Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Worth Trust, Part II

After visiting the Chennai operation of Worth Trust, Viji and I journeyed to Katpadi, the town where Worth Trust is headquartered. Around the town are quite a number of Worth Trust enterprises.
Factory sign: Worth Mobility Aids
One of the enterprises we stopped by made the hand-tricycles I saw all over the region.
Man using handcrank to power a tricycle
For a person without high functioning legs, a wheelchair is not that practical in the community. Instead, there were a lot of tricycles with the crank mounted where it can be turned by hand.
New tricycle in plant
Worth Trust makes and sells these accessible tricycles.
Blind woman chatting with Viji Dilip
Another part of the operations turns out to be the assembly arm of the famous Perkins Brailler: a manual Braille typewriter still in wide use. Viji stopped to chat with one of the women on the assembly line.
machinist at his machine

Most of the employees of Worth Trust are people with disabilities. We met many of the employees, including deaf workers, blind workers and workers with physical disabilities. The guy pictured above is a blind machinist.
Jim Fruchterman in a powered wheelchair
I also got to try out a powered wheelchair prototype. It was fun!

The most impressive aspect of my visit was the professionalism and pride that came through. We got an extensive tour of their plastics fab plant, which has achieved ISO 9003 certification, which qualifies them for many big subcontracts. I was another example of how highly successful social enterprises typically succeed by doing a great job on price and quality: many (most?) customers don't care about the social mission. But, if you can employ disabled people and do a terrific job, what a powerful message that sends to society, which believe disabled people aren't capable.

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