Priyank Patel's experience with the marginalised community and the disparity in Indian society forced him to commit himself to think upon the need for social change and be sufficiently equipped to help someone in dire need. He was always open to working for challenges, and the habit gave him a lot of learning for future projects.
Ten years back in 2012, he discovered an instant need for an engaging community space that motivates the most neglected people of society. He brainstormed it for a few months and ended up with the idea of a 'Chai café' that will utilise and encourage the society's marginalised part. With the vision of hiring such people to make them empowered and economically confident on their own, Café Nukkad- 'The ChaiTastic Teafe' was started in 2013.
Located in Chhattisgarh's capital city of Raipur, café Nukkad has been actively involving, utilising and empowering people of the transgender, dwarfs, deaf and learning-disabled communities for the past eight years.
After working for three years with speech-impaired people, Nukkad started hiring transgender people in 2017.
"It was way challenging and took six months to convince them to join Nukkad," Priyank, founder of the cafe, told The Logical Indian.
After joining, they were groomed on etiquette and had outraged society's myths about their working methods.
Now the people celebrate their days with them, and they feel economic independence and respect in society," Priyank pointed out.
Breaking Society's Stigma
The entrepreneur believes the notable achievement of working with trans people is that it is imperative to break society's stigma about them and said Nukkad had proven it by employing them and retaining them successfully.
Besides helping the marginalised community, the cafe is known for its artistic ambience social experiments like Tea & Tones-an initiative where guests can share their writings or interact with socially influential personalities, and digital detox-where one can get a discount by submitting your cell phones while relaxing, Gyaan Daan for book exchange and anti-depression movement 'Bol Do' that provides vocal assistance for people who want to vent out. It also has initiated sessions for discussion and debate about social taboos.
In addition, it puts efforts into creating a hassle-free experience for the consumers like setting sign language in the menu, developing sign codes for dishes and creating free sign language workshops, gender sensitisation workshops and numerous initiatives to make it more engaging and acceptive.
With delicious food, soothing aesthetic decor, and city spirit, Nukkad is crafted with passion and love.
"We do not consider Nukkad as just another cafe, but an inclusive place which is like extended home where people from all walks of life come over have a cup of chai and talk about their ideas, life issues and socialise. We currently serve more than 20 varieties of chai. From the Nukkad Favourite Masala Chai to Ginger Coffee, we also have a wide range of delectable finger food," Priyank explained.
Currently, Nukkad Tea Cafe has four outlets in two cities and has so far employed and empowered over 200 transgender community members, the hearing impaired, people with learning disabilities and trafficking survivors.
"Other than employing them, the café also grooms them on basic skills to help them grow in all aspects of life. Families who were earlier worried about their future now have hope and have a sense of pride," he said.
Recruitment and Training at the cafe are person-centric and customised. The recruitment policy has primarily two judging parameters, commitment for the cause and aspirations to attain professionalism.
In 2020, Nukkad received the National Award for the Best employer for creating an inclusive work environment. It has also bagged the prestigious Helen Keller Award.
"All our achievements prove that everything is possible if we open our hearts and give an equal chance to everyone," Priyank said.
"Extend your support and be ready to create inclusively, process-centric systems which work for the upliftment and empowerment of the marginalised communities. Make friends in different communities, and it helps diminish the gap," he said.