NGLCC Global in Peru
| By Michael Castellano
NGLCC Global was on the road last week! Our team was conducting an internal evaluation in Peru as part of the strategic, public-private partnership with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The goal of this partnership is to encourage and support gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender business owners and entrepreneurs in developing countries. Peru represents NGLCC Global’s third focus country, following initiatives in Colombia and Mexico, which actually will officially launch in Mexico City October 23-24.
Although projects in Peru are set to begin in 2015, the team conducted research that supports an initiative that would build a formalized network of business organizations representing LGBT entrepreneurs in the country.
Peru is an ideal next stop for NGLCC Global for a number of reasons. Home to Machu Picchu—one of the seven wonders of the new world—and the focal point of the largest empire in pre-Columbian America, Peru is a major tourist destination for U.S. travelers. In fact, Peru is the fourth most popular country to visit in South America, having received some 3.2 million visitors in 2013.
Considering that Community Marketing Inc. (CMI) estimates the overall annual impact of U.S. LGBT travelers at $100 billion, Peru understands the economic impact of LGBT tourism. During the NGLCC’s meeting with PromPeru, Peru’s ministry of external commerce and tourism, officials expressed a strong interest in continuing to market Peru as a destination for LGBT travelers.
More than tourism, however, the time is ripe for a business organization and entrepreneurship programming in Peru. During our first day of meetings in Lima, the team met with Carlos Bruce, the 57-year old member of congress, economist, and former president of the Peruvian Exporters' association ADEX.
Congressman Bruce also happens to be openly gay. He is undoubtedly the engine behind Peru’s debate on civil unions for same-sex couples. Bruce came out to the press earlier this year stating, "Yes, I am gay and proud to belong to a group of people who are so valuable to Peru." In his conversation with the NGLCC, Congressman Bruce said that his fight has not been easy and that some 60% of the population still opposes the bill. Fortunately, the climate is beginning to change now that he has started the conversation. Support for the bill increases by 20% for Peruvians under the age of 30, and Congressman Bruce even hinted that there were a handful of other LGBT individuals running for office in the October 5 election.
This powerful enthusiasm and desire for greater LGBT inclusion was apparent in every conversation NGLCC conducted, whether with corporations, activists, or LGBT entrepreneurs. In addition to Congressman Bruce, team NGLCC Global met with Anabelle Cordero, head of Human Relations at IBM — NGLCC’s first founding partner — and an out lesbian. Ms. Cordero spoke with the team about IBM’s longstanding inclusion and support for the LGBT community.
NGLCC Global also met with USAID counterparts, embassy officials, civil society organizations and human rights activists, as well as local LGBT business owners. We are already receiving registration requests for new international suppliers in Peru. One business owner, Karenina Alvarez Johnson, owner of Gay Store Peru, and a newly registered international supplier, said, “We are very thankful for our last meeting with you. It was a positive and hopeful day that will encourage us to keep on going with our dream.”
The time is right for LGBT business inclusion in Peru, and NGLCC Global is excited to begin working with the community.
For more information about NGLCC Global, please visit http://www.nglcc.org/global