Every new and sustainable pathway for employment created for the differently abled is indeed a miracle for those who seek to support themselves and their families.
INDIA INClusive sheds the spotlight on Mirakle Couriers not only for being a unique ‘for profit’ enterprise that hires able Deaf individuals as its primary work force but for also being a trendsetter of sorts on how able Deaf individuals can be valuable employees in a supply chain or logistics business.
Dhruv Lakra, the founder of Mirakle, couriers does not believe in Charity. He is in the business of channelising the skill set of the Deaf to run a successful and profitable enterprise. Dhruv very early in life decided that his calling lay in the social sector. Being an ex-investment banker, he went on to do an MBA from Oxford University, London.
Like many Founders, he stumbled upon this idea quite by accident through a journey on a local bus where his co-passenger was Deaf. Dhruv witnessed some of the difficulties that a Deaf individual faces, even for a short bus ride. He realised that being Deaf is in fact a very isolating condition as one cannot be heard, cannot understand or be understood unless both people know & understand sign language.
The statistics are shocking – there are over 6 million unemployed Deaf in India. Many who are 10th pass cannot even do basic math. Communicating through sign language itself varies from region to region based on the local language of the region.
The more he researched this space, he realised that as Deafness is an unheard, unseen and inexpressible disability, it is one of the most neglected ones with respect to empathy, technology, aid and support. This made Dhruv even more determined to try and fight the odds and impact this space.
It did not take long for someone like Dhruv to realise that a Courier feeder service was a possible channel of employment of the Deaf, and thus Mirakle Couriers took shape from a humble 3 first employees to its current strength of 40 employees.
The Deaf have a very strong visual sense, both in terms of attention to detail and memory. They also have a great ability to focus. These are all very valuable skill sets for a courier delivery person.
At Mirakle, two or three Operation guys handle the Client interface via phone calls, deaf women are hired to handle the backend work and deaf men work as delivery persons.
Mirakle hires individuals directly without using an NGO partner – most of the employees are from a lower income bracket but a basic level of education is required as addresses need to be communicated via messages and WhatsApp. On the job training takes a week – which is also a testing period for whether the job is suitable and liked by the candidate. The employee’s salaries and terms are at par with standard business practices.
Nothing really worth doing is ever easy and when it comes to anyone trying to pave a path towards inclusion, especially in India – the job is that much tougher.
As Dhruv explains, he has faced challenges at 3 levels and our aim is to spell these out with the hope of creating an awareness as well as a sensitivity to these difficulties faced.
The mindset – Corporates often palm off magazines and mailer shipments to Mirakle, avoiding important Corporate documents as there is a mindset of doubt related to the ability of a Deaf delivery person or an organisation like Mirakle.
Timelines – The Deaf cannot drive in India, so the employees are dependent on the very undependable public transport system in India and therefore Mirakle would perhaps take a day or two longer to deliver a consignment .This expectation is always spelt out to the Client, who very often misunderstands this as inefficiency rather than an actual constraint that the Deaf face in India. However, for time bound deliveries and for international couriers, Mirakle does have an option of delivery via Bluedart at a higher cost.
Feel Good Charity – Last but not the least Dhruv, as the proud founder of a competitive business is seeking opportunities where Corporates partner with Mirakle for their business and not as an outlet for feel good charity where a major consignment is handed to a competitor and a few parcels to Mirakle.
Amongst other Clients, presently Mirakle Couriers is doing a trial run for Amazon in selected parts of Mumbai.
Slowly yet surely the message is being received and their business is being appreciated.With the right kind of support, Mirakle aims to expand to other cities across India.
We at INDIA INClusive hope more Corporates will partner with Mirakle and more Companies in other Logistics businesses will be inspired to hire able Deaf individuals.
Mirakle Couriers is a National Awardee from the President of India.
For further information – you could visit www.miraklecouriers.com