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Kids on a truck: how Swacch is going mobile

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The children running Swacch, The Organic Bazaar, in Hyderabad, are all set to go mobile next week

At the Atmanirbhar retail and stationery stores in Chennai, people suffering from mental health concerns are gainfully employed in accounting, data entry and sales. But the reason Hyderabad-based Swacch, The Organic Bazaar, stands out, is that children and young adults with learning challenges run the show. From stocking and inventory, to vendor management and billing, they do it all.

Walk into the organic store stocked with fresh vegetables, rice and organic produce, on a Wednesday afternoon, and 14-year-olds are busy kneading fluffy mounds of dough for cheesy mini baguettes and focaccia bread. Once baked and packed, the loaves are delivered the next day to customers across Hyderabad. Set up in January last year, Swacch is the brainchild of Sahithi Reddy (who also runs Kshetram, a home schooling centre, where the store is located) and Superna Bajaj. The young team is now gearing up for its mobile truck, which will hit the road on March 28.

Kids on a truck: how Swacch is going mobile
 

Bajaj tells me how Kshetram supports children with learning issues as they struggle in a traditional classroom setting. The 51-year-old had started organic farming two years ago, and later, started selling her produce in collaboration with other farms nearby. “Reddy then suggested I scale up and host organic bazaars at Kshetram. It was great to see the children enjoying setting up the stall, weighing and packing vegetables. They were interacting with others and learning a whole lot.”

When I reach out to Shiv, Superna’s son, he says there’s a lot to be done: organising shelves, packing, and reaching out to customers. “What I enjoy the most is cleaning. It’s fun!,” says the 23-year-old student at Kshetram. Swacch’s shelves are stocked with fresh cow peas, banana stem, beets, cabbage, along with lentils, heritage rice, millet murukkus, organic chikki made from various plant seeds, handwoven palm leaf baskets and trays from Thiruchendur. “We have a bazaar every Thursday. A WhatsApp broadcast goes out to our clients (currently 150) with the list of produce available,” says Bajaj, who helps the children with administrative and back-end work at the store. Pottery, weaving, art, carpentry and crochet are also taught during the day.

Kids on a truck: how Swacch is going mobile
 

Seeing the success of the bazaars, the duo ventured into home delivering produce. “We used to take weekly orders and when the numbers were too many, we scaled up and set up Swacch to give children first-hand experience in running a business. Today, Shiv and Shailaja Asar, 27, are in-charge, along with a full-time coordinator,” says Bajaj, adding how the mobile truck will head out to a different locality everyday and give the Kshetram children a chance to explore their city and meet new people.

It will be on a trial basis until April. They close in May for the summer and the truck will be fully operational in June.

The Swacch Organic Bazaar mobile truck will hit the roads on March 28. For details, email swacchorganic@gmail.com or call 06303647478

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Printable version | Jan 29, 2020 11:47:17 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/swacch-the-organic-bazaar-is-going-mobile-next-week/article26607578.ece

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