This IAS officer set up cafe run by disabled persons
Over 2.21% (2.68cr people) of the Indian population is disabled, as per the 2011 Census (2016 updated). Among those disabled persons, only one-third have jobs, and out of those, one-third are agricultural laborers. Basically, they're either unemployed or working unprofitable jobs. In a bid to make a small change to that unfortunate statistic, Thoothukudi District Collector (DC), Sandeep Nanduri, helped set up Cafe Able.
Cafe Able is located inside Thoothukudi District Collectorate
Located on the premises of Thoothukudi District Collectorate, Cafe Able is run by 12 disabled persons, or as they like to call themselves, 'Dream Kitchen'. Cafe Able, that seats 25, is operational every day from Monday to Saturday, between 6 am to 8 pm. The cafe's manager, K Kannan, who has polio, said the cafe not only empowers them, but also inspires others.
Cafe offers South Indian breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and dessert
Notably, the cafe boasts a cheap, yet delectable menu that offers South Indian vegetarian and non-vegetarian items, ranging from breakfast, lunch and dinner, snacks and dessert, fresh juices and hot beverages. T Gunasekaran, a cafe regular, said, "For less than Rs. 15, I get some great idlis and vadai." Reportedly, all items on the menu are priced between Rs. 6-70.
Cafe Able was inaugurated on July 8 this year
The cafe was opened on July 8 this year after Thoothukudi DC received several petitions from disabled persons about jobs. Since it wasn't possible to offer government jobs to everyone, the district administration raised Rs. 30L for the cafe with the help of CSR funds from private companies. Thereafter, a local NGO trained 15 disabled persons for the job under a 45-day-long training program.
Among the 12 employees, nine have locomotor disabilities
Eventually, 12 remained to work as the head chef, juice master, billing clerk, etc. Out of them, nine have locomotor disabilities, two were accident victims and one has hearing-impairment. M Vanaja (40), who's afflicted with polio, cooks for the cafe, through which she supports her son's education. P Jesuraja, who washes and cuts vegetables, lost his right-leg in a freak accident 12 years ago.
Their fears have been replaced by conviction to succeed: Nanduri
Speaking to The Better India, DC Nanduri, said, "There was some initial hand-holding required, but soon, the employees were able to manage and run the cafe on their own." Nanduri recalled how the team was low on confidence when their training commenced, but their behavior changed drastically. He highlighted, "Their fears have been replaced by a sense of conviction to succeed in the venture."
Rs. 10,000 daily earning gets split between cafe-marketing, team
To boost sales, Nanduri uses the cafe as a spot for meetings and events of the Collectorate. "We also order food items for staff meetings from there, and encourage district officials to dine there," Nanduri told TBI. The cafe now earns around Rs. 10,000/day. Kannan told The Hindu that half of that is utilized in purchasing ingredients and the rest is shared among them.
The more we earn, the more we take home: Cashier
Further, the cashier, Satheesh, told The Hindu, "Managed by us independently, the cafe is self-sustaining. The more we earn, the more we can take home." He added, "Since the response exceeded our expectations, we are confident that we will be able to scale up fast."