Nominate a business for the Meridian Small Business Big Impact Awards
The Meridian Small Business Big Impact Awards feature $300,000 in total prize money
A huge congratulations goes out to the winners of this year’s Small Business Big Impact Awards! We received over 4,000 nominations for businesses making a positive impact on their communities. Luckily, we were prepared to give out more prizes than ever before. We’re awarding a total of $300,000, including $50,000 for the winning business in each of our contest categories: community, environment, and innovation.
Thank you so much to everyone who nominated a business! After careful consideration, our panel of business experts chose 10 impressive finalists in each category and our judging panel reviewed additional materials and details to choose the winners.
First place: Community Builders
Community Builders in a leading not-for-profit construction company serving Simcoe County and Greater Sudbury. In addition to building a variety of residential housing projects, including modular housing, social impact projects, and renovations, they offer people facing barriers to employment paid, hands-on learning opportunities in construction. Their training program gives community members foundational knowledge that will support them as they start a meaningful career in the trades.
Second place: Liberty for Youth
Liberty For Youth is a not-for-profit organization that provides an innovative mentoring program for youth living in the Hamilton and surrounding areas who are involved in, or at-risk of, criminal behaviour. They aim to be a leader in transforming the lives of at-risk youth by helping them navigate any number of challenges. These challenges may include living in poverty, breaking free of substance abuse, surviving in an unsafe home environment, escaping gang involvement or influence, or functioning while on probation. Liberty For Youth offers a variety of programs and scholarships to give young people tools and support to walk the pathway of personal success.
Third place: LES Studios
LES is one of very few Inclusive Gender Neutral Hair Studios in Toronto. A queer, women & immigrant-owned hair studio, the hair artists at LES range in specialties from barbering, hairstyling to colouring. Determined to provide a superb all-round experience, they do all types of hair, length, and texture, including eyebrow services and any facial hair needs. At LES, they believe hair has no gender, only personality, so they price services based on length, not gender. They also provide pay-what-you-can haircuts on a monthly basis for those who can’t afford a regular salon experience, and donate the funds directly to any 2SLGBTQIA+ charities.
First place: GoodLot Farmstead Brewing Co.
GoodLot Farm and Farmstead Brewing company is an organic hop farm and solar-powered brewery in the Ontario Greenbelt. They are organic, regenerative carbon farmers, working to sequester more CO2 into their soil than they emit. They also brew in an eco-renovated converted barn, powered by solar energy. Eventually, they plan to be “carbon-negative” (creating more clean energy than they consume annually, ensuring zero negative impact on the climate). Their environmental leadership has made them a key community gathering hub, hosting a steady stream of fundraising events for numerous local environmental and social issues.
Second place: Links for Greener Learning
Links for Greener Learning (LGL) is a non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness of crucial social and environmental issues while actively promoting sustainable practices in communities. They foster a deep appreciation for the natural environment through educational programs for students, newcomers, and community members. In addition to programs like summer camps and student workshops, LGL provides over 45 community garden beds across the Niagara Region and runs the Eco-Chic Boutique program, which has prevented more than 3000 clothing and accessory items from ending up in landfills per year.
Third place: Beaver Rock Roastery
Beaver Rock is a craft roaster guided by 4 key tenets: Quality, Human Health, the Environment, and our Community. In addition to roasting excellent coffee, they were the first to introduce a 100% recyclable single-serve cup. Plus, they use the world's most environmental-friendly coffee roaster, and recyclable and compostable materials for their coffee bags. Beaver Rock was also instrumental in establishing an “Indigenous to Indigenous” coffee program for the Inuit Kitikmeot Heritage Society, which provides economic returns for the Inuit community.
First place: Aaniin Retail
Aaniin retail inc. is an innovative platform and brick-and-mortar storefront for dozens of Indigenous owned businesses, designers, and artisans. It is Canada’s first department store that is 100% Indigenous-owned, and between the storefront and online platform, includes some of Canada’s most recognized Indigenous brands, plus many up-and-comers. Items come with a QR code on the tag, which leads to a web page that explains the meaning and translation of the design. This helps promote education and creates meaningful conversations about language revitalization and cultural survival.
Second place: Lucky Iron Life
Lucky Iron Life is a for-profit, social enterprise that wants to reduce the burden of iron deficiency and anemia – the most serious nutrient deficiency affecting the health and livelihoods of two billion people worldwide. Women and children are particularly at risk, but the condition can affect anyone, at any stage of life. The Lucky Iron Fish is a simple solution. Made of electrolytic, elemental iron, this small fish can fortify a meal with just the right amount of iron to boost iron in the body and alleviate anemia after 10 minutes cooking in your pot. It’s now sold in over 66 countries and has improved the health of more than 1.25 million people.
Third place: Awarewear
AwareWear is at the forefront of innovating athlete safety through advanced thinking and microtechnology. They are developing a groundbreaking device called the "intelibeam," designed to monitor athletes' head movements and head impacts in real-time, a concern often overlooked in sports. Head impacts can have far-reaching, invisible consequences such as mood alterations, cognitive impairments, and in severe cases, long-term life-altering conditions. Research shows that a head impact occurs every 13 seconds in sport and over 50% are unnoticed and untreated. AwareWear intends to use wearable tech to detect issues in real-time, protecting the health of 391 million registered athletes worldwide.
The Raw Carrot, in Paris ON, received more nominations than any other business, in any category! The Raw Carrot cooks and packages small batch, artisan products (like food items and gift boxes), while providing work opportunities to people who face barriers to employment. They currently have four locations, and plan to open a fifth in 2024.
Out of all the start-up business nominated, our judges were most impressed by Mon Petit Chou. Located in Etobicoke, Mon Petit Chou specializes in crafting nutritious salad bouquets that combine health and beauty. Orders include reusable planters and in-house dressings using fresh in-house and local ingredients only. They’re committed to sustainability at every step of the process - we look forward to watching them grow!
What a past winner is up to
Northern Village, our inaugural Small Business Big Impact Award winner, has used their winnings to finish Access2ID – a fantastic piece of software that allows agencies working with homeless people to help them recover their ID. Watch this video to hear more about the Northern Village story.