“The role that social entrepreneurs play is we get to help reimagine what our life and what our world can look like for so many in our communities,” said Winnie Karanja, founder of Maydm, a Dane County-based nonprofit that engages women and people of color to pursue careers in technology.

Karanja was a panelist in this week’s Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation’s webinar series, “Entrepreneurons.”

Karanja said she’s hoping to see more creative solutions from social entrepreneurs for ideas and solutions to be funded for inequalities in communities, the country and the world.

“This is the time where folks who have been thinking about something can really start to put pen to paper, and start brainstorming, asking questions, talking to folks and really starting to say, ‘what role can they play’ in building companies that are going to be socially minded,” she said.

UW-Madison Discovery to Product mentorCecily Brose agrees entrepreneurs should use this time period to their advantage.

“It’s unveiling new creative business models which I feel is very inspiring,” she said. “I think that was happening before COVID, but this is just hopefully, just helping to accelerate the movement.”

She added that dreams of a social enterprise can be filled, make money and do good.

“We’re moving into a world where people aren’t put into these boxes — you’re for profit, you’re nonprofit — the lines of entrepreneurship really are being blurred, and I think that it’s allowing you to be creative.”

John McIntyre, a social enterprise investor with American Family Insurance Institute for Corporate and Social Impact, said there is a “movement gaining momentum” about how to better support social enterprises.

“There are such glaring gaps in our society. When we hit crises like this, and economic downturns, it becomes even more apparent that where we have such huge gaps in equity in America,” he said. “I think this generation of entrepreneurs that are coming along, see that and understand that, and want to do something about it, and hopefully we’re getting more tools and more approaches to work on that.”

“It is my big hope that as we continue to work towards days and months that are back to ‘regular’ that we won’t step back into normal, because normal was not great for everybody, and normal isn’t what is sustainable and quality of life and thriving,” said Karanja.

Watch WARF’s webinar series: http://www.warf.org/through-programs-and-events/for-inventors-entrepreneurs-and-researchers/entrepreneurons/entrepreneurons.cmsx