IN a world where businesses often prioritise profits over purpose, there are shining examples that stand as beacons of hope, reminding us of the transformative power of compassion, empowerment, and inclusion. One such heartwarming story is that of Mitti Café and its founder, Alina Alam. Back in 2017, Alina took the initiative to establish Mitti Café. Now, there are nearly 20 cafes dotted across the country, and the remarkable part is that each of these cafes is run by a dedicated team of hundreds, all of whom have physical, intellectual, or psychiatric disabilities.

These unique cafes have found homes within esteemed organisations like Infosys, Wipro, Accenture, Wells Fargo, IQVIA, ANZ Bank, NSHM, and Cytecare Hospital, to name a few. Serving an impressive tally of over 7 million meals and beverages in recent years, these cafes have done more than just provide sustenance; they’ve become powerful vehicles for spreading awareness about the crucial inclusion of individuals with disabilities in the workplace.

The origins

The origins of this venture can be traced back to Alam’s college days in 2016, a time when she underwent a profound transformation after watching “Nero’s Guests,” a thought-provoking documentary directed by acclaimed journalist P Sainath. The film’s focus on the sombre issue of farmer suicides in Vidarbha left an indelible mark on her conscience, compelling Alam to delve into the profound impact of confronting injustice and oppression.

Alam says that the documentary spurred her realisation that silence amid unfolding atrocities aligns one with the oppressor. This newfound understanding galvanised her to firmly turn away from conventional college placements, opting instead to immerse herself in organisations dedicated to fostering inclusion. This decision was a conscious step toward fortifying her steadfast convictions.

The seeds of Mitti Café were sown in Bangalore, India, in 2016, with a vision to create a safe space for people with intellectual disabilities. In Hindi, the term ‘mitti‘ translates to mud, and the cafe was aptly named mitti due to its profound symbolism. Alina Alam, a young and spirited entrepreneur, was determined to make a difference and challenge the conventional norms of society. With courage as her ally, Alina embarked on a journey that would soon touch countless lives.

Empowerment through inclusion

Mitti Café isn’t just a cafe; it’s a hub of empowerment and inclusion. Alina’s dream was to provide individuals with intellectual disabilities the opportunity to lead fulfilling lives and be an integral part of the workforce. By offering them meaningful employment and a chance to showcase their talents, Mitti Café has become a model for how businesses can create a positive impact on society.

Amidst a rich tapestry of differences encompassing religion, race, ideologies, geography, and gender, the cafe’s name draws attention to a universal truth. Irrespective of these variations, every individual originates from the same elemental mud and eventually returns to it. In this context, Mitti embodies a powerful notion of unity within diversity, a principle that resonates deeply with their core beliefs.

Breaking barriers and changing perceptions

One of the most inspiring aspects of Mitti Café’s story is how it challenges societal perceptions and biases. Alina Alam’s unrelenting efforts have shattered stereotypes and demonstrated that with the right support, individuals with disabilities can contribute meaningfully to society.

By offering meaningful employment and opportunities to individuals with physical, intellectual, or psychiatric disabilities, Mitti Café has not only created a haven but also a platform for these individuals to showcase their talents and skills. Through their work at the cafe, persons with disabilities are gaining financial independence, self-confidence, and a sense of belonging.

This groundbreaking approach challenges preconceived notions, demonstrating that diversity is not a hindrance but a wellspring of untapped potential. In a world where inclusivity is often an afterthought, Mitti Cafe has unapologetically pushed boundaries. Its existence serves as a resounding testament to the fact that barriers can be broken and that the power of humanity lies in embracing and celebrating differences.

The success of Mitti Cafe isn’t just about its social impact; it’s also about the delectable food that graces its menu. The cafe’s offerings are made with love and care, prepared by a team of dedicated individuals who pour their hearts into every dish. From sumptuous snacks to mouthwatering main courses and delightful desserts, Mitti Cafe serves up much more than just a meal; it serves up a taste of compassion and determination.

A ripple effect of goodness

Mitti Cafe’s impact extends far beyond its walls. As a social enterprise, its success has inspired others to follow suit, promoting a culture of inclusion and empathy. Alina’s story has become a source of motivation for budding entrepreneurs who seek to create businesses that prioritise purpose alongside profits. Mitti Cafe has proven that the path to success can be paved with kindness and a genuine desire to uplift others.

In the short span Mitti Café’s Alina Alam has been featured in the Forbes list of 30 under 30, is a Commonwealth Youth Awardee, and has won awards like the NCPEDP Mindtree Hellen Keller Award, Times of India-She Unlimited Award, Rotary Exemplar award, Microsoft Nipman Award, Tiecon Young Female Entrepreneur of the Year Award, amongst others.

Mitti Café and its founder, Alina Alam, remind us that unity, compassion, and determination can create powerful ripples of positive change in a world that often seems divided. Their journey from adversity to empowerment showcases the profound impact that a single individual can have on society. Mitti Cafe not only serves delicious food but also nourishes the spirit of inclusivity, proving that we can achieve remarkable feats and make the world a better place for all with courage and a big heart. To support , you can donate here:

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