Stepping into the office of Mirakle Couriers in Mumbai, one hears the difference. Everyone works in silence and the only sound that wafts through is the rustling of envelopes and crunching of paper.
Be it the girls handling the computers or the delivery boys in eye-catching orange coloured T-shirts sorting parcels for delivery, everyone relies on sign language and text messages for communication. In fact, barring the operations manager, all employees are deaf.
In a short span, Mirakle Couriers has managed to achieve a huge customer base
As one wades through piles of magazines and parcels lying on tables and floors, it is clear that this nascent company has a huge customer base. Started in January 2009 in Mumbai by Dhruv Lakra, a former investment banker, this company with a difference sends a strong social message.
A HR College of Commerce alumnus with an MBA from Oxford (Skoll programme for social entrepreneurship), Dhruv has employed underprivileged deaf boys and girls in his company.
“I thought a courier service would be a good idea, for it does not require much verbal communication,” said Dhruv, who had this idea of engaging the deaf in some useful profession while travelling in a bus, where his co-passenger was a deaf boy.
He recounts how that hapless boy found it difficult to communicate with the conductor and the enormous discomfort he faced. That’s when it struck him how difficult life could be for a deaf person. He decided to do something good for them and the result was Mirakle Couriers.
Today Dhruv is conversant in sign language and employs over sixty deaf boys and girls in two Mumbai branches. He has plans to open more branches within the city.
Mirakle Couriers boasts of an impressive client list, which includes the likes of Godrej, Business India Group, IDFC, Birla Sun Life, and Tehelka.
“They are quite efficient and keep updating us from time to time on the delivery status,” says Kiran, Admin Coordinator, Index Media Pvt. Ltd.
The company looks after its employees well. Sameer Bhosale, operations manager atAndheri branch, makes every effort to put them at ease and build their self-confidence.
The company pays a minimum salary of Rs 5000 to its employees apart from providing them provident fund, and other employee benefits. Bus passes are given to them for commuting home from work.
Employees are encouraged to be independent. One of their employees, Geeta, was encouraged to travel in the ladies compartment in the local train that she took - and not in the one meant for the disabled.
Initially hesitant, today she is confident. Drawing inspiration from her, the boys too board general compartments now. Such simple confidence building measures have changed the lives of many employees.
“My previous job was tough as it involved putting diamond stones in sockets every day at a diamond polishing centre. After joining Mirakle, each day is a learning experience. I learnt computers and enjoy my work as an in-charge here,” Geeta communicated to me visibly happy and breaking into smiles.
She is married to another deaf boy who is employed as an assistant manager in a coffee outlet. This matriculate lady is now mentor to many deaf boys.
Just two years in business, Mirakle has been recognised as a social entrepreneurship. They are recipients of the Echoing Green Fellowship,
Helen Kellar Award, and the 2010 national award for the empowerment of people with disabilities.