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Meet the winner of the 2022 Small Business Big Impact Award – Do Good Donuts


A little girl holds two donuts up to her face like eyes. Text reads First place the small business big impact awards Meridian

The number one thing a donut can do, according to Melanie Côté, the founder of Do Good Donuts, “is make people really, really happy, because people love donuts.” But she also knows that the humble donut can do far more than spread joy. With the right approach, Canada’s favourite snack can change lives. And that’s why she and her team took first place in the 2022 Small Business Big Impact Awards. The victory came with a $25,000 first prize, from the awards sponsor Meridian Credit Union.

In their second year, the Small Business Big Impact Awards celebrate and recognize the positive impact of Ontario’s small businesses on their local communities. Do Good Donuts was one of 1,300 nominees evaluated by an independent selection committee, based on their business model, values, and community support.

Get inspired

Check out the finalists in the 2022 Meridian Credit Union Small Business Big Impact Awards and see how they’re making a difference.


Why donuts?

According to Melanie, donuts are not just delicious. Making fresh donuts requires a complex combination of tasks and techniques which prepare workers to take on a variety of jobs down the road. And that gives Do Good Donuts the perfect opportunity to provide real-world job skills to young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.


Creating donuts and jobs

The idea behind this start-up company is simple. People do real work for real pay at Do Good Donuts, building skills and confidence. “What they learn,” says Melanie, “allows them to make a lateral move into a job at a bigger company, so they aren’t starting from scratch and having to learn everything, all at once.” She calls it moving over instead of moving up.

All of this is happening at a time when approximately 645,000 Canadians with disabilities who are not employed and not in school, have the potential to work and could help fill vacant positions across the country (according to Statistics Canada).

Creating a welcoming and slow-paced environment where workers can take the time they need to build skills that will make them attractive to employers is the key to early success for the Do Good Donuts team.

“A lot of companies want to provide opportunities for adults with disabilities but they aren’t always set up to train people at the right pace,” says Melanie. “We fill the gap between having few skills and being ready to hit the ground running.”


Doing good is good for business

Melanie believes that welcoming employees with developmental and intellectual disabilities into a workspace is not just good for the worker, it’s good for business too. The Government of Canada confirms that organizations with inclusive cultures are:

  • 2x as likely to meet or exceed financial targets.
  • 3x as likely to be high-performing.
  • 6x more likely to be innovative and agile.
  • 8x more likely to achieve better business outcomes.

Melanie also believes that the presence of workers with disabilities has a positive effect on morale and enhances a company’s reputation with customers and in the community. “When you add it up,” she says, “there are more reasons to hire these workers than not to. It’s how you do good and do good business at the same time.”


Big plans for the future

The Do Good Donuts business model is ripe for expansion. Melanie and her team look forward to the day when they open a full-service bakery and expand their menu. By offering more products, the company will be able to hire more employees, and teach a wider range of skills in baking, sandwich making, beverage service, and anything else it takes to turn out fresh batches of job-ready workers.


Melanie’s recipe for creating welcoming and diverse teams

Here are 5 key hiring tips from the Do Good Donuts team for recruiting and interviewing people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

1. Write clear and simple job descriptions

Make the job description authentic, clear, and simple, so that candidates know exactly what skills they will be learning and what to expect every day.

2. Know how to find employees

Get to know the resources in your community and within your network that can help you connect with potential employees. For example, The Ontario Disability Employment Network (ODEN) is a professional network of employment service providers united to increase employment opportunities for people who have a disability. See how ODEN can help your business connect with potential new employees.

3. Provide interview questions in advance

Many people with intellectual and developmental disabilities find it stressful to formulate answers on the spot. Giving them questions ahead of time lets them consider their responses and put their best foot forward in the interview.

4. Invite family members and caregivers into the process

Accepting a job often means a big change in a person’s daily routine. Family members and caregivers can often help the employer and the employee set the right level of expectations.

5. Be on the lookout for opportunities to expand your team

Ask your staff and managers to identify tasks that could be done by a new hire.

If you would like to recruit a member of the work-based training program at Do Good Donuts, reach out and say hello to the team.


Learn more about managing your business

3 low-cost strategies to make your business more sustainable
A diverse workplace is better for people and profit
Why helping your community is good for business

Meridian Credit Union communications are intended for informational purposes only and do not constitute financial advice or an opinion on any issue. We would be pleased to provide additional details or advice about specific situations if desired.

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