On October 25, Montreal’s Zera Café was awarded the inaugural INfinity Prize – a competitive prize recognizing a social enterprise demonstrating excellence in neurodivergent hiring.
Established by the Azrieli Foundation in 2023, the prize aims to create employment equity, boost awareness and help us take a big step toward creating a more diverse and inclusive society.
In just three-and-a-half years, the Zera Café has grown from employing four to 15 neurodivergent team members. And, with the prize money and coaching, plans to open Zera Café in the Park – which will create 10 additional opportunities for neurodivergent employees.
At the pitch-style INfinity Prize event, Zera Café’s founder, Eve Rochman, shared this business idea with the panel of expert judges, consisting of Jim Treliving, Varun Chandak, Wanda Deschamps, Caroline von Hirschberg, Garth Johnson and Erica Barbosa Vargas, and an eager audience, both on-site and online.
“We applaud the efforts of Zera Café and others who are pioneering innovative and actionable pathways to truly inclusive hiring practices,” says Naomi Azrieli, Chair and CEO of the Azrieli Foundation. “Zera Café is a great example of an initiative that creates equitable employment prospects for neurodivergent talent in Canada.”
All three finalists – Cuisine Collective Hochelaga Maisonneuve Inc. (CCHM), Goodness Gift and Zera Café – impressed the judges and audience with their thoughtfully crafted pitches and leading neurodiversity efforts. Still, it was Zera Café that came out on top.
“The team and I couldn’t be more excited to be the first-ever recipients of the INfinity Prize,” says Rochman. “Now we’re ready to scale up and grow bigger and better.”
We look forward to following along as Zera Café expands and creates more opportunities for neurodivergent employees.