Srikant Bolla was considered as a “useless” baby as he was born blind by villagers of Seetharamapuram of Machalipuram in Andhra Pradesh. This 23-year-old, blind boy currently runs an organisation which manufactures eco-friendly, disposable consumer packaging solutions, worth Rs. 50 crores.
Srikant is an industrialist who set up the Bollant Industries in Hyderabad. He is also the first international blind student to study Business in the prestigious Massuchettes Institute of Technology. Ironically the same blind student was denied to be coached for studying in Indian Institute of Technology at one point of time. But Bolla is an inspiration, not only to differently-abled people but also to all the youngsters who think negative about their life.
Life is not a bed of Roses
Born in a poor family of a farmer in rural India, Srikanth was born blind. His uneducated parent uses to earn a little around ₹1700 a month. His parents raised him with love and affection in spite of being advice to disown the visually impaired child.
Srikanth was sent to study in the village school where he was bullied, not allowed to play and was pushed to the last bench. The school didn’t have any sort of inclusive educational system. That’s when his father took him to a special needs school in Hyderabad. Here he was grown as the kindness he was shown. He learnt to play chess and cricket and topped in them. He outperformed his class, even got on an opportunity to work with late President Dr APJ Abdul Kalam in the Lead India project. But in a society like ours, none of this mattered. In class XI, Srikanth was denied admission in the science stream even though he scored 90% in the Andhra Pradesh class X state board exams. The board argument was that a blind boy could only take Arts subjects after that.
Fortune favours the brave
Having faced rejection, Srikanth decided to fight against injustice. He sued the government. And after fighting for six months he got a government order that he could take the science subjects but at his ‘own risk’. For Srikanth it was not ‘risking’ anything to chance, he did whatever he could to prove everybody wrong. The blind young boy got all the textbooks converted to audiobooks, worked day and night to finish the course. Lastly, he successfully managed to secure 98 per cent in his XII board exams.
He applied for top engineering colleges like IIT, BITS Pilani, but did not get a hall ticket a she was blind. He did his homework searching the Internet to find the best engineering programme for blind students. He applied to schools in the United States and got calls from the top four colleges. He got admitted into MIT along with a scholarship. He became the first international blind student in the school’s history.
Coming back to his Roots
Srikanth completed his course. He got many offers from reputed international business houses but he refused. He gave up the ‘golden’ opportunity of working in corporate America and came back to India. Bolla set up a support service platform to rebuild, nurture and combine differently-abled people in society. He helped about 3000 students in attaining education and vocational courses. Srikanth also thought about their employment. That’s when the idea of setting up a company came to his mind.
Many people including Ratan Tata and Angel investor Ravi, who met Srikanth were impressed with Srikanth’s business understanding and concept for his company. They not only mentored him but also invested in Bolla’s company. At that time the company was having a small, tin-roof shack in an industrial area near Hyderabad. But Today, Srikanth has four production plants having a turnover of 150 crores in 2018. He now employs hundreds of differently-abled people.
The boy who was born blind is now showing many the way to real success. Bolla was named by Forbes magazine in its list of 30 under 30 across all of Asia in the year 2017. He has won many awards and accolades over the time including young entrepreneur award.