Gradually, the notion of people with disabilities offering a dial-a-rickshaw service is getting public receptiveness. With more customers and partners, we are moving towards our aim of making the project sustainable. During the last three months, the entire team of the Rickshaw Project has managed to attain the following goals:
We hope to have your continued support in future as well to steer us forward our journey of mainstreaming the people with disabilities.
The Rickshaw Project Team
These are exciting times for The Rickshaw Project. As we strive to advocate for and raise awareness about people with disabilties - we have made significant strides to further a mandate through hiring, public speaking and product innovation - demonstrating that we are walking our talk!
The Rickshaw Project’s core team of three physically-impaired individuals after having undergone extensive training are now going to be led, from 10th February 2014, by Zulqarnain Asghar - the first visually impaired clinical psychologist in Pakistan. Zulqarnain brings with him 10 years of advocacy and awareness campaign experience in the disability sector and NOWPDP is thrilled and honored to have him onboard.
But the work has not stopped, the Project Drivers, with the assistance of the Advocacy & Training Officer, are actively involved in collaborative efforts with educational and private institutions in the last 3 months while catering to regular cutomers:
MOVING PEOPLE, CHANGING MINDS!!
Dearest supporters, friends, and cheerleaders,
It's time for another update on The Rickshaw Project - I'm sure you're all anxiously waiting to hear what we've been up to!
The Rickshaw Team decided to bring on board a super-skilled mechanic. We met Shabaz when we were purchasing our three shiny new rickshaws from Stahlco, a local rickshaw manufacturer. He was working with them at the time, but had already given his one month's notice, when we decided it would be perfect to scoop him up for our own team! He's not only keeping our rickshaws in tip-top shape, but also handling customers, tracking rickshaw usage, billing, and other operational tasks. This has really helped me (the project manager) as it has freed up a lot of my time to work on advocacy and sensitizations efforts.
Speaking of sensitization efforts, the international chain of restaurants the Rickshaw Team has been working with has met their 2 percent quota for people with disabilities! They are not yet announcing this as they want to ensure that every single person with disabilities hired is fully, gainfully, and happily integrated into their respective environments with the help of our team's sensitization work. We are now in the early stages of discussions with a large corporation with factories across Pakistan to do the same thing - work with them to ensure a completely inclusive work environment at their Head Office and all their factories over the next year and a half. And who better to do this than our very own Rickshaw Team! :D
We are also currently searching for more customers. We've managed to get some regular customers who are pleased with the service and happy to be partnering with us. We've begun generating revenue, and are seeing it rise steadily each month. We've stuck to word-of-mouth advertizing thus far so as not to be overwhelmed with calls. Most of our customers so far have heard about our service from some and have wanted to try it. So we feel our strategy is working quite well!
Finally, we will have a new person join our team on the 1st of November. She will be working on developing advocacy and sensitization materials with the Rickshaw crew-members. We want to incorporate audio-visual material in our training sessions (one-minute clips depicting the various barriers faced by people with disabilities in society). Our new team member will spend her days working on this exciting, essential, constantly evolving task.
As always, please do feel free to email me with any questions you may have. I can be reached at email@example.com and at +92 345 827 7017
PS - I have attached a couple of recent pictures of the team. Enjoy!
Dearest friends and supporters,
It's been a few months since our last update, and this time we have exciting news -
We've begun operations on a small scale!!!
As you may recall, we made the difficult decision of selling off our second-hand rickshaws. With the money we collected from the sale, we have bought three shiny new ones, with a fourth on the way! These new, smooth-running rickshaws have literally changed our lives for the better. It was a good decision, and one we were able to make due to your continued support and trust.
We've also experienced the thrilling milestone of having someone sign up as our very first customer! Adama moved to Karachi from the Ivory Coast a few months ago, and has been using our rickshaws to get to and from work everyday. We're so happy/pleased/delighted to have him on board! A picture of him, with Omair (the Executive Officer of NOWPDP) and myself is attached below.
Another piece of interesting news - a marketing genius (who wishes to remain anonymous) recently donated some of his time and skills to give us some marketing advice. He enouraged us to begin operations quietly, and continue to keep a low profile. His advice was to stick to word-of-mouth marketing for now, along with targeted promotion of the project at offices, schools, and universities until we have at least 50 rickshaws in our fleet. That is when he promises to step in and help us promote the project on a large scale. We're truly lucky to have such incredibly dedicated and helpful mentors/supporters!
The Rickshaw Project Team is doing well. They have been taking a lead in holding disability sensitization sessions at an international chain of restaurants here in Karachi. The management of the restaurant approached us, as they are keen to make the restaurant an inclusive space for both customers and employees. Our project team has therefore held 6 sessions with the restaurant staff so far, with about 21 to go. As a result, about 35 people with various disabilities have been hired by this restaurant, and are being put in roles matched to their skills sets and abilities. Our team is also working with them on the physical accessibility of the restaurants - a rare first in Pakistan!
The team has also been quite tough on me as the project manager when it comes to meeting deadlines and getting things done. They are involved in all decision-making, are a crucial part of all project plans, and have been playing the important role of managing operations until we can find the funds to hire a full-time operations manager. There is a true sense of ownership and responsibility displayed by each team-member, which makes this an incredible environment to work in.
Finally, we will soon be pitching our three-year plan to various parties with the goal of finding a suitable long-term sponsor to support us by helping us with our operational costs until such time as we break even. It's going to be a tough journey, but we're certain of our projections, plans, and ambitions, so we're completely ready to do this!
As always, please feel free to email with with any questions or concerns that you may have at firstname.lastname@example.org
We wish you a wonderful day, and thank you for your constant support and encouragement.
Lots of love,
The Rickshaw Project team
Dear friends and supporters,
I hope this update finds you all in good spirits!
The Rickshaw Project has come a long way since our last update. After a year of experimentation and trial, and finally finding the perfect retrofitting solution, the team (Mustafa, Imran, Pervaiz, Mohammad Ali, Rauf, and Reem) with a lot of help from Nabil and Omair (the core NOWPDP team) have made a rather huge decision - we're selling off our second-hand rickshaws and purchasing brand new ones. Let me explain further...While our second-hand, retrofitted rickshaws were little miracles that have given us in depth knowledge and understanding of, well, rickshaws, we decided it would be better to have brand new ones until we have the funds to hire our own in-house mechanic and run our own mini-workshop for small repairs and day-to-day maintenance.
New rickshaws are more fuel efficient and reliable. The retrofitting for accessibility will be done by the manufacturer, ensuring quality and safety. We also want to encourge the widespread manufacturing/sale of hand-controlled rickshaws, so that anyone with a disability has access to them, not just people working with The Rickshaw Project. We feel it's another small step towards inclusion and equal access.
We've got a good price for each of the second-hand rickshaws, and will be using the funds to purchase new ones. Your donations will still be utilized in the same way; however, since there will be no need to retrofit, the funds will suppliment the money we get from the sale of the second-hand rickshaws, and go towards buying new ones.
Your help and support has given us the tools to truly understand everything before we begin scaling, and to make all the right choices to ensure long-term sustainability. For that, we thank you.
Feel free to email me with any questions you my have - email@example.comPS - We are however, keeping the rickshaw that we experimented on, and that brought everything and everyone together. We just can't let her go.
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