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TCCIMA Taps on Special-Needs Talent for Raad Call Center
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TCCIMA Taps on Special-Needs Talent for Raad Call Center

It is said that life is a series of commas and not full stops; that’s the spirit behind the men and women running the Raad call center in Tehran, who don’t let their physical disabilities stand in the way.
At a ceremony on Monday, Tehran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture—the country’s biggest private-sector assembly—officially launched its 1866 Call Center “to provide instant guide to businesspeople and investors from across the country.”
Looking for qualified people, TCCIMA looked no further than those recommended by Raad al-Ghadir Organization—a charity that works to employ persons with disabilities. The chamber considers its choice of employees as part of its corporate social responsibility but at the same time proudly declares that it is economically and mutually beneficial, and “way more than what can be expected from any professional PR team” to promote its business.
“The idea of launching a call center was around for some time and we wanted to hire a committed workforce,” said TCCIMA’s head Masoud Khansari at the inauguration ceremony.  Noting that “social responsibility” was the main impetus behind their decision to outsource physically challenged people, Khansari said the decision was well worth, both from a professional and economic standpoint. TCCIMA’s promotional bulletin for the launch of the call center also supports hiring the differently abled by drawing attention to the fact that they are less likely to find employment because of their disabilities.
“We hope other organizations and enterprises will follow suit and tap into these talents that usually tend to get the short shrift,” Khansari said.
Meanwhile, another TCCIMA board member proposed that the appellation “disabled” should be dropped while referring to them.

  Disability-Friendly Workplace
The call center based in Raad al-Ghadir Organization which provides a disability-friendly workplace, offers professional advice to business people who possess a commercial card and are facing technical or legal problems. The center also provides guidance for people wanting a commercial card and, therefore, a license to export or import goods and services.
Currently, there are eight IT and business experts at the call center but soon it will be increased to 15, says Mona Ghassemzadeh, the center manager who insists that the place she runs is not a charity but rather a “profitable’’ enterprise through which  big companies can achieve results.
The center has conducted successful marketing campaigns and customer satisfaction surveys for various companies and businesses as part of its Customer Relationship Management (CRM) services in the past. Employees received several weeks of training followed by a five-month trial period. All have university education and some even advanced degrees in law, accounting, IT, etc. It has now gone from taking 200 calls a day to an average of 700 calls with a duration of 3-4 minutes.  
They have also been subject to strict assessment by TCCIMA board members. In one case, Khansari himself called as an anonymous caller, trying to grill one of the employees but could not find a single flaw in the 25-year-old, Minoo Akbari. “Later she told me that she likes her job and has been trying to do her best.”

  Grass-Roots Collaboration
All of this marks grass-roots collaboration of an independent organization, whose main mission is to reach out to the less fortunate who like others want to move on and also make a social contribution.
Founded in the year 2000, the charity now receives some 120 people with disabilities each semester, and teaches them “how to fish” rather than offering freebies.
Its founder, Ali Soltanzadeh, a vibrant man in his seventies, told me that half the revenues of the center are self-generated and 25% comes from people’s donations. The rest is provided by the State Welfare Organization.  Soltanzadeh has also helped found 15 other similar institutions in other towns and cities.
According to Masoumeh Farahani, Raad’s public relations manager, their main tool of recruitment lies in the strong networking that exists among the physically challenged themselves. “They are more than willing to contribute and don’t miss any news related to them; nevertheless we try to inform them through other means as well.”
If society has ever told these people that they can’t do it, Raad is a place where their belief that they can do, is celebrated and reinforced. 

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