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Entrepreneur Priyank Patel Empowering Marginalized Communities Through Diverse And Inclusive Hiring

For the last seven years, Nukkad Tea Cafe has been engaging, employing, and empowering members from deaf, dwarf, transgender, and learning disabled community members

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Ishita Chakraborty
Ishita Chakraborty
A computer engineer who has a passion for writing, a hodophile, social activist, youth activist for PETA India, and a linguaphile. A journalist covering Social issues & United Nations initiatives for transcontinental times.

INDIA: Entrepreneur Priyank Patel founded the Nukkad tea cafe in Pune with the sole motive of providing an undiscriminating employment opportunity to the most vulnerable marginalized community members of society.

For the last seven years, Nukkad Tea Cafe has been engaging, employing, and empowering members from deaf, dwarf, transgender, and learning disabled community members. The social disparities and unawareness about communities was an inspiration for Priyank to bring up a sustainable social solution that will create informed awareness and inspiration for the society.

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“Realizing that the numbers of people with disability and ratio of employable opportunities for them is very poor, we decided to bring up one solution that not only offer equal job opportunities for everyone but also sensitize the society about the people with disabilities their challenges and their right,” Priyank told Transcontinental Times.

Early life and achievements

In 2007, Priyank completed his graduation in Electronics and Telecommunication engineering from Shankracharya College of Engineering. After getting placed in Tech Mahindra, he worked with various other firms in the IT sector for 4 years.

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Priyank was chosen for the prestigious Young India Fellowship by ICICI Foundation. Under this initiative, he extensively worked with various organizations in Gujarat, Odisha, and Maharashtra for two years. Through his experiences, he realized that society needed interactive community space.

Talking about this, he said, “I have worked on rural livelihood, stayed within the community, experienced the village-based economy, social structure of Indian villages and the gap in our system. Soon, I realized an immediate need for an interactive community space that works as an inspiration, hence, came with the idea of a Chai cafe that will employ and empower the marginalized segment of the society.”

Nukkad Tea cafe

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Nukkad Tea cafe was started in 2013 to employ the marginalized communities. Currently, Nukkad Tea cafe has four outlets in two cities and has so far employed & empowered 30+ hearing impaired, dwarf, and down syndrome community members. The cafe is also India’s very first cafe that has employed 20 Transgender community members.

“We are known for our cozy and aesthetic ambiance, flavourful delicacies, and social experiments like Tea&Tones (open mic platform) where guests can share their writings or can interact with socially influential personalities,” said Priyank.

Along with this, the cafe has a ‘Digital detox’ initiative whereby submitting their cell phones while chilling at Nukkad, a person can avail a discount.

Gyaan Daan is a Book exchange initiative and Bol do is an anti-depression movement offering peer support. In Nukkad Tea cafe people can also engage in sessions related to social taboos. Break The taboo initiative allows people to discuss socially taboo subjects like death, menstruation, sexual rights, and more.

Nukkad Tea Cafe. Photo Credit: Priyank Patel

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Importance of diversity and inclusion

Talking about diversity and inclusion, Priyank said, “When we talk about diversity and inclusion we must understand that there is a very clear difference in the two terms and Nukkad supports diversity and inclusion together. Diversity is about having varieties and non-judged and unbiased employable opportunities in your team, whereas inclusion is about giving everyone an equal chance. Nukkad is strongly practicing and promoting inclusion in the workspace. We don’t just give employment but also give the team their voice and hear about their voices in decision making. This brings the sense of ownership and team spirit.”

Nukkad has a soul that is different from any other food chain. It is not just a business, it’s an extended home where people from all communities are welcome to work and grow together. Their initiatives, personalized ambiance, and experience are what make Nukkad so special.

Since 2013, Nukkad Tea Cafe has been empowering marginalized communities through diverse and inclusive hiring. Photo Credit: Priyank Patel

Lending a helping hand during the COVID-19 crisis

Needless to state, COVID-19 has created a great impact on small businesses across India.

Amid the chaos and pandemic of COVID-19, Nukkad is also severely affected. However, instead of sulking about the problem, Priyank and his entire team decided to overcome the problem and offer help to the needy. 

“With the support of our team and volunteers. We started Project Rahat for which we collected Rs 3.80 lakh and could prepare and distribute Food packets to almost 29,000 migrating and lockdown affected people. Our team of super staff who have turned their weakness into their strength and shown exemplary grit and commitment to evolve as a team and show what has never been imagined before,” Priyank said.

Future plans

To engage more diverse communities, Nukkad Tea Cafe is in the process of a multi-city expansion. 

“We are planning to promote ideas related to the engagement of more diverse communities. Second innings – A crafted café experience by senior citizens. Including retired, abandoned senior citizens spending their lives in OLD age homes. Be Positive Café – An inclusive pop-up unit by HIV-positive youth. Engaging out-of-trade commercial sex workers and trafficking survivors. Matrimonial and Training placement services for specially-abled youth of various communities,” he said.

Priyank strongly believes that it is vital to keep trying to achieve your dreams. Giving an inspiring message to the aspiring entrepreneurs, Priyank said, “Always TRY what you dream of and even if you fail, dust off and attempt with more effort. Life is always about learning, never wait for the perfect moment of the perfect idea, every idea is unique and needs a passionate push to make it a success. What they should and shouldn’t do while starting up a business? Don’t do it just because you can, do it because it’s NEEDED. Always follow your instinct. Be clear about what you want to achieve.”

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