The greater the difficulty, the greater the glory.
– Marcus Tullius Cicero
Srikanth Bolla, a blind by birth, did never let even the utmost difficulty to come in his way to success. Facing several rejections in his life owing to the most misfortunate imparity, Bolla went on to complete his college and founded his firm, Bollant Industries.
Srikanth was born in Seetharamapuram of Andhra Pradesh to a family of farmers. Even from the very start of it, life was tough for him as he was born without vision and that too in a low-income family. His disability continued to be an excuse for discrimination. However, his parents supported him to as much as they could, despite living in abject poverty. Later, in the school too, Bolla was neglected. Nothing could check Srikanth’s passion, and he proved to be an excellent student, passing his matriculation with flying colors. Bolla wanted to take up Science in the higher secondary. But the dictates Education Board did not allow him to study his choice of stream. The authorities refused to grant him the permission on the basis that Arts was the only stream for the blinds. However, Srikanth was not ready to accept such an orthodox explanation for denying him admission in Science. Consequently, he moved the court to consider the matter. At last, after six months, the Board gave in to Srikanth’s plea, and he got admission in Science. Srikanth’s decision to pick up Science proved monumental as his secured star marks in Class 12. His persistence and intelligence eventually earned him an opportunity to work for Lead India Project, a movement to empower the youth through value-based education, with former President Late APJ Abdul Kalam.
Srikanth in MIT
After completing his higher secondary education, Srikanth decided to pursue Engineering at the esteemed IIT. But, here too things were not easy for him. Again, he faced discrimination and was denied the admission.
Unwilling to give up, Srikanth started looking for admission in foreign institutions. Surprisingly, he was selected for admission in some top schools of the US, like MIT and Stanford. Srikanth preferred Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Interestingly enough, Bolla was the first international blind student of MIT.
Standing for a cause
On the completion of his graduation from MIT, Srikanth decided to return to India. By that time, Bolla was convinced that he wanted to do something to fight the discriminations against blinds. Giving up shining career in the United States, he came back to his homeland and founded a non-profit organization named “Samanvai”. The unit aimed to offer need-based and goal-oriented support services to students with many disabilities. Bolla started a Braille printing press that was to supply tutorials for such students.
Setting up an Enterprise
Bolla’s next step was to counter the problem of employability of the disabled learners. With this objective in his mind, Srikanth set up his firm, Bollant Industries Pvt. Ltd. The company aims at providing career opportunities to the physically challenged. The company is specialized in manufacturing recyclable stuff such as Areca leaf plates, dinnerware, betel plates, and other disposable utensils.
Srikanth’s impressing business vision caught the attention of many investors like Ravi Mantha, Srini Raju, and Satish Reddy of Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories. Even, Ratan Tata got interested in the venture and invested an unrevealed amount. Now, the firm employs hundreds of disabled individuals. By the time, the company has evolved too, opening other four production units, one in Karnataka and other three in Telangana. Bollant co. has shown tremendous growth, averaging around 20% a month from its beginning, and making millions of sales.
Srikanth – A Blind with a Vision
As for the future, Srikanth has an idea of establishing a sustainable corporation with a labor force comprising more than two-third staffs with disabilities. Bolla has struggled much in his endeavor to change the general perceptions about the potentials of the differently abled ones. His efforts have indeed shown a good sign as his support organization “Samanvai” has managed to guide and nurture more than 3,000 students and still continues to provide for more.
Srikanth – Inspiring the nation
From being a blind to becoming an entrepreneur, Bolla has suffered all and survived through every odds. It was never easy for him to operate in the world where people with eyes have the upper hand. Wherever he went, he found it hard, be it his school in India or the college in the US. But he made it, at last, showing the world that even the sightless people can do what they want to and can success in it too. However, his personal achievement was not enough for him. After fighting all his life, Bolla knew the difficulties experienced by an eyeless aspirant. In his zeal to empower the disabled students, Bolla even left the shining career in America and returned here to work for them. Once denied admission in the institutions of his country, Srikanth Bolla is now making it proud by his achievements. In 2017, Bolla was one of only three Indians to feature in the Forbes magazine’s list of 30 under 30 in Asia.