Sweet success for social enterprise

Published by MAXSolutions on March 20, 2021
Krofne donuts Canberra

22 March 2021 marks World Down Syndrome Day and we’re delighted to introduce one of our employer partners – Krofne.

Krofne, meaning ‘donut’ in Croatian, is a social enterprise focused on providing meaningful employment opportunities to people with disability, including those with Down Syndrome.

Founder Danijela Vrkic is mum to Anthony, one of more than 13,000 Australians living with Down Syndrome. 


In 2016 as Anthony neared the end of high school, she became increasingly concerned about his employment prospects.

“People with disability can find it very difficult to find meaningful work,” says Danijela.
“Everyone has the right to go to work every day, to be able to go out and buy a pair of jeans. Things that people take for granted are not necessarily opportunities given to people with disability,” she says.

Danijela and her husband John built their donut business Krofne from scratch in 2016 to ensure Anthony would have the opportunity to be involved in the production and sale of the sweet treat. 


Krofne’s success is underpinned by a unique family recipe that has been handed down through four generations. 

However, it’s Danijela’s continuing commitment to providing opportunities for people living with disability that makes the business’s success all the sweeter. 

MAX customer Andrew Ashman is one of the social enterprise’s newest recruits. 

Like Anthony, Andrew lives with Down Syndrome and our team in Canberra are delighted to have worked alongside Danijela to give Andrew a fantastic work opportunity in the truly inclusive social enterprise.

Andrew has limited verbal communication skills and the role has helped him gain valuable experience. His communication skills are improving as he uses increasingly more words to engage with customers as he takes orders and payments. 

The young man joins 16 other team members with disability. Each works alongside a support worker who will assist and guide when needed.


A very popular addition to local markets and appearing around Canberra in pop-up kiosks at shopping centres, the Croatian donuts and the smiling staff behind them have become something of an institution in Canberra.

Andrew’s dad Bruce is proud that his son is now part of the Krofne business.

“Our aim was always to get Andrew into some kind of supported employment, but we didn’t think it would happen as quickly as it did,” says Bruce.
“Andrew is really enjoying it. He moves around to the different pop-ups and works around 10-12 hours a week.
“Danijela is fantastic and the whole Krofne model is very empowering for the individual,” he says.

Danijela is now expanding Krofne’s reach after receiving a $200,000 grant from the federal government. 


Using Krofne as a real-life example of success, Danijela has developed and is currently rolling out a training program called KINECT with an initial focus to advance opportunities for adults living with autism to enter employment. 

Currently Kinect is working on extending the project to a broader client base of people living with different disabilities. 

The Kinect program consists of two complementary course intake streams, focusing on:

  • training employers and their staff in the opportunities and adaptations required when employing people on the autism spectrum
  • potential employees living with autism, seeking opportunities to work, guided by their skills and interests

“After the training I’m so confident employers will have their perceptions challenged and their opinions changed that they will be open to employing someone with disability,” says Danijela. 


Congratulations to Danijela and Andrew. What a delight to give our customers the opportunity to work alongside such a powerhouse for inclusivity.

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