Breaking Ground & Leading the Movement: NGLCC Global Recap

| By Andy DiAntonio
As the business voice of the LGBT community and the largest global not-for-profit advocacy organization dedicated to expanding economic opportunities and advancements for LGBT people, NGLCC continues to blaze the way for LGBT economic inclusion both at home and overseas. Over the past year, we have seen many groundbreaking achievements, from introducing new legislation to opening new LGBT chambers of commerce for the first time.
 
In terms of firsts, this month, NGLCC’s official partner for Costa Rica, the Costa Rican Diverse Chamber of Commerce (CCDCR), held its first-annual LGBTI Trade Mission and Summit. The event took place in the capital city of San Jose from September 12th through 13th. Not only was this the first LGBT business event of its kind to take place in the region, but CCDCR is the first and only LGBT chamber of commerce in all of Central America. 
 
The business development event was a tremendous success, and welcomed approximately 100 attendees over the two days, including many LGBT and allied business owners, politicians, and community leaders. Notable guests included Costa Rican Vice President Ana Helena Chacón—an unwavering advocate for LGBT human rights—as well as the Honorable U.S. Ambassador S. Fitzgerald Haney, ambassadors from Argentina and Canada, and the resident representative from the United National Development Program (UNDP). The Canadian Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (CGLCC) and the Argentina Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (CCGLAR) also joined NGLCC for the occasion. 
 
In his opening remarks, Ambassador Haney shared, “Across the world, including in the United States and here in Costa Rica, hard work and perseverance [are] critical to ensure that the gains made for the LGBTI community are upheld and expanded until equal rights are achieved. For example, the U.S. business community continues to stand up against discriminatory laws passed in individual U.S. states that chip away at the full equality... When the business community finds it voice, its influence is profound.”
 
The Costa Rican LGBTI Trade Mission and Summit concluded with a historic dialogue among lawmakers at the Costa Rican Legislative Assembly on the future of LGBT human rights in the country. NGLCC’s Co-Founder and CEO, Chance Mitchell, share remarks, stating, “Characterized as a development success story by the World Bank, Costa Rica is now considered a middle-income country through its continued economic growth over the past few years. The NGLCC, in collaboration with the Costa Rican Diversity Chamber of Commerce, hopes to build on these achievements and support continued economic growth and prosperity in Costa Rica, including for the country’s LGBT community.
 
In other firsts, NGLCC’s official partner for Uruguay, the Uruguay LGBT Chamber of Commerce and Business (CCNLGBTU), also hosted its first-annual conference titled, “Uruguay LGBT: Business, Empowerment, Inclusion.” The country of Uruguay has a surprisingly long tradition of an open and inclusive culture.  As far back as 1934, Uruguay has had laws protecting the rights of its LGBTI citizens.  However, the concept of supplier diversity and the opportunities for LGBT owned business is a very new reality for this thriving country.  Last week the Uruguay LGBT Chamber of Commerce and Business held its first annual conference in the beautiful capitol city of Montevideo.  Representing the NGLCC was Rick Fowler, Vice President of Meetings and Education Programs.
 
Leaders from all of NGLCC’s burgeoning South American affiliate Chambers were present to give their insight on how best to increase opportunities for LGBT owned businesses in Uruguay.  Other international chambers represented included:  Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Peru, and Uruguay.  In addition, the power and financial economic gain of tourism and the LGBT market was a key component of the conference.
 
“It was an honor and a privilege to represent the NGLCC and be among the LGBTI business leaders and visionaries from the countries of South America.  The United States and Uruguay engage in heavy trading, both importing and exporting, with over $2.2 billion U.S. dollars of total bilateral trade each year.  With the efforts and support of the Uruguay LGBT Chamber of Commerce and Business the opportunities for LGBTI businesses in this country are endless,” said Fowler.
 
Throughout 2016, NGLCC has continued to break ground and lead the movement for LGBT economic inclusion both at home and overseas, and we look forward to celebrating these achievements as we do each year at the NGLCC National Dinner and Awards Gala, which will take place on Friday, November 18th at the stunning National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. Each year, this signature event acknowledges LGBT business owners and entrepreneurs, corporations and supplier diversity advocates, and government and community leaders. This year, as we celebrate 14 years of connecting LGBT business communities, NGLCC is delighted to announce another first: the inaugural NGLCC Global LGBTI Business Week. 
 
NGLCC's Global LGBTI Business Week will take place from November 14th to 18th in partnership with the governments of Argentina and Canada, along with a variety of other embassies in Washington, DC. NGLCC will host high-level panel discussions and innovative activities throughout the week, culminating in the 14th annual National Dinner, all with the goal of advancing the conversation of LGBT economic inclusion at an international level. Please stay tuned for more information, and we look forward to seeing many of you in Washington, DC in November.