Since 1991, “The Bakery Café”, has been redefining the Hospitality Sector through its unique way of serving people. Its uniqueness lies with its employees. Along with the quality food, accessibility and excellent service, The Bakery Cafe, while introducing Fast Food Culture in Kathmandu, has been known for accepting and employing hearing and speaking impaired people. Bikas Udhyami sat down with Mr. Sulav Lal Kakshapati, the Marketing Manager to talk about how The Bakery Cafe is promoting and serving the social cause of differently abled people in Nepal.
What is the idea behind employing differently-abled people in such service sector?
After working with differently abled person ata public event, Mr. Shyam Sundar Lal Kakshapati, the Chairman of Nanglo International, was impressed by their dedication and professionalism. As in most professional settings, they are not considered eligible for work, he got the inspiration to employ them. So in 1997, he started by hiring 12 young bright candidates, who had no previous work experience and no training in food and hospitality industry. Currently, the company has employed more than 50 speaking and hearing impaired people as well as persons with physical disabilities such as dwarfism.
How do you find persons for employment? What is the process of selecting these employees?
When we need more employees, we announce a vacancy for these people. We coordinate with different organizations working in field of differently abled people and find probable candidates for our organization. Candidates go through a selection process as any other person. We provide selected candidates with training and necessary communication skills for the job. In addition, every week, we meet and share about the changes in the industry and listen to their grievances and try to address these.
What changes have been brought in their lives?Employment at ‘The Bakery Cafe’ has brought positive changes in their lives and therefore is motivated to work with us. The most important thing that it has brought them is empowerment. They are successful in their personal as well as professional lives. They are able to sustain themselves. For example, recently one of the employees successfully organized the wedding of his son.
Similarly, one of the employees got an award in an international competition of disabled persons. Some employees are Futsal players. These are I think wonderful achievement made by our employees and these are examples of the changes that are brought by The Bakery Cafe in their lives.
What kind of training do you provide for these employees?
In the hospitality sector, the most important thing is communication. For maintaining effective service and quality, we provide communication training to all our employees. For coordinating with each other, every employee should understand sign language and the symbols. We provide training for communicating about the food and beverages, the way of serving and all other necessary issues needed in this industry.
Do all of your Branch have such employees? What kind of service do these people provide ?
We have altogether 9 outlets, and all outlet have these employees. They involve in direct interaction with customers. They are involved in Waiting, Delivery, Cashier, Catering and also Playing with kids (dwarves).
What is the feedback of the Customer after receiving the service from these employees?
As these people are loyal their work are commendable. We receive variety of reactions from customer. Because of the good customer feedback and the service quality offered we are being able to sustain in the market for so long. If some miscommunication occurs, there are our other people who will handle the situation.
What are the challenges faced for hiring such employees and for business?
The employees are our strength. Our challenges do not lie with them, but more in the communication area.
Talking about business, we used to be the only ones in the market. However, today competition has increased. Nowadays, there are a lot of fast food companies in Kathmandu Valley and increased competition is a challenge we have faced lately. However, as we value our customer and being a brand itself, we have been able to maintain our standard and have earned the loyalty of our customers.
What are some of the main reasons why differently abled persons are hired by so few people in Nepal?
Still there is discrimination between peoples. I think people don’t realize their inner capability. People believe that they are incapable of doing their job. And also due to lack of interest to train these kind of staffs. But If we do not judge people on the basis of physical abilities then certainly we can create more opportunities for these people inside Nepal.
What can youth who want to start such business learn from ‘The Bakery Cafe’?
Passion is the most important thing for achieving success. For a business operating in the service and hospitality sector, the business should not compromise on the quality of the service provided. Healthy food and quality Service can be the mantra for achieving success in this sector. Pricing should be in accordance with the service and quality.
What are the future plans of ‘The Bakery Cafe’? Have you thought of providing a Franchise license if anyone is willing to obtain one?
We have the plan to expand our branches and outlets in different parts of Nepal. However, we have not thought of expanding internationally till today. May be after the coverage inside Nepal we could move towards establishing ‘The Bakery Cafe’ as an international brand.
We highly value the quality and service for our customer. To be able to maintain this high quality in the business, we don’t have such provisions for franchises. If we want to expand, we would go for new branch rather than a franchise model.
How do you see the landscape of Nepalese Business Environment?
The Nepalese Business environment is growing. The private sector is doing incredible business, but for effective business environment, government support is lacking. If there is proper coordination between the the private and government sector, economic prosperity for all that we dream of is not too far away.
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