ICanFlyy Café serves more than just coffee
The café at Valmikee street is run by differently abled people. It aims to restore their dignity and give them the freedom to express.
The brainchild of Minu Budhia (Founder-Director) and her daughter Priyam Budhia, Café ICanFlyy is a one-of-a-kind cafe which is run by special needs individuals with the objective of empowering them, giving them dignity and restoring to them their rightful place in society.
Being serviced by trained young adults with special needs, Café ICanFlyy is continuously breaking barriers and myths surrounding the capabilities of special needs individuals. "Don't imagine it. Do it. Keeping this in mind, I have created a sheltered workplace where special individuals work with dignity and confidence. It is time we gave them the place they deserve in society," says Minu Budhia. The café ensures that these youngsters not only lead a life that brings them joy but also develop skills that help them become gainful employees and budding entrepreneurs.
Budhia added, "When my younger daughter Prachi, who is a special child, was growing up, it was my nightmare that what will she do when she grows up?" Adds co-founder Preeyam Budhia, "It is our dream to make their impossibles possible and their unachievables achievable". She informed that the ICanFlyy Food Factory has been around since the time ICanFlyy started – for producing packaged products.
"We also took part in every prominent exhibition. The products would sell out. That was a good starting point. We are also doing small catering orders and home delivery for customized cakes. The kids had really picked it up. That gave us the confidence that we could open a café. This café would really build their social skills. They will take the orders and interact with you. You have to go and pay at the counter and once you are back, they will serve you. Ever since I moved back to India, I have been dying to do something in F&B. A café with a cause is great", Preeyam explained.
The main objective of Café ICanFlyy is to give these children the freedom to express themselves, to restore their dignity and send a message to society that special need individuals need to be respected for who they are and what they can do.
"The children have been training for the last three to four months. We have six kids working in the café. They are all part of ICanFlyy. We made a list of FAQs. Me, along with the special educators, trained them. It was difficult, but this has been so fulfilling. For the past month, we have had a lot of in-house tasting going on. They were really helpful because, in the first two tastings, it was like 'is this place going to run?' We got a lot of critical feedback. Finally, we are more than ready. No one can feel the difference when they come here. There are supervisors to help the six kids. I have employed two of them and started a stipend. I told one of their mothers; see your daughter has started earning. She will have a bank account to handle now" smiles Minu.
The students at Café ICanFlyy with an interest in F&B receive training in food preparation, bakery and café service. Working or training at the cafe is not only fun and exciting for the students, but also has multiple benefits ranging from raising confidence and self-esteem to teaching them life and social skills.
The café is a cosy, quirky, colourful space with indoor and outdoor seating and free WiFi so that one can catch up with friends, have a quick business lunch, high tea, or unwind after work. The food will tantalise your taste buds while the rich, aromatic coffee serves up the right dose of caffeine. You can also pick up healthy, pocket-friendly snacks from the ICanFlyy Food Factory.
Resonating the theme of the café - 'Freedom of being who you are', this is a platform for unrecognized talent wherein emerging singers can take part in surprise karaoke evenings, open mics, live music, board games and a clutch of other activities like brand launches. In October for example, events have been planned around Halloween, tea tasting sessions and karaoke evenings. Café food is delivered by Swiggy, Zomato and comes along with snazzy gift vouchers.
Says Gowri Mishra, a student at St Xavier's and a regular, "There's nothing new in other cafés. I love coming here for the karaoke and other events".
The café is a vital part of ICanFlyy, a vocational and skill building institute for special needs individuals. Children between the ages of six and nine can join the Twinkling Stars programme, children between the ages of 10 and 14 can join the Rising Stars programme and teenagers who are 15 plus can join the Superstar Programme. Currently, our oldest students are in their early mid-thirties.
Students at ICanFlyy have some special needs. They receive vocational training and build their skills, but also become a part of a community that is open, non-judgemental, and embraces the idea that being different does not make one less of an individual.
The institute began its journey as a unit of Caring Minds on Sarat Bose Road. ICanFlyy is now located on 4B Valmikee Street, Kolkata 700026. Classes are held from Mondays through Fridays.
At ICanFlyy, the focus is on four key objectives, developing respect, providing vocational training, creating jobs and most importantly, changing lives.
Special educators and experienced industry professionals provide training tailored to the unique needs of each student. On-site job training equips students to work independently in a home set-up or under minimal supervision at various workplaces.
Training modules include Café customer service, Bakery prep and Packaging, Data entry and art and craft. The café ICanFlyy, the ICanFlyy Food Factory, the Digital Studio and the Art Studio
equip the students to navigate uncharted territory, thereby building their self-confidence and self-worth. ICanFlyy products are stocked at Satyanarayan Bhandar and Krishna in Alipore. Earlier, the crafts were exhibited at CII.
At ICanFlyy Digital Studio, the special needs young adults are proficient in Microsoft Word and Excel and can deliver error-free and speedy project completion. These children have done database
work of Jalan Distributors, J D Birla, BRM Insurance and so on. At The Food Factory, the young adults get an opportunity to bring out the chef inside them. On offer is a wide variety of sweet and savoury products that are not only delectable but also healthy and FSSAI approved.
Customised gift hampers, catering events and doorstep delivery are the services that are provided by those training at the food unit.