David’s talent for cooking far exceeds the challenges he faces due to autism. Rekha being wheelchair-bound does not limit her ability to be a successful cashier. And Irfan’s locomotor disability does not dull his natural leadership abilities. What all three have in common is the experiential training they received to develop skills that focus not on their limitations but on their abilities.

David, Rekha and Irfan form a small part of the cohort of 36% of Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) who have gainful and dignified work. As per a Ministry of Statistics report, almost 64% of PwDs in India don't have jobs. Despite disabled individuals being capable of productive work, what contributes to the lack of opportunity is social stigma, discrimination, lack of support & training as well as depleted self-esteem.

As part of continuous efforts to address these challenges, Flipkart Foundation has partnered with MITTI Social Initiatives to empower PwDs with employability skills for a lifetime, so that they can take the first step towards a bright career and an independent future.

Since the needs of persons with disabilities vary, the training too is customised to be experiential in nature. So far, the 45-day residential training programs in Kolkata and Bengaluru have equipped nearly 250 disabled youth with skill training. The holistic program empowers trainees to embrace challenges, celebrate victories, and master the art of café operations. The guided mentorship and the structured on-the-job learning format nurture their independence and increase their confidence.

Upon completion of the skill training, trainees are productively employed with a nearly 70% successful placement rate. The skilling program not only equips youth with disabilities to respect their talents and harness their potential, but also assures families that their child has access to a sustainable livelihood. The program truly celebrates the abilities of the PwDs, as they take their rightful place as contributing members in nation-building.