TEF’s Employment Social Enterprise Idea Accelerator, in Toronto

TEF’s Employment Social Enterprise Idea Accelerator, in Toronto


[swoosh] ANNOUNCER: Here is an
AMI This Week Shortcut with Alex Smyth. [music playing] WOMAN: Folks are
pitching for catalyzing grants of between $5,000
to $10,000 tonight. There is serious
coin on the line. MELANIE COTE: It
feels like this might be the first step of
something extraordinary, and I can’t wait to share
this idea with everyone and to feel like it can
actually come to fruition. ALEX SMYTH: It’s pitch night at
the YWCA in downtown Toronto. Organized by the United Way’s
Toronto Enterprise Fund, five lucky participants
have the opportunity to win up to $10,000 to help
fund their businesses that support the
disability community. I caught up with Ann Jamieson,
event organizer, to learn more. ANNE JAMIESON: TEF is a
program of United Way, and we fund employment
social enterprises. ALEX SMYTH: What is an
employment social enterprise? ANNE JAMIESON: It’s a business
that’s purpose-built to create employment for people who face
multiple barriers to getting into the labour market, and they
will purposely hire people who don’t necessarily have
experience or any kind of training in that business. And the other important
thing that employment social enterprises do is
provide wrap around support. So they might have counselling. If they’re having
housing problems, they will help with
the housing problems. If they’re having
health problems, then they’ll help with that. ALEX SMYTH: Competitors
pitch their business ideas to a panel of four
judges, including Anne, others from the
business community, and Melissa MacIntosh. She is
a dispatcher for Good Foot Delivery, a courier
business that employs people with developmental and
intellectual disabilities. And she has faced employment
barriers firsthand. MELISSA MACINTOSH: I think it’s
really stressful for a person to go into the workforce
because what you’re doing is you’re setting
their routine and that can be so difficult for
a person with challenges. ALEX SMYTH: As a
judge, what are you looking for from the businesses
that are pitching here tonight? MELISSA MACINTOSH: I am looking
for their ideas to make sense and for them to look at
the people first rather than the business. Because that’s the
most important thing. ALEX SMYTH: People are central
to this idea for a bakery and cafe called Do
Good Doughnuts that will employ youth with
intellectual disabilities. It’s something that
hits close to home for entrepreneur Melanie Cote. MELANIE COTE: So this is my
dream of Do Good Doughnuts, but nobody dreams
alone so I’m here today to ask for your support
in making this dream a reality. Well, my daughter
Alma is six and she was born with an
intellectual disability called Williams Syndrome. And since the day I learned
about her disability at six months old I’ve
been out in the community trying to find other young
people who are working, who are thriving, who
are living independently. And it’s been six years
and I have found one. And I really feel like there’s
a gap that needs to be filled, and it’s about 12 years
till my daughter’s 18, and I’m really hoping
to make something that can help a lot of
kids between then and now. BHARATHY VIVEKANANTHAM: My
name is Bharathy Vivekanantham, and I’m here today to
pitch The Goodness Kit. The Goodness Kit is essentially
a gift basket company based in Canada
serving to support employment opportunities for
adults on the autism spectrum. I’ve seen firsthand the passion
that each individual has. They have been seeking
opportunities for so long and are often short
handed, and so being able to help
them will definitely make myself feel better
and definitely change the lives of
individuals with autism. ANNE JAMIESON: My hope is that
the work that we’re doing will have over time a
fundamental impact on the way business hires people. That we can prove that you
can run a successful business and still create
employment for people who may not fit with
your perfect candidate, but can do a good job. ALEX SMYTH: And the winners
are Paws for Compassion, a dog walking business
that will employ people with developmental disabilities;
Melanie’s Do Good Doughnuts; and Bharathy’s The Goodness Kit. Congratulations. How are you feeling? BHARATHY VIVEKANANTHAM:
Extremely excited, and hopefully it changes lives
for individuals that we help. MELANIE COTE: I
would like to say to the other unlikely
entrepreneurs out there who just really want
to see change in the world and really want to
make it happen that with the right support
and a really good idea that you can do it. You can change the world. Smile! One, two, three. ALEX SMYTH: To find out how
to develop your own ideas, check out
torontoenterprisefund.ca and make your dreams come true.

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