BY JYOTHSNA HEGDE
Atlanta, GA: A twenty-something married woman of two kids gazed into the sky as a flight flew over the fields she was working in. Earning 5 Rs per day, toiling in the fields of Andhra Pradesh under the scotching sun did not stop this woman from dreaming on getting on the flight someday. This is was back in the late 80s. Today, the woman, Anil Jyothi Reddy, is CEO and founder of Keys Software Solutions, a company with a $ 5 million turnover. Jyothi Reddy was not pushed by her problems, but led by her dreams.
Anil Jyothi Reddy’s journey began at Narasimhula Gudem in Hanumakonda mandal, Warangal, where she was born into Mr. Venkat Reddy and Mrs. Saraswathamma’s family, engulfed in dire economic situations. Having returned from Army services early, Jyothi’s dad had also lost his job as a teacher. Second in a family of five children, Jyothi was admitted into Balasadan, a government orphanage, as a motherless child, where she completed 10th Standard with flying colors. Jyothi’s empathy towards the impoverished and her ardor and penchant for charity perhaps originates from her own experiences at the orphanage. Today, Jyothi supports various causes including Prajadharana Orphan’s Home in Zaffarghad,Warangal District, Sc Women Welfare Social Services Kama Reddy ,Nizamabad, V’care Street Children’s Home, Kukatpally,Hyderabad, MEAN home for Mentally Retarded kids in Tharanaka,Hyderbad, SPACE Blind School ..Hanam Konda,,Warangal District, Mallikamba Mentally Challenged Kids in Hanam Konda..Warangal District., Sai Trust in Hanam Konda,Warangal District, MEAN Society for Old age Women and Men in Halwal Hyderbad, Rainbow Street Children’s home in Hyderabad etc.
“When I was in the 10th grade, I watched a movie “Sita Kokka Chilaka” Jyothi fondly remembers. An intense love story, the movie had triggered dreams of a happily ever after life in the 15-year-old’s innocent mind. But fate had chosen a different path. Married at 16 to Sammi Redyy Dudipala, Jyothi was a mother of two girls, Bina and Bindu by age 18. She worked as a laborer in the fields of Mailaram, until a twist of fate landed her a job at the Nehru Yuvak Kendra (NYK) at Rs. 150 per month, where she was recruited to provide basic education to villagers. Very early on, Jyothi’s leadership qualities shined through as she was declared Mandal Prerak of Hanumakonda, in recognition of her initiative and dedication. Raring to go, Jyothi was determined to continue her education.
Working during the day did not suffice her family needs. She had to take care of two young daughters. Jyothi decided to burn the midnight lamp, by stitching petticoats, earning 1 Rupee per petticoat. Jyothi learnt typing as she studied for a postgraduate degree from the Dr B.R. Ambedkar Open University on weekends. She obtained a BA from Kakatiya Open University at Warangal obtaininggovernment special teacher’s job, earning Rs 398 a month. Time was money for this resolute woman, so she used the two hour train travel time to school, selling saris. “At first my sister’s landlord who sold saris did not agree, but I requested and convinced her until she relented.” Jyothi recalls. Jyothi also recalls a senior teacher who marked her absent just for being a few minutes late owing to her BUS travel. No shrinking violet, Jyothi says she bought a TVS Champ, arrived much before the school time and marked him absent!
Things started to look brighter as her job stabilized and she starting making money in the thousands. A testament to changing times, Jyothi enrolled both her daughters into the affluent St. Joseph’s school, she only dreamed of being part of, during her orphanage days.
Working as an Inspector of Schools could have seemed like the pinnacle of her success, given where Jyothi started from. But she was hungry for more. Sometime during 1998 a relative’s visit from the US catalyzed her thoughts. She believed she could provide a better life to her daughters if she could also work in the US. Once her mind was set, there was no looking back. The beckoning of the Promised Land demanded more sacrifices and undeterred steps towards unknown horizons. Jyothi enrolled herself into computer classes and started saving for passport, visa, tickets and travel expenses to the US. After initial failures in obtaining Visa to the US, Jyothi finally convinced her friend’s brother Srikanth to sponsor her visitor visa. It was approved. She had to leave her daughters and family behind in India order to pursue to US dreams.
No one had arrived at the airport to meet and greet Jyothi. She then heard a telugu conversation and requested those folks to guide her in making a phone call. She called her friend’s brother and got herself a Soda for a dollar from the vending machine, as she waited. She had learnt this by observing someone else. She soon realized that she could not bank on any relatives for food or shelter and was on her own. “Movie Time” video shop in New Jersey came to her rescue. She worked there as a salesperson and stayed at a Gujarati family as a paying guest. An acquaintance form India, who knew her as a teacher back in India recognized her at the shop. While she was not too keen in reciprocating his enthusiasm , it proved to be a turning point in her life as he recommended her to” CSAmerica”, where she was trained and employed as a recruiter. Jyothi recalls learning English by reading the Bible that was available to her. She practiced sentences she would commonly use in conversation with company reps every night. Soon another company “ICSA” recognized her potential and made an offer with higher salary. However, owing to Visa issues she could not continue there and took up any job that came her way, be it babysitting, or cleaning motels or working at gas stations. Fortune does favor the brave and the best was yet to come.
Meanwhile Jyothi had developed marketing skills and the nitty-gritties involved in running a company. A family from Denver made her a partnership offer, which she took up only to realize later that they were not ready to commit on paper. Disappointed, never defeated, Jyothi moved to Phoenix. In 2001, Jyothi made a trip to Mexico to get her H1 papers stamped. “That was a turning point in my life, August 29, 2001” Jyothi says. Longing to meet her daughters, Jyothi booked her ticket to India. Already having toyed with the idea of opening her company, Jyothi was encouraged further when a priest fueled her belief. Jyothi returned more charged to start her own company and laid her maiden step into the business world on October 26th 2001. Notwithstanding initial downtime, Jyothi surged ahead with added support as her cousin Anjal Reddy joined her as a partner. She had her kids and husband over to visit her in 2003. Since then Jyothi has never looked back. Both her daughters, Bina and Bindu are married and live in the US. Jyothi is also a proud grandmother to, as she affectionately calls him, “Sid”.
Today, Keys Software Solutions has sponsored over 120 H1 Visa, with about 43 employees and boasts of a 5 million dollar turnover. Jyothi aspires to share her success with the less fortunate and also inspire women and youngsters. “ I have reached out to many Colleges to motivate youth, approximately 50.000 Children in 5 Districts in AP. I have conducted various Women Programs in rural areas to motivate them and strengthen them financially and face the hurdles.” Jyothi says. She has also featured in about20 TV programs for motivation. Times Now Channel traced her story from Phoenix all the way back to her village where she worked as an Agricultural laborer.
Those of you inspired by Jyothi Reddy’s incredible journey may want to check out her biography “Aina Nenu Vodipoledhu”. Jyothi Reddy is expected to be recognized with Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan Award sometime this year.
Anil Jyothi Reddy personifies Winston Churchill’s quote “Success is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm”. Jyothi is quite cognizant about the struggles and tussles that eventually led to her success and she is more than willing to share and inspire anyone who is willing to try. She supports various causes and is willing to dedicate her life, trying to empower women and youth, especially in rural areas where opportunities are few. She reserves a special place in her heart for kids who grow up in orphanages. “She is a complete mother” her daughter proudly declares. An indomitable spirit, Anil Jyothi has embraced all roles in her life daughter, wife, mother, grandmother and entrepreneur, successfully. “Every problem has a solution, you must find the strength to face them” she opines and truly has lived by this principle. Here’s wishing this tenacious, triumphant entrepreneur and philanthropist the very best in all her endeavors.