In October, when Sulagna Mazumdar, Arush Mondal and Siddhartha Pal launched High on Tea to sell organic and chemical-free tea, spices, seeds and other consumables from Sikkim, they prepared for challenges. As beginning entrepreneurs, not only should they learn to navigate the crowded online space that most businesses have pivoted to since the pandemic, but as people who identify as members of the LGBTQ + community, three co-founders were also worried about the challenges they might face along the way. A few months ago, however, High on Tea found a unique niche specifically aimed at stimulating the dreams of “queer entrepreneurs”.
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Rainbow Bazaar, India’s premier online marketplace for LGBTQ +-owned micro and small businesses, is incubated by Pride Circle, a Bengaluru-based organization that works to include LGBTQ + employees in Indian workplaces. Two years ago, when Pride Circle hosted a community career fair in Bangalore, there was a dedicated marketplace for LGBTQ + companies to display their products.
“As the pandemic has forced many small businesses to abandon their physical stores, we felt it was time for a digital transformation,” said Srini Ramaswamy, one of the founders of Pride Circle with Ramkrishna Sinha.
The idea behind Rainbow Bazaar is simple: to create an online platform for LGBTQ + entrepreneurs to showcase and sell their products at prices that suit them. Unlike the global behemoths that already follow this model, Pride Circle does not seek to control the sales process, reduce sales, or generate income. “Our only criteria is that the business must be owned by an LGBTQ + person or have at least one stakeholder in the community,” Ramaswamy said. Since its soft launch in June, Rainbow Bazaar has 30 companies with 450 products on offer right now. The plan, Ramaswamy adds, is to expand it to include 500 brands over the next two years and gain buy-in from vendors in Tier 2 and 3 cities.
An LGBTQ + market product set up by Pride Circle at the Bangalore Career Fair in 2019.
(Circle of pride)
As Pride Circle consults with companies on diversity and inclusion policies, there is a pool of customers ready to tap. “Some of the companies we work with are happy to buy vouchers from us to give their employees incentives,” Ramaswamy adds. “It’s a way to encourage more people to buy from the businesses featured on Rainbow Bazaar. “
Pride Circle is happy to provide logistical support to newbie queerpreneurs – helping them understand PAN maps, training them to photograph their products, list their businesses on the platform, decide on the right prices, and maintain an inventory. There are already a variety of merchandise to choose from among 20 different categories, be it cosmetics, handbags, consumer goods, clothing, artwork, collectibles. and even furniture, all at prices as low as ₹100 to ₹1 lakh.
Visit https://shop.thepridecircle.com/ to learn more
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