivering under this, under this pillar, and that is really to support our businesses accessing international marketplaces. So that means helping to put them through an incubator program. So we’ll be updating our incubator, our global incubator program, and delivering that, uh, several times a year to businesses that are interested about going global and need to know, you know, need to know more about it, need to know kind of what are some of the skills and, um, uh, knowledge that they need to, to be able to deliver that. 

Darrell Schuurman:    00:15:15    Uh, and then actually conducting two trade missions a year for the next three years. So, very excited about that. We have an up, this is my plug for our upcoming trade mission. 

Calan Breckon:    00:15:25    We actually just went on the upcoming trade mission to Denver, and it was fantastic, wasn’t it, Darryl 

Darrell Schuurman:    00:15:31    <laugh>? It was, it was so exciting. And so, um, I am so glad that you’re able to be part of that, and I think it was some great success. And so that is, uh, that is just the, the tip of the iceberg. And so over the next three years, we’re gonna be, we’re gonna be doing these trade missions, uh, across, uh, across the globe. And so stay tuned for, for the next exciting destination. Yeah, 

Calan Breckon:    00:15:53    And I’ll say that, I will say that that is probably one of the best things about me being in the mentee mentee program, um, the youth program. I’m really excited that I do get to take part in a lot of these because that I find on my entrepreneurial journey, because I’ve been a solo entrepreneur, I work from home, it’s very isolating. And I don’t think people really realize how big of a difference it can be. Just meeting people in person and the spaces that, um, not only the CGLCC, but the N G L C C, which is the trade mission that just happened in Denver, these spaces that provides people to the opportunity to come together and to meet and to get together. And that’s where a lot of those connections do happen. And then, I don’t want to say, you know, that’s where business deals happen, but it’s be, it’s because the personality of the energy of being in it, that that’s how you can meet people and that’s how business can come about. And that’s so important to put your name out there and to be able to be seen. Um, and so I just wanna say that I’m very excited for more of those <laugh>. 

Darrell Schuurman:    00:16:57    Well, no, and that, and that’s great. And I think that that kind lens, uh, leads nicely into kind of the, the last area, which is just really about strengthening the network, um, and providing more opportunities for our businesses to connect, um, domestically or internationally. Um, but also then for us to be able to support them with capacity building development opportunities, um, all the skills and, and knowledge that they need to help to continue to develop themselves so that they can continue to grow and be successful. So that’s, those are kind of some of the elements that are gonna be taking place under the, under that pillar, under the grow the ecosystem, or, sorry, uh, under the, uh, scale-up 

Calan Breckon:    00:17:38    Scale Up The scale up, yeah. The business scale up. Wow. Okay. So that has a lot in there. ’cause I was really curious, um, ’cause I was gonna ask like, why I’m in the youth mentorship program, so how was that going to change? And I do like that it is granting access to everybody. Like there’s not gonna be a limit and that you’re still gonna have the youth program, but it’s gonna open it up to a lot more people. Um, I’m, that makes me really, really excited. ’cause obviously I’m gonna graduate from the youth program, um, coming up here, I think in a month or two. When does that end? October-ish. It, 

Darrell Schuurman:    00:18:08    It is, uh, I believe October. And I believe that we’re planning our, our little like, celebratory graduation, if I’m not mistaken right now, so Oh, 

Calan Breckon:    00:18:17    Wow. Okay. I’m very, very excited. I’m sad, but I’m also very, very excited. So, yeah. The one big question that I do have about this is that there’s a lot going on. There’s a lot to help and support. What if it, I don’t know if maybe this is in the other, um, areas, but is there any actual like direct access grants that you will be giving to businesses in any term? Whether that is in this specific business scale up program or in any of the other programs? 

Darrell Schuurman:    00:18:43    So again, we know from our research that access to capital is a big barrier for, for many businesses. And so that is something that we certainly looked at. And when we’re going through the development stage and the, the co-development, uh, process, um, we, we flag this, the reality is, the unfortunate reality is, is that $25 million, which sounds like a lot of money, does not go very far when you’re trying to develop programs, um, deliver programming. Uh, and we know that the need is, is significant. So un unfortunately, there is no direct granting or loan program built into this particular program. Um, but what we have done and what we will be doing is, uh, building out a program that looks at, uh, some type of investment model that could work, um, that we could develop, and, sorry, that we could deliver, um, post this, this project. 

Darrell Schuurman:    00:19:41    So, um, essentially we will do the research, we’ll, we’ll identify what is the best model for some type of investment loan grant, uh, type of, of structure to look like what works best for, um, the Canadian landscape for, for our two s LGBTQ entrepreneurs. Um, do all the groundwork so that way that once we’re done, we can actually go back to the federal government, say, okay, this is what is needed. This is the model that works well, now we just need to fund it, so mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Um, so it’s, it’s not ideal. And I know a lot of our, our two s LGBTQI plus entrepreneurs and businesses are, are looking for that, that investment or looking for those grants or that funding. Um, so we’re working on it. It just won’t be unfortunately, directly part of, of this program. 

Calan Breckon:    00:20:31    Yeah, and I mean, I do hear that because in order to develop everything you’re developing, it’s like, it’s this injection you needed to really kind of build up a lot of these programs. It’s like building the foundational pieces so that later on down the road you can facilitate those kinds of things, whether it’s it’s grants or whether it’s even just having the f the necessary information for people to get access to loans as part of the mentorship program, and then you get mentored through how to actually use that money appropriately. I will say that, um, I went through the Future preneur program, and that was probably one of the biggest assets in regards to getting that loan for my business, was having access to my mentor that came along with the program, because then we could work together to actually figure out where is this money going? Why is it going there? Where’s the most intelligent, smart place to put this money? And how is it actually gonna move things forward for your business? Um, I think that that’s a, a really crucial part when you’re developing a program. If there’s gonna be like grants or loans involved, it can’t just be like, oh, okay, well here’s your money and like, have a good time. ’cause you never know how it’s gonna actually turn out in that regard. Right, 

Darrell Schuurman:    00:21:38    Exactly. So we wanna make sure that we’re, we’re doing this one justice, so we’re taking our, our doing our due diligence, taking the time working with the great partners like entrepreneur to find out, you know, what worked, what didn’t. Um, and there are other, you know, I mentioned the, the Women entrepreneurship, um, program and the black entrepreneurship program, and there are some type of loan programs under those as well. So that’ll all be part of this exercise is kind of looking at, you know, how are they set up, does that work? But then making sure that we’re looking at does that work for us, um, for our community. So, yeah. Um, so we will be doing a lot of work around this and that. The hope is, and, and my goal is, is that we’ll be able to then have this funded by the time that this, this program ends. 

Calan Breckon:    00:22:23    Yeah. And this leads actually really quite nicely into the next question about ecosystem, which is the next one is the ecosystem fund and what this program looks at achieving with inside of the, the big scheme of things. 

Darrell Schuurman:    00:22:36    Yeah, and, and to be honest, I would say that this is really the core of what this funding and what this program is meant to do. It is, um, meant to, so this particular program is supporting the broader ecosystem, and when we, when I’m talking ecosystem, I’m talking about those organizations, those, uh, two s LGBTQI plus, um, business organizations that are there to support our businesses. Um, and we know when we’ve done, when we’ve done a scan of those support organizations across the, across the country, we know that, um, first of all, that there’s areas that there are just no supports or no organizations at all. Um, in others, they’re, they’re struggling, um, struggling with resources, with, uh, capacity, with governance, model structure issues. Um, and so what this pillar is meant to do is really strengthen those organizations that are supporting our businesses on the day-to-day basis, um, locally, regionally. 

Darrell Schuurman:    00:23:44    Uh, so this is going to be such a critical piece of the work that we’re doing. So, you know, we talked about we’re not giving grants, we’re unfortunately not able to give grants to entrepreneurs directly, but we, where we are granting are to organizations that are supporting entrepreneurs. So that’s where this pillar, that’s eight and a half million dollars will be focused. We’ll be there to support those businesses, again, that are, um, looking for support, whether it’s to hire staff, whether it’s to, um, develop programming, to deliver programming, um, maybe it’s even to start up the organization and formally launch the organization. All meant to create at the end of this, to create a strong national network of, of organizations, of other nonprofit organizations that are there solely for the purpose of supporting us, LGBTQI plus entrepreneurs and businesses. 

Calan Breckon:    00:24:43    Wow, that sounds pretty amazing, because that’s where a lot of that groundwork is gonna come from, is these organizations that help support. It’s not just the CGLCC, it’s everybody collectively together. Um, you succeed so much more in a community. I learned that many times over that together we’re stronger and we, by supporting each other, we get a lot further. So the eco fund sounds like that’s gonna be doing a lot of that work of finding those organizations that just need help or tweaks or a grant in some regard in order to get the staff they need or the extra person who’s gonna take them to that next level and that kind of a thing. Um, that’s really amazing. I love that. 

Darrell Schuurman:    00:25:24    Yeah, no, absolutely. And, and you’re right. Like, you know, us as a national organization, you know, we just, we can’t be everywhere. Um, and that’s not our, our mandate necessarily. So if we have a strong network that we can, that we can work through and that we can support, um, you know, so we can deliver and develop programming that then we can funnel down to regional organizations and local organizations, that’s where we’re gonna start to see some of that real impact. Um, and it’s in those areas that, again, that, you know, uh, we’re both based in, in Toronto and, but there are regions outside of, uh, of larger metropolitan centers that there’s huge needs for. So how can we build supports for, you know, areas in, in northern Manitoba or in, in, um, the territories or in Atlanta to Canada where there is no existing organization. So, um, and then having that body there makes it so much more accessible for those, those queer entrepreneurs that are in those regions, in those areas. So, mm-hmm. <affirmative> very excited about this one. Yeah. 

Calan Breckon:    00:26:32    Um, and I can only imagine that the next one we’re gonna talk about is gonna help a lot of that as well, because the next one is building a knowledge hub. Um, and so I can only assume that this is, is gonna be a huge part and a huge help to those kind of like, you know, digital life has brought us all closer together, but further apart, it’s this weird <laugh>, this is a weird vibe. Um, but, you know, it gives access to a lot of people who are in those places where they can’t physically be in Toronto or be in the big cities. They can get online, they can access these kinds of support systems and these things. Um, but like I said before, there is such importance for the also physical to be there. Um, but let’s dive into the knowledge hub now. So what’s this aspect of the grant program gonna be, uh, in regards to supporting LGBTQ plus or two s lgbtq lgbtqiaa A plus entrepreneurs? 

Darrell Schuurman:    00:27:22    Yeah. And, and so this is the last pillar. Um, this is the one that I think there’s a, there’s huge opportunities here. And, you know, I think in my mind, I’ll probably summarize it into kind of two core buckets. Um, for this one, one will be really that creating more, um, uh, data, getting more data, getting more research on lgbtqi plus entrepreneurs and, and businesses. Um, so I, you know, at the top of the show, you know, we talked about the, the, the research that we’ve done, which is good. Um, but there needs to be so much more to, to really have a true understanding of what’s happening across the country. You know, our data looks at, it’s, it’s national, um, but we haven’t, we weren’t able to kind of delve deeper into what’s happening locally or regionally. Um, so that’s one of the things I want to see. 

Darrell Schuurman:    00:28:16    I want to see us having a real strong understanding of what’s happening in some of those areas in, in Alberta, in northern, um, in northern Manitoba, Northern Saskatchewan, you know, what is the environment like there, and what are the unique challenges and barriers that those entrepreneurs are facing that are realistically gonna be very different from the challenges entrepreneurs are facing in Toronto. Um, so being able to have that, that deeper understanding, that deeper, um, analysis of the, the data is gonna be really critical. Um, I think on the, on the flip side, then, this is also gonna be, you know, it’s called the knowledge hub. And so what it’s also gonna be, it’s gonna be basically a collection of, of resources and, and data that are there to support, um, not only to support kind of other, um, business organizations that are trying to support entrepreneurs, but also supporting directly entrepreneurs with, with tools, with, um, access to, um, support that they can use within their own business, within their own organization to grow. 

Darrell Schuurman:    00:29:23    Um, so it could be a collaboration on, or a could be a, um, uh, uh, what, what’s the word I’m looking for? A collection? Collection is the word. Yeah. A collection of, of, you know, uh, educational tools that, that they can apply, that they can, um, watch and, and learn around how to, you know, continue to grow their business. So, um, so I think that those are kind of the, kind of oversimplifying the two elements, uh, of this program. Essentially what we’ll be doing is we’ll be working with an educational, uh, institution, uh, or more, uh, there’s $3 million under this bucket to kind of flush, uh, to, to deliver this. And so, um, there’s lots of opportunity to really kind of flush and strengthen, flush this out and strengthen, um, you know, what we’re, what we can see to, to move that, the, the dial in terms of that data and that access to information for, for our businesses. 

Calan Breckon:    00:30:24    Yeah. And that’s really important. I’ve, uh, I’ve been part of multiple, like, membership kind of like communities and experiences and, um, their membership hubs that they have where you can go in and you kind of, sometimes you can go at your own pace or they have courses in there, and it’s all laid out really nicely. I think the key to creating anything in that kind of sense, if that’s, you know, one of the things that comes about is making it super easy and always thinking about their journey and what are they going on. So it’s like laying things out in a way that’s like, okay, well start here and then go here. Um, but that’s a great, a great tool that I’ve utilized in multiple spaces. Uh, and I know that it’ll be a huge asset here. The interesting part was, I didn’t realize that it was gonna be a lot of data and research, and I think that that’s gonna be a really important part, uh, of this, because taking it forward, like you said, this isn’t just this next three years, this is this next three years and beyond that. And so you need to figure that out and collect that data so that in three years it can be like, okay, well where are we continuing to grow? 

Darrell Schuurman:    00:31:23    E e exactly. And, and I should also mention that, and, and this kind of spans all three pillars, but, um, including the research element is, you know, I talked about kind of some of those geographical gaps in terms of, um, you know, supports, but we’re also a big piece of what all of this is gonna be looking at and making sure that we’re engaging, um, and identifying areas where we need better support for our more marginalized community members. Um, so we’re talking intersectionality. And so, um, you know, looking at queer, black, indigenous people of color, um, looking at our trans community and really getting a better sense of, you know, how, what are some of those challenges that they’re facing, how can we better support them? And then delivering on some of that, under those other pillars, uh, making sure that we have those supports, those, um, those tools, those resources available for them as well. So, um, and that is gonna be a big piece of, of this, so not only kind of the geographic, make sure that we’re all fully national, but also making sure that we’re fully encompassing and supporting our entire LGBTQI plus, uh, business community. 

Calan Breckon:    00:32:38    That’s great. I love it. Um, you talked a little earlier in the first, uh, the business scale up program that there’s certifications that are gonna be part of that. Um, so I wanna know more. If somebody wanted to get certified from the CGLCC as a supplier, what options do they have? Um, because I know I am a certified diverse supplier, which means my business is 51% or more owned and operated by somebody of the LGBTQ plus, uh, community. I had to go through a whole certification program, lots of details I had to go through, and, uh, somebody sat down and went through everything to make sure that it all lined up. Um, but what other options do people have if maybe they’re not owned and operated, but they want to support the community and kind of what are those processes for the two different ones? 

Darrell Schuurman:    00:33:23    Yeah, for sure. So, so the, the Supplier diversity program, which you were talking about, is our certification program, which is basically verifying that the business is 51% owned, operated, and controlled by a member or members that identify as the, as part of the two s LGBTQI plus, um, community. And so, um, this certification model and, and, and supplier diversity broadly, it is, it is a, it’s a global, um, a global strategy, a global program. Um, so there are other organizations that certify other diverse owned businesses. So, uh, whether they’re women owned business, indigenous, black owned businesses, there are organizations that certify those majority owned, um, businesses as well. And the whole concept here is really to help create, um, a level playing field and create access and opportunities to corporate and government procurement. Um, we know that diverse owned businesses broadly, and, you know, in our case, um, LGBTQ+ owned businesses, uh, specifically are underrepresented in corporate and public supply chain. 

Darrell Schuurman:    00:34:33    So this certification pro, um, program is meant to help to create those opportunities to, to, um, to level that, that playing field like I talked and create those opportunities for our businesses to, to grow. So, um, so that’s the certification piece, um, the supply diversity certification piece, um, but as you mentioned, yes. So that is limited to those businesses that are majority owned, operative and controlled. Um, we do have another program, which is called Rainbow Registered, uh, accreditation Program. And essentially what that program is, it is looking at those organizations, those businesses of, of any size in any industry, in any sector, um, that really have, um, rigorous, uh, L G B T, uh, pol inclusive policies and practices. It is meant to help to recognize those businesses that are, are safe spaces that are, have, um, really prioritize the need to, to be an inclusive company. 

Darrell Schuurman:    00:35:42    Um, and so we are, we act as, uh, we verify that, that the company has those policies, those practices in place, um, as opposed to those companies that may just say, okay, I’m gonna slap the, the rainbow flag on my window or on my door, you know, for perhaps a month, you know, during pride. You know, this is really helping to verify that yes, these companies do in fact have those policies and practices in place, um, to, um, not only from a a customer perspective, but from an employee perspective. So, um, customers or employees can know that if you’re, you’re, you know, doing business with that company, if you’re looking to be employed with that company, that these are places that are welcoming and safe for you as a, as a member of the two S LGBTQ+ I, uh, community. So, um, two different programs. One specifically focused on, you know, kind of that, um, LGBTQ+ ownership, the other is really focused around inclusive policies and practices open to any company, uh, within Canada. 

Calan Breckon:    00:36:48    Yeah, and I will attest to the certification. It really does open the doors. Like I didn’t realize how, um, many organizations, big corporate organizations are part of the program. And it just opened the doors to me in a way that I never would’ve had access before be before I was in the certification program. I do want to say I made a note, um, about the, the Rainbow registered. It would be really interesting to see if like Pride across Canada or Pride Toronto would do something. Like, if a company wants to be in the parade, they have to be Rainbow registered, because to me, going to the Pride Parade, it has become majorly corporatized, which, you know, it’s fine, people gotta make money and all that, but I would like it to, I would like to know that it’s like, okay, well, at least I know that they’re all Rainbow registered, which means that there’s been due diligence to find out what they actually do inside of their organization. Do you have any idea of maybe the percentage or how many actually are 

Darrell Schuurman:    00:37:48    I don’t <laugh> and I, I, I won’t even, I won’t even try to make up an answer, but, you know, I think, but you’re absolutely right. And I think that, um, there’s so much opportunity with this program. This program just launched, um, I’m gonna say last year, but maybe my timing is off. But it is a very new program, and I think that there’s a lot of potential here, um, to be honest. Uh, and I think that, I know that we have had conversations with various pride organizations, uh, across the country, um, for very much that, that what you’re talking about is how do we, you know, it’s in part like how do we make sure that we’re kind of walking that talk, right? Yeah. Um, and that we’re actually demonstrating that, hey, you know, if we’re, if we’re trying to create a, uh, an inclusive space, let’s make sure that we’ve done some due diligence and this is a way, this is a tool that we can leverage to help ensure that. 

Darrell Schuurman:    00:38:41    Um, but we’re also having those same conversations with large corporates as well, that have, especially those, uh, large corporates that have, uh, consumer facing, um, elements or, or branches or outlets, um, making sure that we can, we can really work with them to try to provide that, again, that safe space, um, not just at the corporate level, but kind of broadly and across, um, across the country where they’re having those direct interactions with the community community, um, whether internally or externally. So, so there’s a, there’s a lot of potential, a lot of potential here. And we’re, uh, I think you’re just, we’re just seeing the, the tip of the iceberg right now. 

Calan Breckon:    00:39:22    Good. I didn’t realize it was such a brand new program, but I definitely would be one to say, if I’m giving a company my money, I want to know where it’s going, especially around pride time, like all year round, but around pride time, if I had that, it would just add that little extra bit for me to be like, well, you know, I know that something’s gone on to know that they actually care about the community and that they’re not just here taking our dollars. ’cause, you know, there’s, we contribute 22 billion, like there’s a lot going on there. So everybody’s trying to get their fingers into the cookie jar. 

Darrell Schuurman:    00:39:53    There is, and you know, and I think where we’re now working towards is how do we, how do we continue to support the two programs together? And so when we have a rainbow registered business, one of the things that we’re talking to them about is, you know, where are you buying your goods and services from? Can you be procuring, um, some services from within the LGBTQ+ business community? So, uh, no longer does it need to be just focused on the, the, the large corporates or governments, um, any size of business should really be thinking of where am I, where am I buying these, these products or services from, and can I be more deliberate in where I’m buying and who I’m buying from? Um, you know, if you’re trying to support, um, marginalized community groups and diverse business owners, be conscious about where you’re purchasing from and look to see is there, is there a diverse business that, uh, I could be buying from? And that’s part of what we’ll be doing, is helping to facilitate that in some respect, um, for our Rainbow registered, uh, businesses. 

Calan Breckon:    00:40:59    Amazing. And I’m sure that that’s all gonna get baked, that’s all baked inside of the, the, um, the grant programs as well that we talked about. So with that, how, I know that you’ve gotta be expanding the C G L C huge, hugely. Uh, I know you made an announcement at the summit that it was gonna be quite a large number of staff that you were gonna be adding and all of that. So with expanding so dramatically in order to facilitate and grow these programs, what types of positions are you looking to fill and what expertise are you looking for support in the organization at this time? Because I know that that’s gotta be a huge thing on your plate right now, is just getting the people to start doing this work. 

Darrell Schuurman:    00:41:42    Yeah, that is the, that is the focus right now. You know, um, you know, we talked about the timing. There wasn’t a lot of timing by the time, um, you know, when the minister made the announcement. Um, you know, over the last two months we’ve been really trying to crank it out, I guess, <laugh>, um, to try to, to get, um, US set up so we can start delivering this. ’cause we know that time is ticking, uh, this, this program, these funds end, uh, March 31st, 2026. And so we wanna make sure that we’re creating the biggest impact that we can in that short period of time. Um, so which means that for us, there’s, there is gonna be some scaling up for us to do. Um, and we will be, uh, I think by the end of this year, we’ll probably be close to a team of 40 that are delivering, that are working on and delivering so many of these, these elements that we talked about. 

Darrell Schuurman:    00:42:39    Um, and a big piece of that will be, you know, I talked about that ecosystem. So we’ll have team members that are out there engaging with the broader, uh, community and organizations out there to find out how we can support them and, and, you know, work with them around, um, grant opportunities for their, for their nonprofit organizations. Um, we’ll have team that are out there, you know, connecting with our business community and really doing that outreach. We know that, to be honest, one of the biggest challenges that we face is just, um, identifying those businesses that identify as LGBTQ+. Um, and ’cause there is still that very much that hesitation to self-identify. Um, we know our businesses, uh, continue to face, um, discrimination. Um, we know that, uh, I think it’s one in three have actually lost contracts because of having L G B T ownership. 

Darrell Schuurman:    00:43:32    So that hesitation to self-identify is very real. Um, so that’s gonna be a big piece of, of, uh, of what we’re gonna be doing. And, and where we’ll be staffing up is just team to outreach to the broader community to, to inform them about the work that, uh, we’re doing and why it’s important for them as a queer business owner to to self-identify and start to work with us and our ecosystem partners. Um, and there’s going to be, um, you know, uh, project managers to kind of lead a lot of the development of things like the mentorship program, um, continue to expand our global program. So there’s a lot of different roles that we’re gonna be hiring in a variety of different capacities. We have, um, you know, some, some coordinator roles, some administrative roles. Uh, we have, um, uh, uh, grant coordinator roles, uh, as well as some senior leadership roles as well, um, including the, uh, chief operating Officer, which will be hiring core as well. 

Darrell Schuurman:    00:44:35    So, um, the whole gamut can be found on our website. This is my shameless plug for the website, uh, Um, but, you know, I just encourage people to, to take a look and see, um, you know, if there’s, if they’re interested in getting involved, whether it’s through, uh, one of the jobs that we have, or just finding out how they can be part of this exciting and, and monumental, and I think this really is a monumental, um, uh, activity. And we, it’s not lost in me. This, um, you know, kind of what the government has done, um, is very important for our community. And so we wanna make sure that, um, we’re hearing and engaging as many of our community as possible to help to deliver this, to help to shape this, um, and to create that, that significant impact that we know we can have. 

Calan Breckon:    00:45:26   I’m gonna make sure that, uh, the website is in the show notes for anybody who’s curious or looking and wants to either support the CGLCC get certified themselves or wants to go look at the, the board of job opportunities. ’cause I’m sure they’re gonna continue trickling out as more people come. What’s the, what’s the team now like? The team number now? 

Darrell Schuurman:    00:45:53    So we are at, uh, well, it, it, it’s starting to change daily. We, we just hired somebody yesterday, but I think we’re at 12 or 13 now. Okay. Um, so we’re getting there. So 

Calan Breckon:    00:46:06    You’re like quadrupling to like 40 <laugh> ish. Ish. Wow. That’s amazing. Well, Darryl, I wanna, 

Darrell Schuurman:    00:46:12    I used to have more hair than this, you know, that <laugh> 

Calan Breckon:    00:46:16    Hey, you still have hair? It’s great. We’re good. <laugh>. Wow. 

Darrell Schuurman:    00:46:19    <laugh>. 

Calan Breckon:    00:46:19    Well, Darrell, it has been such a pleasure. I just wanna thank you so much for being a guest on the podcast. I know that a lot of people are curious and interested about, you know, these programs and how they can actually help, uh, two s lgbtqia plus entrepreneurs in Canada. Um, so thank you for doing the work that you do. I personally thank you so much for doing the work you do, because this program has just changed so many things in my business and the access that I have and the people I’ve met, and the business that has come towards me since then has been monumental. And I’m just so excited to see how it grows and to help continue support, you know, once I graduate my mentorship program, uh, to continue support in helping the organization grow. So thank you for being on the show today. 

Darrell Schuurman:    00:47:04    Well, thank you for, for having me. You know, I really appreciate this, you know, an opportunity to, to share what we’re doing and to share this program. Um, and I’m so glad to hear about, you know, to hear the, the success that you’ve been having, that that, you know, at the end of the day, that’s what this is all about. That is what we’re in business for. It is to, to help support our, our businesses, be successful, uh, and to be part of that, the Canadian economy. So, um, so thank you for helping to facilitate, uh, me spreading the word and, and sharing kind of the work that we do to help them. So 

Calan Breckon:    00:47:39    Thank you. Awesome. Well, yes, it’s, I’m very excited to do so. Um, so yeah, thank you for being on the show today.

Calan Breckon:   00:48:00     What a fantastic and amazing, you know, place. I live in Canada, I’m so grateful to be here and that our government has invested in programs like this. Um, it just makes me so excited to hear everything that Darryl shared with us about the program and what we can look forward to, uh, for the next three years with the CGLCC in developing these amazing programs for entrepreneurs. Um, I want to make sure that you check out more information at the CGLCC website. So if you want to know more, uh, if you wanna become a certified diverse supplier or get Rainbow registered or find out more about the organization, you can go to That’ll be in the show notes for you, the link, and if you’re looking for job opportunities, make sure you go there as well. ’cause like Darryl said, they’re growing very, very quickly. So there’s jobs going up all the time on the website. Thanks again for tuning in today. Don’t forget to hit those likes and subscribe buttons, and if you really enjoyed today’s episode, give it a star rating. I would really, really appreciate it. As this is a new podcast, it really helps the algorithm, um, lets Apple and Spotify and everybody know that this is a great podcast. So that’s it for me. Peace, love, rainbows, and have a magical day, everybody.

Calan Breckon
Calan Breckon

Calan Breckon is an SEO Specialist and host of "The Business Gay" podcast. He has worked with companies such as Cohere and Canada Life and has been a guest on the "Online Marketing Made Easy" podcast with Amy Porterfield as well as featured in publications like Authority Magazine and CourseMethod.

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