In a first of a kind program, the U.S. Agency for International Development will donate $1.2 million to a partnership that will help LGBT-owned businesses in developing countries. 

The partnership, with the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, based in Washington, D.C., will provide a total of $4 million for business development in Colombia, Mexico, and Peru, with more countries soon to follow. NGLCC will donate the balance of the funds.

The goals of the effort are multifaceted. In addition to helping businesses in the U.S. become trading partners with LGBT businesses in the program countries, it would encourage the overseas businesses to become suppliers to multi-national corporations, as well as prompt engagement with companies and government agencies in their home countries. 

Economic programs for LGBT-owned businesses in developing countries are important because this group is often severely economically disadvantaged in many regions, particularly Africa and the Middle East. Many also live under the threat of imprisonment or death. In 80 countries, discrimination against LGBT people is part of law, and homosexuality is punishable by death in seven countries.

National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice announced the USAID partnership in remarks at the White House Forum on Global LGBT Human Rights on Tuesday. She explained the partnership this way:

Through the Global Equality Fund and the LGBT Global Development Partnership, the United States is working with government and private sector partners to advance equality and human rights protections worldwide. The Fund provides emergency assistance to activists in more than 50 countries. Now, we’re launching new efforts to help civil society build partnerships with local faith communities, business leaders, and health care providers to enhance protections for LGBT rights. And, thanks to a new partnership between the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce and USAID, we will provide business development training and build new networks to help economically empower the LGBT community. 

The partnership hopes to create a self-sustaining LGBT Chamber of Commerce in each country. It also plans to develop a linked international LGBT supplier diversity program, as well as to perform capacity building, partnership building and business development training, among other things.

NGLCC will devote $2 million in privately raised funds to the partnership,  as well as $692,000 in-kind and program services.