Abu Dhabi: United Arab Emirates (UAE) based Indian ex-patriate Ayesha Khan provides low-cost meals to blue-collar workers in the country at just 3 Dirhams (Rs 60).
A 45-year-old engineer, Khan is the founder of the cheapest food ATM in the UAE. Khan delivers three-course meals to 2,600 blue-collar workers daily in Dubai, Sharjah and Ajman. Ayesha says she can get a day’s supply for just 9 dirhams (Rs 181). Her team consists of 17 employees.
Food-ATM was launched in March 2019, where usually, a worker pays 5 dirhams in the UAE for a thick ‘roti’ (Indian bread), ‘dal’ or chicken. But Ayesha’s packed meal includes a box of biryani, a cup of yoghurt, some pickles and a small cup of dessert – all for just 3 dirhams.
Eight different menus are prepared every day to suit the tastes of Indian, Nepali and other South Asian workers. She does not want to limit her venture to any one nationality and the food can be availed even at 2 or 3 in the morning.
Khan’s menu also includes seven desserts for seven days—custard, rice pudding, sweet semolina, wheat pudding, cooked noodles in coconut powder milk and more.
How it all she started
Ayesha previously worked for a government entity in Dubai and Ajman before giving it up for her cause.
During her career as a professional, she shared her food with a few workers in her office, “One day, a worker came up to me and showed me a picture of his child attending school. He said that thanks to my help, he was able to save money on food and send it home for his child’s education. I felt very humbled and emotional. That got me thinking about how shallow our lives are sometimes. We only think along material terms and work for ourselves, but how many of us make that extra effort to do something for others?,” Gulf News reported, quoting Ayesha.
This made her quit her job with the Dubai government. The initial investment for setting up the business was quite daunting for her from getting a commercial license, arranging the facilities, paying salaries to the staff and other concerns. Ayesha however, sold her house in India to pay for the venture and never looked back.