ABEY KHAO: The Success Story of “Differently Abled” Young Entrepreneurs

Abey Khao is not only the name of a restaurant from where you can treat your taste buds with great food, but also the success story of differently abled young entrepreneurs. Their disability was like a driving force that kept them moving towards success. The team tubelight.pk had the privilege of meeting these talented siblings who take their disability as a pride and not as hindrance against progress.

Tell our readers about your background (your siblings, family etc).

Abey khao

We are the family of 5. All the individuals in the family have different level of hearing loss except my sister.  My father is deaf and my mother is hard of hearing.  My eldest brother and I are hard of hearing. My siblings and I feel blessed to have a deaf father. He is the reason we learned sign language at very early age. As a person, he is way better than lots of fathers. Many people ask us that how your father managed to raise three kids and give them the quality education in spite of his disability. We think that our father is a lot more able. Disability is just a tag given by the society.

My father has a small business of tailoring where he mostly hires deaf tailors. Inspired by my father’s business, we decided to start another to create more opportunities for unemployed youth.

Kindly tell our readers about kind of food available and its location.

Abey Khao is a small fast food cafe based in sector I-8/1`Mughal Market, Islamabad.

abey khao

What were the most challenging moments in your business?

Abey KHAO! started merely in the form of a pushcart in July 2016. Together with my siblings, I have taken this initiative to empower deaf and hard of hearing communities because of the unemployment issues faced by them in Pakistan. I want to set an example for other businesses to lose their fear of hiring people with hearing loss.

abey khao

Within 20 days of starting our business we were on the front page of the renowned newspaper. We received a lot of appreciation and good feedback from the public. Unfortunately, we had to close the business due to the restriction imposed by government on push carts. Our business remained closed for almost 6 months but we did not lose hope.  We received a lot of messages from our customers which gave us the courage to reopen the business. We managed to get a small shop for the startup. Though it’s a very hidden place in Islamabad but never knew that the famous news channel like BBC World Service will feature us. It is not the place which makes your startup better it’s the idea.

Abey KHAO! Is not a just a business it’s a mission to break the communication barriers between Hearing and Deaf communities.

What were initial thoughts from your family/peers when you floated your idea?

My eldest brother Sheikh Jawad is the president of Pakistan Youth Federation for Deaf and Hard of Hearing. He has been a social activist for the past 7 years and is aware of all the challenges faced by Deaf and Hard of Hearing Youth. He shared a lot stories of unemployed youth with the us. On the other hand, my sister by profession is a Bioscientist but cooking is her passion from the very young age. I had the firm believe if she is gonna sell the food people will like it. Considering the above facts, the idea popped up in my mind and I named it Abey KHAO!. I shared the idea with my family and I also designed the logo on the very same day. I have the full support from my family from the very first day of the business. They always encouraged and supported me to implement the idea. I started this business with my siblings.

By starting the business at such a young age without any experience, I faced a lot of discouragement by the people for this initiative and they considered it as a failure for not being able to study. I agree that I did not do well in my education but it does not mean that I am a complete failure.

I neither hired any professional chef nor any team member got the professional training which was a great risk but my sister and I designed the menu and train the whole team, who on the other hand, manages to deliver it in the best way possible.

I faced attitudinal barriers at the beginning stage as our stakeholders, mostly vendors, were taking unfair advantage of my disability. I have learned and gained a lot of experience in this short span of time.

Who is your biggest support regarding what you are doing?

For us the biggest support behind the business are our parents. They never discouraged us even when we were not that famous and could not reach the break event. Rather they kept praying for the business and never let any one of us to lose hope.

abey khao

Are you satisfied with what you are doing?

We are more than satisfied for what we are doing. It makes us happy when Deaf and Hard of Hearing youth approach us and send their CVs. Not only that we also received the CVs of hearing people, but the hiring criteria is specifically for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Youth only.

Tell us about your franchise.

Mr. Mobeen Qazi is our very first franchisee. He is operating Abey KHAO’s very first mobile cart where he has given the opportunity to 2 deaf boys. He is also a player of Pakistan Deaf Cricket Team. We are proud to have him in this venture of empowering Deaf youth.

abey khao

What are your future plans?

I wish to create more employment opportunities for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Youth by expanding Abey KHAO! all over Pakistan. It’s not about selling food only rather it’s more about changing the social perspective of communication between Deaf/HOH and Hearing Communities.

Any suggestions to those who also want to start business.

The most important thing before stating a business is to set the vision and goals. One should be confident and passionate about the type of business he/she are starting. You have to have a lot patience to keep the things moving in spite of ups and downs.

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