Bangalore-based Mitti Café chain run by the specially abled people having 23 café’s in various parts of the country will be opening its first café in Hansraj College in Delhi University in December this year. It will also be first in Delhi NCR. This was stated by Alina Alam, Founder and CEO, Mitti Café while speaking at an Interactive session ‘Path to purpose how business can be more inclusive’ organised by FICCI Ladies Organisation (FLO) , the women business wing of trade body FICCI in New Delhi.
The Mitti Café chain started by Alina Alam, then a 28-year-old woman in Hubli and Bangalore in the year 2017, is a chain of cafes that is entirely managed by specially-abled people who originate from low-income households and struggle with physical, intellectual, and psychological problems. Since then, Mitti Cafe’s roots have extended far and wide across numerous regions of the country. People managing the Cafe’s day-to-day operations have various disabilities, ranging from visual and hearing impaired to Asperger’s and Down’s syndrome. The cafe’s outreach programs strive to raise awareness regarding disability rights and inclusion.
“Through the medium of food, I wanted to do two things: One is generating livelihood for people with disabilities because all our cafes are run by people with physical, intellectual and psychiatric disabilities. More importantly, I felt they are a cohort with very high potential and a lot was needed to be done in this aspect. I have had relatives and friends with this. And all that I could see in them were abilities whether they run a wheelchair, or were on crutches, whether they have some intellectual or psychiatric disabilities, but there was so much more to them as a person in terms of their talents in terms of their personal relationships. In terms of the way I looked at the world and the way the world views disabilities was a big disconnect that I wanted to personally really, contribute to change,” Alina said on this occasion.
“The Mitti Cafe Team has served over 8 million meals and beverages till now. Alina said that through this they have been “able to really help”, and “create awareness about disability inclusion. In addition to providing meals at their cafés, these extraordinary individuals have also donated food to orphanages, senior citizens’ homes, and struggling towns. Compassion meals or Karuna meals where apart from the food that’s served at these cafes to people who cannot afford it buy it. With healthy vegetarian food from across the world and mom’s magic recipes, dining at Mitti Cafe is a unique experience. The cafe’s warmly lit ambience and the staff greeting with cheerful smiles will instantly put you at ease.”
Jyanati Dalmia, President, FICCI Ladies Organisation (FLO) while appreciating Mitti’s work pointed out that though there has been shift in inclusivity, awareness and change in the last few decades, society is still the biggest barrier for people with disabilities. Stereotyping, stigma, and discrimination – these are all enduring challenges that have resulted in underemployment, inadequate job quality and marginalization. “With an objective to facilitate their inclusion in Aatmanirbhar Bharat’s growth story and to remove barriers to inclusion and address key challenges FLO has launched an exclusive National Initiative this year- the FLO Differently Abled Cell to work collectively to encourage the especially abled into the economic ecosystem,” she added.