If a thing is worth doing it's worth doing well, aptly sums up all the inexhaustible spirit of Sneha Vedula.
This mom of one spends her weekdays managing Tulip Kids, a successful chain of after-school and pre-school centres that she co-founded with her friend Deepti Mohta, in and around the Bay Area, US. Over the weekends, she is busy volunteering at SiliconAndhra, a non-profit organisation, taking care of its publicity or fund-raising activities or doing community service. She is also one of the brains behind Team Shakti, not to mention her background as an accomplished dancer.
How does this inspiring mompreneur manage to get so much done?
“I am a quintessential hardworking Indian-American woman, who is trying to make most of the opportunities that come my way.” says Vedula.
Born in Odisha in India, she moved to the “land of opportunities” in 1997 after marriage to software engineer Murthy Vedula. “Barely out of College with an undergraduate degree in accounting, I was bundled off to a faraway land. It was a big turning point in my life. My better half’s support and encouragement made the cross-over a cake walk by letting me just BE.”
On Non-Profit Work
In 2001, two years after her son Srinivas was born, Sneha happened to attend a community function at SiliconAndhra, a newly formed non-profit organisation, along with her parents-in-law and ended up performing Jada Kolatam, a folk dance form of Andhra Pradesh, at the group’s cultural event. This performance brought her closer to the overseas Telugu community. Sneha felt a sense of belonging which beautifully filled the void, and she started getting involved with the SiliconAndhra by way of volunteering and community service. So one thing led to another, and soon she became an indispensable part of the organisation Today she is the Global Director of cultural festivals for SiliconAndhra Manabadi, world’s largest non-profit Telugu Language School, which boasts of more than 6,500 students. The school’s Telugu language curriculum was approved by the Fremont Unified School District (FUSD) Board of Education, as a world language to be offered as ‘for credit’ course in its high schools.
She says, “Now students in Grades 9-12 attending any of the FUSD’s high schools will be able to enrol in a Telugu class offered by SiliconAndhra ManaBadi and earn high school credits.”
But keeping in mind her hectic schedule, how difficult is to spend time with family?
"My husband and son are omnipresent in my life. My son Srinivas is truly a rockstar. Murthy is my best friend, philosopher and guide and the reason of my being. He has never bothered to ask questions, or seek answers from me, ever,” says Vedula, adding, “Had it not been for his constant motivation and unflinching support, I would not have thought of enrolling for Masters in Human Resources Management and Psychology at Golden Gate University, San Francisco, in 2006. This degree was a stepping stone in my career in more than one way.”
Founding Tulip Kids
Explaining the shift from being an HR Executive in 2007 to moving on to set-up a chain of playschools and afterschools in the Bay Area, Sneha says, “The shift was gradual, but the impact has been quite noteworthy.”
Recounting her association with Mohta, her partner, and co-founder of Tulip Kids, she says, “Deepti was running an established daycare in the Bay Area, but she was exploring bigger opportunities in the field of education and something specific for school age children and that’s when I came into the picture. I decided to partner with her in 2009. We started on a humble note and today we have five centres of our own and five franchise centres spread in and around Sunnyvale, Fremont, Santa Clara, Dublin, San Jose and Almaden Valley.”
On her passion for Dancing
A dance enthusiast, she has choreographed several dance shows and folk ballets at cultural events in the Bay Area. But the high point, of course, was being part of Zee TV’s Dance India Dance: Supermoms show when she was one among the lucky 70 semi-finalists, who were selected from 6,000 candidates in New Jersey auditions. She was one of the 12 finalists who got a chance to perform on DID stage in Mumbai in December 2014. “It was a wonderful feeling to be on the stage and swinging to Govinda numbers but the best part was being in India, my motherland. An unforgettable experience truly.”
Making a difference
Veering our conversation towards Team Shakti that she set up with eight other women, she says, “It was born as a creative collaboration to celebrate womanhood by giving a platform to women of all hues, ages, community, and background, to perform and showcase their talents, share experiences and exult in each other’s achievements.
Vedula says, “It is a women’s only idea, of the women, by the women, for the women, and men don’t have the rights of admission here.”
“It aims to provide funding and support to women-based non-profit organizations. In the last four years of its existence, the organisation has reached out to many charitable projects in the US and India and has contributed to breast cancer research, supported mentally challenged girls, fought against human trafficking and domestic violence and funding build lab-in-a-box kits for underprivileged school children in India,” says Vedula.
Brimming with excitement over Team Shakti's fifth-anniversary celebration, she says “That’s quite a milestone."
This year around, the celebrations will be held on May 7, 2016, and the proceeds will go to Aarti Homes in Kadapa, Andhra Pradesh, a shelter for abandoned young girls.
“Aarti not only provides shelter and schooling for abandoned girls but also provides training and livelihood and awareness programmes so that women have the economic and emotional independence to make their choices. Aarti works to restore this cycle of life between mother and girl-child. It ensures that women are empowered to make choices in their lives,” she explains.
“It is our small contribution to support a cause for the betterment of womenfolk and make a difference in their lives,” she says.
Editor's note :
This inspiring Mompreneur story comes to you from Shillpi A. Singh, a journalist-turned-corporate communications professional. She has more than 10 years' experience in journalism and two years of experience in corporate communications with the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD). Shillpi is a stay-at-home mother of two lovely kids, part-time content editor at PaGalGuY.com, and freelance content manager for Radio Dwarka, India's first online community radio and a ‘wannabe’ freelance writer who wants to write to explore the devilry of her idle mind.
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