Halifax bakery on a social mission wins business awards

Stone Hearth Bakery took home gold in the small business of the year category and silver in the innovative business of the year category at the 2017 Halifax Business Awards, hosted by the Halifax Chamber of Commerce.

'It gives you a sense of worth in holding a job and doing it well'

Stone Hearth Bakery has operated since 1982 and is located in the Bayers Road Centre. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

A Halifax bakery aimed at helping people who live with mental illness and experience barriers to employment has won two business awards.

Stone Hearth Bakery took home gold in the small business of the year category and silver in the innovative business of the year category at the 2017 Halifax Business Awards, hosted by the Halifax Chamber of Commerce.

"From a social perspective we do good work and we are well-known in the social community," said Dave Rideout, CEO of MetroWorks Employment Association, the company that operates the bakery.

"But winning the business award actually validates our business model that we are actually running a good business here."

The bakery has won two awards in the 2017 Halifax Business Awards. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

Established in 1982, Stone Hearth Bakery is located in the bowels of the Bayers Road Centre. The company takes all proceeds from the sale of bakery products and reinvests them into training and employment opportunities for people struggling to find work.

"Back in the 1980s, when the organization was relatively young, we were a world innovator in this blend of social enterprise and using these business models to help employ these disadvantaged people in our communities," said Rideout.

"People from all over the world came to Halifax and I think through the years we've been able to continue on that model."

'Lot of courage and inspiration'

Stone Hearth Bakery supplies European style bakery products to major grocery stores as well as restaurants.

Each year approximately 65 people go through the bakery training program.

"You have to have a lot of courage and inspiration, not only from yourself, but others who help you through the program," said Leah MacDonald, who went through the training program and sells bread at a Stone Hearth Bakery kiosk in Halifax.

"It gives you a sense of worth in holding a job and doing it well."