Nairobi’s Pallet Café, as it is called, has an unusual business strategy in that the majority of its employees are deaf.
“The story and inspiration behind opening Pallet Café and establishing it the way it is, is empowerment. We need to empower people who are differently abled. Not help them, empower them. Give them a life. And that is what is behind Pallet Café”, explains Susan Watkins, General Manager at Pallet Café in Lavington, Nairobi.
Work options for those with hearing impairment are scarce in Kenya, and Pallet Café’s transfer has provided a lifeline for those who work here.
The recruitment process for the differently abled ranges from walk-in job searchers to referrals from various people or organisations.
Before they are authorized to interact with customers, the new employees must complete a two-week training session.
Kabiru Mwenja is a frequent visitor who shares his experience.
“The service here is amazing, I think I come here may be too often than I should but I am a big fan of the people as well. I think I have got to know the people working here and it is an added benefit to learn some sign language.
“I’ve just learned the sign for thank you so far; I’m still working on other alphabets,” remarked regular client Kabiru Mwenja.
Pallet Café has expanded to two new locations, one in Nairobi’s Gigiri and the other on Kenya’s coast, as a result of the strong response.