A small quaint shop in Madhura Nagar, Hyderabad and a brand new grocery truck – that’s all the presence Swacch Organic Bazaar has in the thriving city. Outwardly, the name might sound like just another organic retail outlet, but the social enterprise has a farther-reaching impact on society than meets the eye. The shop is operated completely by two special young adults, assisted periodically by children who face learning challenges. The store is founded by Suparna Bajaj with the help of Sahithi Reddy and Pooja Raina.
“Ranging from taking orders to delivering them, these youngsters manage everything perfectly They are getting hands-on experience in business management in an enjoyable, creative way,” asserts Suparna, in a conversation with Efforts For Good. She adds how the kids are enjoying an upfront exposure to the real world and confidently dealing with every challenge.
Why Swacch Organic Bazaar stands out
“It’s a great experience to work in the store. Previously we were under training at the school and now we are full-time employees – the transition has been amazing. We have acquired a lot of life skills. I really enjoy working here with my friends. Some problems do come up at times, but the positive learning environment really helps us,” one of the employees shares happily.
Suparna Bajaj, a proud mother, has always been an advocate of creative, experiential education rather than textbook-based rote-learning. In addition, she is an organic farming enthusiast, with her own flourishing farm of chemical-free vegetables and fruits. Together with her co-founders, she decided to amalgamate the two aspects together – thus birthing Swachh Organic Bazaar in 2017.
A to Z of organic products
“Aside from fresh produce from my farm and a few other organic farms in the neighbourhood, the shop sells A to Z of organic products – rice, pulses, cold-pressed oils, homemade snacks, baked goods as well as sustainable cutlery. At the start of the week, we send out a list of our products to the clients. The shop has a considerable number of conscious customers, who place their orders through WhatsApp or calls.”
“The permanent employees, along with the kids, jot down the orders and pack the items which are later collected by the customers from the shop or delivered to their doorstep. Our special kids flawlessly supervise every little thing. As part of the home science curriculum, the kids have learnt to bake a wide range of breads and other products. We are super proud of how much expertise they have acquired in such a short span of time,” declares Suparna.
The truck is the latest addition in the accomplishments of Swacch Organic Bazaar. Launched very recently, the truck is bound to roam through the neighbourhood delivering orders at customers’ doorstep.
A unique learning experience
While the main store is run by the two adults, both over 21 years of age, the young children take turns to get involved in the day-to-day operations after school hours. “For the children, it’s refreshing to get out of the classrooms and training centres. They see, touch and feel vegetables and grains to identify them. They weigh the products, calculate bills, and thereby learn the basic rules of Maths. Some of these kids are even appearing for their board examinations now,” shares Suparna.
Setting up a professional work culture
The permanent employees of the store are entitled to monthly salary and performance-based incentives. While they are rewarded for extra work, they are also penalised for late turn-ups or other negligence. The work culture has been strictly kept in accordance with a professional set up.
The founding team was caring enough to provide wholesome guidance and training to these youngsters before employing them in their shop. They worked for a while as managing stuff at a popular luxury hotel in Hyderabad as well as at an organic farm.
Gradually, the youngsters got inducted the tenets of a positive work culture. They learnt punctuality and keeping up with daily goals. They learnt to deal with different types of clients and address all their grievances patiently. “That’s when we knew that they were soon-to-be adept professionals,” she adds.
“As adults, we need to unlearn our preset notions and try to see the world through the eyes of the kids. That is how we can help build a better and more beautiful society,” the two co-founders resonate together.