Work & Education

Sir Stelios pledges more prize money for disabled entrepreneurs

Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, easyJet founder and philanthropist, and disability charity Leonard Cheshire are proud to launch the largest ever financial prize for disabled entrepreneurs through the Stelios Award UK. Read on to find out from Leonard Cheshire how you can enter. 

Prize money totalling £100,000 will be available from this year onwards for the Stelios Award. It will mean that, in addition to the top prize of £30,000 and a finalist prize of £10,000 per disabled entrepreneurs, smaller prizes of £5,000 will also be available.

All applicants will also be considered for The Judge’s Prize, a discretionary prize with a maximum of £10,000 chosen by independent judges. This accolade recognises start-up or running businesses that show exceptional promise, but that do not fit the standard award criteria.

Sir Stelios and Leonard Cheshire CEO Neil Heslop officially opened entries for this year’s expanded Stelios Award at a reception in London (6 June). The event was attended by stars, business leaders, and past Stelios Award winners. This included easyTravelseat inventor Josh Wintersgill and Traveleyes founder and BBC presenter Amar Latif.

Sir Stelios said: “I’ve never ceased to be amazed and impressed by the sheer range and ingenuity of the business ideas we get to see every year. Whether it’s a travel agency for the blind, an app to help people with mental health conditions manage them, or a travel seat to assist the disabled when boarding aircraft, the horizons now often appear limitless.

And that’s how it should be. For too long we have pigeon-holed disabled people as a burden to be carried rather than a human resource to be developed and encouraged as we would any other. Here in the twenty-first century – far too many companies still turn their back on this fact. I think this award shows just what they’re missing.”

Neil Heslop, Chief Executive of Leonard Cheshire, said: “We are thrilled that Sir Stelios has continued his support for this Award, which presents a golden opportunity for disabled entrepreneurs hoping to launch and build their businesses.

Entrepreneurship is a key route to prosperity for many disabled people, particularly given the challenge of the employment landscape.”

Stelios Awards 2019

Jointly run by the Stelios Philanthropic Foundation and disability charity Leonard Cheshire since 2006, the Stelios Award UK recognises the exceptional achievements of disabled entrepreneurs who have set up their own company and excel in their chosen business field.

All forms of entrepreneurship will be eligible to apply, including start-ups, social enterprise or up and running businesses, which are at least 50% owned by disabled people.

Applications are open at until Tuesday 10 September. The overall winner will receive the grand prize of £30,000 at an awards ceremony on 22 October. Four runners up will receive prizes of £10,000 each.

Five independent international judges with lived experience of disability, and the experience of a range of industries or sectors will be announced later in the year to join the judging panel for this year’s awards. 

Stelios Awards UK criteria

  • The award is open to disabled applicants operating in the UK only.
  • The award is open to registered and not-yet-registered companies, charities and social enterprises.
  • To be eligible, a disabled entrepreneur must own at least 50% of the company.
  • The company must be at most seven years old.
  • The applicant must have an active online presence.
  • Past winners and/or applicants are welcome to re-apply.
  • We use the Equality Act 2010 definition of disability, which also includes long-term mental and physical health conditions. If you have any queries about your eligibility, please contact us at

For full details on eligibility and an application form please visit the Stelios Philanthropic Foundation Facebook page or the Leonard Cheshire website. Alternative application formats are available on request at Closing date for applications is 5 pm on 16 September.

By Leonard Cheshire

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