In honor of Denver’s pride week – and the end of pride month – we are highlighting the Queer Business Alliance. Mobilize CEO Jade Baranski (they/them) started QBA in 2018 to support and amplify the excellent work done by LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs.
The Roots of the Queer Business Alliance
Jade discovered the importance of queer mentorship as a young person. “Business ownership was not in the future for me, ever. I had never seen anybody like me in business, never thought that I would start a business… I didn’t follow a traditional path.”
As a young person looking to find their place, Jade was approached at their restaurant gig by a regular, Tina Reynolds, and was offered a job. “She looked like me… and I was like ‘yes!’. She could have owned a funeral home for all I knew, but I was going to take that job.”
After accepting a position at Reynold’s full-service digital marketing agency, Jade learned the business from all angles. In their 6 year tenureship, they dove deep on the ins and outs of the business, culminating in a position as the Director of Operations. “She literally taught me everything she knew, mostly in the form of daily walks and very real conversations about our successes, where I needed to grow, and her expert opinion of how things should be done, which was priceless.”
After many years of owning their own digital agency and building an informal network of LGBTQIA+ business owners, Jade knew that their community had the opportunity to really collaborate and make a difference for each other.
Listen to the QBA Podcast’s interview with Jade to learn more.
Why does the Queer Business Alliance exist?
Because Queer folks belong in business, yet entrepreneurship is incredibly inaccessible for the community. QBA creates a community of support for Queer business owners and entrepreneurs to strengthen each other, share resources and knowledge, and provide mentorship opportunities. When the LGBTQ+ community has the tools to design their careers, they are able to embrace their identities in both their personal and work life – and ultimately design their lives.
The QBA is a nonprofit alliance of businesses, organizations, and individuals who work together to empower LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs. The organization assists LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs in a number of ways. Its services include providing LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs with educational resources to help them build their businesses; promoting partner organizations on social media; conducting a mentorship program; and in the future providing micro-grants to remove barriers for the Queer community to start and develop their own business entities.
Andy Schumacher , chair of the QBA board of directors, explains the organization’s importance best:
“The Queer Business Alliance believes in a world where there are more LGBTQ+ owned businesses. We believe in mentorship, education, resources, and visibility as key pillars in making this happen. We want Queer folks everywhere to understand the possibilities and potential for their lives, and future generations. I have the privilege of currently serving as the Chairperson of the Board of Directors. I want to build a strong foundation for a sustainable organization that truly changes the world for generations to come. I believe that our work at QBA will reach LGBTQ+ people around the world, and I hope they hear us shouting that they not only deserve to be alive, but they deserve to thrive. They deserve a world designed for them, and we are going to create it.”