Economic empowerment & advocacy

LGBTI equality through economic empowerment

countries prohibit discrimination in employment because of sexual orientation (ILGA)

The US trans population faces a rate of unemployment 3 times higher than the general population (National Center for Transgender Equality, 2016)


of employed LGBT people in the EU experienced discrimination while at work (EU Agency for Fundamental Rights)

About LGBTI poverty

Micro Rainbow International’s previous studies into LGBTI poverty in Cambodia, Brazil and among refugees in the United Kingdom have supported the argument that there is a link between discrimination based on sexuality or gender identity and poverty. 

They also show that when poverty is combined with multiple forms of discrimination, such as gender, race, class and, most importantly, sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status, there develops a reality of massive socio-economic inequality and exclusion. Put simply, LGBTI people pay a higher price to step out of poverty.

About our economic empowerment and advocacy programme

After piloting and testing activities for over five years, we have shaped an LGBTI-centred economic empowerment and advocacy programme which includes the following activities:

Our economic empowerment programme is already showing three interesting results:

  • It creates new, practical and life-changing opportunities that do not exist locally (to improve skills, to improve chances to find jobs, to set up small businesses) for LGBTI people to step out of poverty. It is instrumental in improving the livelihoods of many poor LGBTI people;
  • It changes social attitudes and the negative stereotypes that society often associates with LGBTI people. In Cambodia for example society believes that LGBTI people are destined to be homeless, poor and at the margins of society. However, our programme shows that when people start to earn some money and help the family, the community and society financially, their status improves and there is greater acceptance;
  • It provides new data and life stories that are powerful tools for local advocacy for better rights.

Success stories

Case study

Lesbian refugee from Nigeria

Mary is a 28-year-old lesbian from Nigeria. In her home country she experienced persecution because of her sexual orientation. When Mary was a teenager her family and community found out she had a girlfriend. They

Latest updates

LGBTI micro-finance

LGBTI micro-finance

The article explains why LGBTI people in Cambodia are financially excluded and why they become or stay poor. It also explains what MRI is doing to ensure that LGBTI people can access micro-finance products to step out of poverty.

LGBTI economic empowerment in rural Cambodia

LGBTI economic empowerment in rural Cambodia

MRI visited and consulted with the LGBTI community in Somroung Yong district, which is part of the Takeo Province to tackle poverty of LGBTI people by providing technical support and financial assistance.

Andréa Brazil

Through the eyes of a trans activist

To celebrate Transgender Visibility Month, we share the story of a trans activist who joined our small business course and became a member of our Brazil team.


For any small business training enquiries please email

For any micro-finance enquiries please email

For any moving on enquiries please email