Little people, big challenges

Brought to the brink of shutdown by the pandemic, Hobbit Cafe, which employs people with dwarfism, is now turning towards crowdfunding to support its staffers
Karthik Sagiraju with the staffers of Hobbit Cafe
Karthik Sagiraju with the staffers of Hobbit Cafe

BENGALURU : The pandemic has had many devastating effects on businesses. The latest to be nearing shutdown is Hobbit Cafe, the city’s first dwarfism-themed cafe. Not wanting to give up so soon, Karthik Sagiraju, the owner of the cafe, has turned towards crowdfunding to keep the venture afloat.

The cafe was a hit among its visitors, not just for the food but also for the cause it supported. But during the lockdown they had to remain shut for more than six months, which brought in huge losses for the business. Sagiraju did manage to pay the staff around 40-50 per cent of their salaries to help them but over the past few months, it has been difficult to continue the same. 

Fearing a total shutdown of the cafe, Sagiraju started an online fundraiser on Milaap, a fundraising platform, with a target to raise `20 lakh to help the cafe, which has over 40 staff members. Each member comes with their own story of struggle. Take, for example, 23-year-old Rajshekhar, one of the staffers, who hails from a village in Anantapur.

Along with dwarfism, Rajshekhar also has a partial hearing impairment. After being promised a job in Bengaluru by different agencies, Rajshekhar got a chance to work at the cafe.  “It took ages for us all to give them the respect they deserve.

We have shown the world that they belong to it as much as we do. It’s time for us all to come together again in giving these little people their wings back. This crowdfunding campaign is our last hope to keep Hobbit Cafe alive and continue supporting people with dwarfism,”  says Sagiraju, who started this cafe in 2019, when he saw the discrimination that most people with the condition faced.

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The New Indian Express