Are you a disabled entrepreneur? If so, then why not enter the Stelios Award for Disabled Entrepreneurs? Last weekend Co-editor Martyn Sibley was kindly invited to see the launch of this award.
Famous entrepreneur Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, who owns the EasyJet airline and Easy Group ventures, along with his Stelios Philanthropic Foundation, has joined forces with Leonard Cheshire Disability charity to run the Stelios Award for Disabled Entrepreneurs, which launched last weekend.
Having returned safely from my Epic Disability European Roadtrip it was time for me to head back to London and get back to work running and getting involved in projects on disability issues. I was excited to have been invited to the award event and, having never been to something similar before, I began pondering how it might all play out.
Having considered that I might see Sir Stelios speak from a distance and otherwise just network with his staff and potential award applicants, I jumped out of my skin as I reversed out of the lift and almost into Sir Stelios himself; he looks exactly like he does on the TV! He stopped, waited for me to manoeuvre and welcomed my PA and I.
After a nice chat we headed into the room where I met other members of the Stelios Philanthropic Foundation, Easy Group and disabled people looking to apply. Fiona Jarvis from Blue Badge Style told me how her website shares accessible and stylish venues; another lady told me about her jewellery making classes; a guy spoke of running Tae Kwon Do workshops, and another lad in a wheelchair had five digital marketing businesses. Great to see such talent in one room.
Then Sir Stelios spoke to us all about how this award recognises the achievements of (and unique challenges faced by) disabled entrepreneurs. Now in its sixth year, the award offers a £50,000 cash prize to the winner – the largest cash sum of its kind – as well as business support for the three finalists through the Stelios’s Scholar scheme.
Sir Stelios said:
When Leonard Cheshire Disability approached me six years ago I decided I wanted to work with them to reward entrepreneurial talent amongst disabled people.
It’s very difficult to start up a business at the best of times, but over the years our applicants have showed that not only are they able to meet this challenge during a tough economic climate, but they have overcome the barriers they face as disabled entrepreneurs as well. There have been some truly remarkable winners.
With the application deadline next Friday 26th October at 5pm, and the award ceremony held on the 3rd December, there isn’t long. But, having checked the entry form, I can assure you it isn’t so difficult to complete. The main thing is that you have been trading one year, have turned over at least £10,000 and have a disability.
If you fit the criteria I say have a go. Visit the Leonard Cheshire Disability website to apply. You know what they say, if you don’t buy a ticket, you can’t win the raffle. Good luck!
By Martyn Sibley
Do you have a business you think the Disability Horizons readers should know about? We’d love to hear from you, so email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, message us on Facebook, tweet us @DHorizons or leave your comments below.