Mirakle Couriers is a courier delivery company with a difference. They employ underprivileged deaf people who have almost no other means to earn a livelihood.
Why start a company employing deaf people?
India has one of the highest deaf populations in the world. NGO’s and charities try to help individuals marginalized by society, but they rely on gift funding, which often dries up and is not sustainable.
People with disabilities are discriminated against as businesses are reluctant to employ them. The disabled are largely seen as a liability; incapable and impossible to train. The situation is worse for the deaf since businesses lack sign language skills necessary to work with them. As a result there are virtually no job opportunities for the deaf in India.
How Mirakle does it:
Mirakle Couriers wants to change the situation and economically empower the deaf community. At the same time, they want to provide them with better visibility in the Indian society and bring attention to their cause. Mirakle was started by Dhruv Lakra a former investment banker, who describes it as
A Social Business, creating empowerment through professional excellence, not charity.
Mirakle Couriers are the winners of Helen Keller Award 2009, and a recipient of the Echoing Green Fellowship 2009. The company hires underprivileged deaf boys and girls.
All planning and organisation at Mirakle Couriers is conducted in Indian Sign Language (ISL). Branch managers manage their team through sign language and meetings are also conducted in ISL. Communications from the field are via SMS messages. Deaf people are restricted from driving in India, as a result, field staff use public transport (trains and buses) which helps keep costs down. Public transport is also more efficient, and environmentally friendly.
The deaf boys do field deliveries. The sorting of mail and data reporting is done by deaf girls. These girls have never used a computer before, but have now been trained (can you imagine doing MS Excel training in ISL?) to scan and process delivery reports on a computer. The automation helps Mirakle remain efficient, provide a reliable delivery service, and allows customers to track deliveries online.
By ensuring that they are a profitable business, Mirakle Couriers are able to provide a sustainable means of livelihood for the hearing disabled.
Currently, Vodafone India is Mirakle’s biggest corporate customer. Mirakle does about 35,000 deliveries a month for Vodafone at their South Bombay branch.
The company plans to grow its business by on-boarding more customers, and eventually have more branches across India. Socially conscious businesses such as Vodafone, will probably be the first port of call for Mirakle. The company is keen to be seen as a regular business that provides great value, and at the same time solves a social problem.