Katie and Christopher went to a networking lunch at Panzanzee a few days ago. Panzanzee is a co-working space and incubator specifically for social entrepreneurs. They are working to coalesce the “socent” movement in Chicago, and offer resources and support to this growing segment of startups.

We checked out their cool space at Huron and Orleans and talked with other social entrepreneurs. One woman was working on a cool project to provide jobs for low-income neighborhoods across the globe. The idea is to have a toy workshop that can be run out of a shipping container. Once the “shop” is setup, local workers will have templates to create handmade toys.

Another group, FunderHut, was also there. It was cool to see this team – we heard the speak at Bulit In Chicago a few nights earlier. They are working a community crowdsourcing project. Unlike a platform like Kickstarter that connects funders from all over the world for any type of project, FunderHut brings together local communities that want to bring change and improvements to their areas. On their website now is a project to raise money for a youth opera program in Chicago. There is a also a project to print local limited-edition t-shirts, some of which will be designed by adults with autism.

Amanda Britt, Founder and CEO of Panzanzee, led the discussion. She shared her story of visiting an orphanage in Mexico and how that led her to think about micro-lending and the intersection of social and economic opportunities. She started Panzanzee (check out this link if you are interested in the story that goes along with the name) within the last few years to help social enterprises in Chicago to become stronger and more sustainable.

InfiniTeach so excited to part of the exciting, growing social enterprise movement in Chicago. The passion and dedication of the organizations and people we meet are truly inspiring.

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