Srinivasa Prasad did not let his mental disability deter him from combining his love for baking and the desire to help youngsters like him.

Suffering from Asperger Syndrome with ADHD, Srinivasa Prasad did not let it deter him from pursuing his dreams. The 22-year-old joined Vidya Sagar and completed his high school through NIOS in Chennai and is now an entrepreneur who turned his passion for baking into an enterprise.

Srinivasa’s love for baking cakes and cookies, paired with a motive to help people led to the opening of Sai Bakery, a neighbourhood initiative for special adults supported by D.O.R.A.I FOUNDATION. For this, Srinivasa took on the help of Sumithra Prasad, an active member of various NGOs like DORAI and Banyan.

Working together

“There are many centres catering to the needs of children with special needs, however, the real challenge is adulthood when the aging parents don’t know what to do with their young adults who are in their late 20s and 30s. Sai Bakery primarily aims to provide a platform to harness their talent, help them socialise, become productive and become a contributing member to the society, and gradually evolve in an organic manner,” says Sumithra.

Sai Bakery employs youngsters with developmental disabilities that comes under neurological impairment (conditions such as cerebal palsy, mental retardation, autism and multiple disabilities). Each special person’s inclination and strength are assessed, and tasks are assigned accordingly. Hands-on training is provided in different areas of production, packing and marketing. For instance, Gayathri is extremely competent in communication skills and thereforeis the marketing person taking orders and follow up. Srinivasa is good in the mixing and blending of dough and prefers to excel in the final shaping of the cookies, while Shamina, is a calm and patient personnel who is extremely careful in packing the cookies in the different sized boxes. Anjana makes sure that the execution of all these is done effectively.

A point to be noted is that Sai Bakery is the only bakery with over 25 eggless varieties of whole wheat, multigrain and butter free cookies which are hot favourites.

All-round success

Besides business, their day is packed with all-religion prayers, newspaper reading, general knowledge sessions, outdoor games, terrace gardening and weekly outing. But the most interesting part of the day is the lunch time aka ‘Sharing and Caring Time’. Every adult brings his/her lunch which is equally shared among the others. The team at Sai Bakery also gets to interact with other youngsters through their internship programmes (currently they have MBA interns from ITM-Siruseri). This gives the Sai Bakery team an opportunity to interact and express themselves and get to make new friends.

A yardstick to measure the success of their initiative will be the number of Likes and orders on their Facebook page (facebook.com/saibakery) which features daily updates.

The pages has been “liked” by people from India and abroad, many of whom put up requests to buy their assorted range of cookies. “There are requests from friends from Mumbai, Delhi, Boston, New Jersey, Sri Lanka and Dubai wanting to buy our cookies.”

Offline too, Sai Bakery has a lot of customers who regularly place bulk orders. Currently, MECs in Chennai are their regular clients, and moreover, they have been receiving enquiries for franchises across the country.

Contact: Ph: 9500059390

e-mail: saibakery2013@gmail.com