I wonder why Kolkatta’s famous newspaper The Telegraph chose to call him “The Idli Boy”. But they did give him, deservedly, a front page story.

Sarathababu Elumalai’ s story is one of the most inspiring I have heard. Born to a poor family in Chennai, he said of his childhood: “I was born in a family of five children in Chennai and my mother worked with the government’s mid-day meal schemes. The money was not sufficient to sustain the large family, so she set up a small idli shop near our home in one of the slum areas of Chennai.”

Despite many hardships, he went on to complete his engineering from one of India’s most prestigious colleges – the Birla Institute of Science & Technology at Pilani. “I had never heard of the institution as we never got such an exposure. Someone told me that if I study there I will get a job,” he said.

After 3 years of work experience, he did his MBA from what is without doubt India’s best business school- the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad.

Not accepting many job offers that could have come his way, he chose to start his own business. FoodKing Catering Services.

The business, which started with a mere Rs 5,000 and a small kiosk at Ahmedabad, has today spread to 6 branches employing over 175 people whose only job is to supply nutritious home-made food to corporates.

“It was an idea that I chanced upon during my internship at Pilani when I learnt that 30 per cent of the country’s population go to bed without food,” he said. “More than working for somebody I wanted to give jobs to people like me, who did not have other means of livelihood.”

To me, his is an amazing story of grit, commitment to principles and dedication. Sarath’s story is aptly described in Chennaionline as: The Stuff Dreams Are Made Of.