BY GORKY BAKSHI When others underestimate potential of visually challenged people, this man, Akash Bhardwaj, 32, started a travel company with staff consisting of visually impaired and acid attack victims. Akash started a travel company called Khaas in Delhi, with a perspective to bring these people into mainstream and to empower them. All the telephonic conversations, meeting appointments, presentation making, closing deals and organising groups events are carried out by visually challenged women, at Khaas. Those seeking a job needs to undergo training for two months. He has given the option to work-from-home, to all those people who have mobility issues and cannot travel.
How he started
He always wanted to do something for the society and that’s what gave an idea to start a travel company. Says Akash Bhardwaj: “In 2015, during Diwali while shopping at Delhi’s Lajpat Nagar, I saw a lady who was partially blind and had acid scars on her face. She was selling balloons and trying very hard to earn single penny. I spoke to her to find out about her hardship.” He further adds: “She said a boy in her locality threw acid on her face and her husband dumped her. He also abandoned two of their kids, so the woman had to look after them as well.
Due to the acid attack, she lost her job as a security-in-charge in a shopping mall. The mall administration fired her because of the scar on her face. I was shocked and but was impressed that she has excellent communication skills and could speak fluently in English.” This incident inspired him to start a company where such people could showcase their potential. He has proved that face value is not only mark of success but your talent and determination is.
How it works
A small office of Khaas, is located on the fourth floor of a building where these women come everyday in proper uniforms. With help of few specifically designed devices they work without external help. “Their work includes searching for perspective clients such as school principals, HR managers, corporate event organizers etc. They write emails and make phone calls to fix appointments. They mutually decide who will go for the meeting either me or any of the employee.
They meet clients and finalize the deals.” Akash explained with an example: “Couple of weeks back, one of our employees was willing to go on a school trip to Qutub Minar with a group of 280 kids as a tour supporter. She closed this deal entirely by herself. The school principal and director were so impressed by her work and they requested us to send her to accompany the children on the tour.”
Employees are also happy with their work and working environment. They found themselves satisfied because they earn money and respect. One of the employees, Dipti said: “I am happy to work here, I feel proud while finalizing deals with clients. We have some physical differences as compared with other people, but we have a right to lead a life with dignity.” Akash also feels proud on his employees and willing to introduce more people to the group.
Employees at Khaas are working on a software JAWS (Job Access With Speech) which allows visually impaired people to read with the aid of text-to-speech output. The staff is adept to use smartphones too, which makes their job easier.