In an email interaction with Restaurant India, Alina Alam shares her idea of starting Mitti Cafe.
Started by young and enterprising entrepreneur Alina Alam, Mitti Café has done a phenomenal jon in the last one year since its inception. Started with a motto to provide employment and entrepreneurship opportunities for adults with intellectual an or physical disability, they now have 7 centers across two cities engaging over 40 persons with disability. Here are excerpts from the interview:
Tell us something about Mitti Café. What as the whole idea behind it?
MITTI Cafe, as a part of its livelihood development initiative for the economic independence and dignity of persons with disability, aims at providing employment and entrepreneurship opportunities for adults with intellectual and/or physical disability through the creation of food cafes within institutional spaces. By engaging persons with disability we believe that they would act as agents of change by example and thereby promote a system of self sustenance and wellness through our unique livelihood development initiative.
How are these cafes designed as you are hiring differently-abled staffs?
Mitti offers probably world’s first unique work environment for differently abled adults where individuals with different disabilities (physical and mental) work together. Our team has created robust training modules which will help the leadership to train individuals with or without any disability. Mitti has also hired and equipped a centralized kitchen in Bangalore which can deliver upto 5000 meals per day. Starting with our Bangalore chapter, Mitti is working to create a replicable format for our café’s which can be applied irrespective of cuisine being served, size of the café or the place it is located at. The process is continuously improving and as we grow, detailed operational specifics are being added.
What were the challenges faced?
Mitti opened its first café by clearing a deserted shed, borrowing a third hand fridge and second hand mixer grinder. With time, we have overcome financial, operational and all kinds of day to day challenges. We have seen a rapid growth in terms of size, revenue and produce.
How is this creating an impact on the society and the community?
In the last nine months, we have 5 cafes including one in ANZ Bank at Manyata Tech Park and one at Eco-world. We have been able to employ 45+ adults with disability. Our achievements can be ascertained by the faith our customers have in our quality and cause and moreover on how life changing it has been for some of our employees in whom we have not just observed positive psychological changes but also significant physiological improvements.
How are you engaging with these communities? What is the hiring process?
Through MITTI café’s collective model our beneficiary organizations, along with the spirited involvement of their employees have helped us to create livelihood and entrepreneurship opportunities for deserving and motivated candidates who are specially able, who otherwise struggle for work opportunities or are underutilized.Through our partner NGO’s and social programs, Mitti is associated with most NGO’s working for differently abled including Enable India, Samarthanam, APD, Cheshire Homes to hire them.
How many staffs do you have currently? What is the plan hiring more?
While our current strength is 41 persons, 45 adults with disabilities have been part of the program as of today. Most individuals come with minimal formal education and below the poverty line. They have worked on their interpersonal and service skills and have been trained on day to day activities in hospitality business. Some candidates have been promoted within the organization and some have been able to secure better careers elsewhere. With our upcoming centers at Iqvia, Wipro & Mindtree we plan to continuously hire more candidates.
How about expanding the restaurant?
Mitti aims to open 20 café’s by early 2020 and grow to 100 self sustainable café’s in next five years spread across the nation to employ maximum number of differently abled adults. Our immediately upcoming centers in Bangalore are at Iqvia, Wipro, IIMB & Mindtree.