This differently abled daughter is making her mother proud by running her own business

The locality of Chetpet, in the heart of the Chennai city can be seen always buzzing with activity, with the usual traffic snarls everywhere.

Tucked a little away from all this hustle and bustle in the same area of Chetpet is Jagannathapuram where around 200 families from low income backgrounds reside. Madhavi and her mother Anita live here with their family of 5 members.

38 year old Madhavi was born with locomotor disabilities but that doesn’t deter her goal to be a successful entrepreneur. She is wheelchair assisted and has been running her own food business in the locale, for a few years now.

Madhavi’s mother Anitha wakes up at 4 AM in the morning and begins cooking while Madhavi and her brother help in prepping the vegetables. They always have a long day ahead with having to make basic breakfast items like Idly, Dosa and Vada followed by the lunch menu.

Setting up their shop in the tiny sit-out outside their home was not so convenient but the income was important. With no proper infrastructure for the shop, she had to close shutters during the monsoons. It was low business or sometimes no business when weather played spoilsport.

However, Madhavi kept at her business undeterred which has now paid off.

In the last three months, Madhavi has become more confident and hopeful and popular in her locality. In fact she is being seen in awe by her neighbourhood.

So, what has changed in Madhavi’s life now?

Madhavi and her mother Anitha still run their tiffin business but now in a more concrete space. Madhavi was identified by Tamilnadu Differently Abled Federation Charitable Trust as a beneficiary of the ‘Bunk Shop Business’ project in partnership with United Way Chennai. During the first phase of the project, Wells Fargo stepped in as the corporate partner to set up 15 bunk shops for differently abled beneficiaries. Madhavi is one of them. This project has enabled year round business for Madhavi and a permanent income for her family.

Madhavi beams with pride as she talks about how her self-esteem has shot up in the past three months after being able to run her food business from a proper shop-like space. She has also been trained with the necessary entrepreneurial skills to run the business and manage competitors. The eatery now has around 50 to 70 walk-ins every day. She has also gone one notch further with her brother Arun assisting her in door delivering food in nearby offices to regular customers.

Madhavi and her mother Anitha

Along with her family’s support, Madhavi made sure that the space around her shop was cleaned everyday properly and cleanliness and hygiene maintained on par with customer expectations. Seeing this, the Government sanitary workers have also been pitching in to ensure neatness in the space which was earlier prone to unwarranted vehicle parking and littering.

“I am the only person running such a food business in this locality and that makes me feel like a queen here. We started out with breakfast and lunch menu and have now expanded to evening dishes within a month. We even have school children eating here regularly which means they trust our quality and hygiene. My mom is a happier person today. I have a permanent business all year round without having to fear about the weather conditions. What more do we need other than the will to progress further?”, says a delighted Madhavi.

Anitha is a content mother, proud of her daughter whose ability shines through the way she runs the business. Few years down the lane, Madhavi aspires to expand her business to a busier locality and move up the entrepreneurial ladder.

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United Way Chennai’s bunk shop project in partnership with the Tamilnadu Differently Abled Federation Charitable Trust is one of our first successful initiatives to help build better livelihoods for the differently abled. We are expanding this project across Chennai and spreading out to more districts right now. If you wish to support this initiative, please write to us at anupama@unitedwaychennai.org/archana@unitedwaychennai.org