A kadak chai is the fuel that drives many Indians. Whether to take a break from the monotony of office or awaken a sleepy mind, the right cup of tea does it all!
Madhya Pradesh-based entrepreneur Vinod Pandey is leveraging this power of the humble beverage in the most innovative way.
Imagine a tea stall that not only provides you with refreshing tea, but also shares information on employment opportunities!
Christened ‘Rozgar Dhaba’ with the tagline Chai Ke saath Rozgaar ki Jaankari Bhi, the innovative project started in 2018.
With his three friends, Pandey set up the Dhaba in Shehore district’s Nashrullaganj block, Madhya Pradesh.
Today, they run two such stalls in Madhya Pradesh. (L) Youth at Rozghar Dhaba. (R) Vinod Pandey
These dhabas/information hubs have catered to over 1,000 people a month and also held 20 job fairs!
Besides, the revenue from tea sales are reinvested in the same village to re-enrol girls who have dropped out of school through another initiative girls2schools.
The Better India got in touch with Vinod Pandey to know more about the genesis of the concept.
He begins, “I am originally from Bihar. As a child, it was a common thing for people to leave the state in search of jobs, especially daily wage labourers. One of my older cousins also migrated to Punjab. He never came back. He lived in slums without any proper work or access to healthcare and died there. This was a trigger point. I was 12 at the time.”
This vision to help rural jobseekers find work and avoid unsafe migration to cities came true in the form of Rozgar Dhaba.
During his higher education in 2007, when he worked on a project on the employment and unemployment situation in Delhi, the idea emerged.
Ten years and a few experiments later, it formally started in May 2018.
Today, he runs two such dhabas which have a network of 70 registered entities like government agencies, skill centres, NGOs, the district agriculture centre, grameen centres, and small local businesses that keep the dhaba updated about job vacancies.
The working of the model
According to the 2011 census, 833 million (68.84%) live in rural areas while 377 million stay in urban areas. And over 453.6 million people in the country are migrants. This constitutes for over 37.8% of the total population!
Pandey highlights how migration from rural areas to cities isn’t based on a lack of employment but the lack of information about locally-available jobs.
“When we called community meetings, we realised the jarring gap in how people had no single-point contact to find employment leads in villages. In the cities, different employment portals like LinkedIN Naukri, Monster.com help us access these. But what about people in small villages? So we came up with the idea of a centre that would bring both employers and employees together in an informal setting. What better than the traditional tea stall or dhaba?”
The Rozgar Dhaba collects job vacancy information from local vendors and employers along with details about jobseekers, finally connecting the two.
Youth at the job information centre
Besides job-related queries, the dhaba markets (through advertising) farmer collectives who want to sell their produce and lists buyers looking to buy it. It also posts information on villagers who rent farm equipment, school and college admission notices and government schemes.
Employers are given access to a list of prospective candidates with their contact details and qualifications.
While the dhaba charges for tea and snacks, the information is dispensed completely free of cost. It also uses WhatsApp to disseminate this information. Apart from the sale of tea, the dhaba earns revenue from advertisements and farm produce stalls.
At present, the dhaba has five employees directly involved in the day-to-day functioning. Their salaries are paid using the revenue the tea stall makes and smaller donations by good samaritans.
But during the initial years, Pandey shelled money from his own pocket (his savings) to sustain the initiative.
“The success of one dhaba will help set up another and upscale the initiative. It’s a revenue-based development model and we look forward to it being a policy solution for unsafe migration and unemployment in countries like India,” says Pandey.
His vision is to open 100 such dhabas across Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and reach 10 million people in the next five years and make India unemployment-free.
He signs off with a message for young entrepreneurs:
“Get ready to fail and don’t be disappointed. Failure is the first step towards success. But whatever you do, don’t do it just for the sake of it. Give it your best efforts. If you fail, it means there is still a lot more effort left to put in.