Pandemic prompts birth of non-profit

October 2020
Abigail Cukier

Entrepreneurial ingenuity is the ability to create innovative ventures and value within structural and resource constraints using imaginative problem solving.

This is how Benson Honig and Ana Cristina Siqueira defined the term in their 2019 study in the Journal of Knowledge Management. Honig, the Teresa Cascioli Chair in Entrepreneurial Leadership at the DeGroote School of Business at McMaster University, and Siqueira, an assistant professor of management at Cotsakos College of Business, William Paterson University, have worked together on studies involving entrepreneurship and ingenuity for almost a decade. After the COVID-19 pandemic hit, they decided to turn that research into action.

Within weeks, they created Reframery, which empowers diverse individuals to develop their creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship skills. The non-profit organization supports individuals who face socio-economic constraints by providing entrepreneurship consulting, coaching services and online training with the purpose of improving equal opportunity, social responsibility, environmental sustainability and inclusion.

“When COVID-19 happened, we got this idea to leverage our academic research into real-world applications,” said Honig. “The pandemic is differentially affecting women and minorities and we thought this could be an opportunity to provide support.”

Honig describes Reframery as an online version of a business incubator. Such programs, including give early stage companies access to support, including mentorship, investors and office space to help them get established.

“Building an incubator can be very expensive and a lot of the money is invested in the building and management,” says Honig. “We created a virtual incubator.”

All of Reframery’s programs are completely free of charge. The organization received a $100,000 investment from McMaster University and is applying for grants for further funding. Reframery is already working with a group of Brazilian immigrants in New York City and will soon be working with local aspiring or struggling entrepreneurs through YWCA Hamilton. Future projects include groups in Brazil and Kenya.

 “It is a completely different model. You can really have it anywhere and we want to take it around the world,” said Benson. “We feel it is important to take what we do as academics and bring it into the real world to provide this support.”