Employment October 2, 2020
Relish delicious cookies & savories made by people with disabilities at Thank U Foods
Thank U Foods is a venture started by Madurai-based organization Indian Association for the Blind that empowers people with visual impairment. Delicious cookies and savories are made by disabled people and sold. This is one way of making them independent and self-reliant by providing job opportunities.
Cookies, cakes, savories, chocolates or sweets, you name it and Thank U Foods has it! A venture of the Indian Association for the Blind (IAB), all activities at Thank U Foods from scratch are done by people with disabilities. The prime aim behind starting the venture is to empower people with disabilities from all walks of life and to make them independent and self-reliant by providing job opportunities.
IMB, empowering disabled people since 1985
IAB was founded by late SMA Jinnah who was a visually impaired person. He turned blind at the age of thirteen. During those years, there were no education opportunities for visually impaired people. In spite of that, Jinnah completed his studies and was even a gold medalist. He left to the USA to do his post-graduation and decided to settle down there. But his mind was back in India. He knew that there were thousands of visually impaired youngsters who wanted to create a future for themselves, but were denied opportunities. That is what led him to come back to India and start IMB in the year 1985.
Apart from a special school for the visually impaired, there are hostel facilities at the center. They also provide education and job opportunities. Most of them are hired by companies in public and private sectors after rigorous training. Till date, IMB has placed over 3000 people with disabilities into various sectors. All their activities are based from Madurai in Tamil Nadu. Over 30,000 disabled people have benefitted from various ventures of IMB.
Jinnah was also a three time national award winner for his contributions towards the society, especially to empower disabled people.
Various projects hosted by IAB
Team at IAB looked into various job opportunities for people with disabilities. In the early nineties, they made chair canes and postal covers to sustain livelihood. But all that became irrelevant within a few years’ time. People refused to buy postal covers because they were no more in use. They later switched over to tailoring, but that too had to be stopped mid-way.
Abdul Raheem, who is the current Vice-President and son of Jinnah comes from a corporate background. He wanted to create a core profit initiative to create employment to people with all kinds of disabilities, more like creating a social enterprise.
They ran a BPO for over six years employing over 200 disabled people, but had to shut down due to various challenges.
By understanding their strengths, Abdul decided to employ them in different sectors. That is when the idea of creating an own brand arose.
Thank U Foods, a unique venture
“We started making cookies and sold it to a few corporate companies. To start with, it was done at Madurai and then we expanded to Chennai as well. We got some great responses. The cookies are made by disabled people with help of rural womenfolk”, says Abdul. Packaging and sales are also done by the visually impaired.
Soon, they held pop-up stalls at corporate cafeterias and even developed their own mobile app so that visually impaired people can manage activities on their own. All details were made available on the app. “The idea was to help visually impaired do things on their own with help of technology”, says Abdul.
Thank U Foods was started in the year 2018. Today, they have tie-ups with over 500 corporate companies. Their team has expanded from Madurai to Chennai,
Hyderabad, Pune and Bengaluru.
Since an unexpected Covid pandemic, Thank U Foods had to redesign their model. They have moved to online platforms and are doing sales through website and social media. “Many were left jobless. In our new model, products are directly taken to the customer”, says Abdul who has employed 70 percent disabled people and 25 percent rural womenfolk in the venture.
“We are looking into building an international brand that can be managed by disabled people so that there are more employment opportunities”, he says.
For more details, you can contact the team at +91 95970-68805.
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