Africa’s first ever LGBTI business network set to launch, on IDAHOT 2017

[Johannesburg] – Africa’s first ever business network for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex [LGBTI] people and their allies, is set to be launched on this year’s International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia [IDAHOT]. The network, named PLUS. the LGBTI+ Business Network, is an initiative of The Other Foundation, an African trust that advances equality and freedom in southern Africa, with a particular focus on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The Other Foundation believes that everyone should be free to live a safe and dignified life, have a family and make their contribution to society. With the theme for IDAHOT this year being on families, – and recognizing that the foundation for the good quality of life for any family lies in its ability to economically sustain itself – it is crucial that LGBTI people and their families have equal opportunities to do business and prosper, and that they have safe and non-discriminatory work environments. However, LGBTI people continue to be face discrimination and homophobia, in business and at their places of work. This ultimately sidelines them and their families, from economic opportunities, and causes harm to their wellbeing.

PLUS, aims not only to empower LGBTI people to become more active within the business sector in South Africa, but also to address the homophobia and discrimination that still exists, in the workplace. Much as positive legal and policy reform pertaining to sexual minorities has occurred within South African society, there is a growing urgency in the need to reform policies that discriminate against LGBTI people at their places of work, or discriminate against them from accessing economic opportunities.

“In South Africa, LGBTI people have begun organizing themselves into employee affinity groups, so as to stand up for, and claim their rights. In the same space, there are also flourishing, small LGBTI businesses, and a growing desire by the business sector to tap into LGBTI markets” says Neville Gabriel, CEO of the Other Foundation. PLUS, recognizes the importance of these affinity groups, not only in creating equitable work environments, but also in creating the kind of accountability that will reform company procurement policies, making supply chains more diverse and inclusive.

“We are pleased to be in collaboration with affinity groups at leading companies, such as Anglo-American, EY, Norton Rose Fulbright, and Shell, amongst others learning from them and using them to develop models to establish affinity groups, in other companies,” says Shekeshe Mokgosi, the Other Foundation’s Public Engagement Manager. “The establishment, and success of these affinity groups demonstrates that corporates can reform their policies to make their supply chains more diverse, and their human resources policies more inclusive, while still making good business sense” he says.

PLUS, is set to be launched at the Norton Rose Fulbright offices in Sandton, Johannesburg, to commemorate IDAHOT, and officially announce itself as the new kid on the South African business block.

Background

In April, 2016, the Other Foundation convened a working group of LGBTI business owners and entrepreneurs in Cape Town, to establish a national LGBTI Business Network. To boost the benefits offered by the network, an agreement was signed with the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce [NGLCC] of the United States of America, and there have also been discussions with Stonewall in Britain, about a similar collaboration on workplace issues.

Since then, the network has set itself up, and LGBTI groups in a few big companies have come forward to be part of the initiative. PLUS has held meetings in Johannesburg, Durban and Port Elizabeth, to recruit members and champions for the network in major South African cities ahead of it launch, this IDAHOT.

Our Mission

To champion, promote, support, and empower South African LGBTI business owners and entrepreneurs with valuable opportunities to learn, network, do business and prosper, contributing to the redress of the structural social and economic injustice of our past.

Our Vision

To build a dynamic, thriving and visible South African LGBTI business community for an inclusive, free and equitable society that celebrates.

Our Values

Equality, Freedom, Respect for human rights, Community pride, Belief in the value and talents of the LGBTI community, Empowerment and mentorship, Professionalism, Excellence, Credibility, Bridge-building, Collaborative power, Creativity.

Our focus areas

  • Advocacy to normalize the business environment, so as to enable it to support LGBTI businesses;
  • Advancement of LGBTI businesses, through long term mentoring and coaching;
  • Establishing and linking with a network of workplace LGBTI groups;
  • Promotion of supplier diversity;
  • Accreditation of LGBTI suppliers
  • Establishing a network of LGBTI suppliers;
  • Enterprise development, including technical support, mentoring/coaching, training and market development;
  • Business-to-business networking, including value chain development.

Benefits

PLUS. offers a wide array of benefits and perks to corporate, non-corporate and private individuals, at tailored rates and packages. Membership benefits will include:

  • Mentorship and business development;
  • Accreditation as an LGBTI business supplier;
  • Access to local and international networking groups;
  • Free registration to annual business network gatherings and forums;
  • Registration on the NGLCC US LGBTI Supplier database;
  • Loyalty rewards and reduced rates for member products and services;
  • Communication about business opportunities.

For further enquiries contact the Other Foundation:

Shekeshe Mokgosi, Public Engagement Manager

+27 82 890 3406 or smokgosi@theotherfoundation.org