£50,000 is up for grabs as easyJet founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou is calling for talented disabled entrepreneurs to apply for this year’s Stelios Award for Disabled Entrepreneurs in the UK.
The winner of the award, now in its eighth year, will be presented with a £50,000 cash prize – the largest cash sum of its kind – at a special ceremony in London later this year.
The award, jointly run by the Stelios Philanthropic Foundation and the charity Leonard Cheshire Disability, recognises the achievements of disabled entrepreneurs who have overcome challenges to set up their own businesses.
Last year’s winner, James King (pictured above), has invested the £50,000 winning prize into strengthening his business, Oliver James Garden Rooms. He overcame the challenges of having a progressive eye condition, Retinitis Pigmentosa, to set up his garden room extensions firm, and began trading in 2011.
Now with a workforce of seven and a turnover of almost £300,000, James works with homeowners across Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire, Northamptonshire and Hertfordshire.
James said of the benefits to his business: “It’s a huge lift when you think that a successful business tycoon can see a future in your business and believes in you.
“Winning the award has enabled me to employ two new members of staff, create a building manual and put our own bespoke IT systems in place. We’ve designed a more efficient way of working with our customers from initial enquiry to finished Garden Room which will allow us to grow capacity far into the future.”
Sir Stelios says: “I am passionate about encouraging entrepreneurship, and the previous winners of this award offer proof that there are many highly talented disabled entrepreneurs out there.
“Removing the barriers disabled people face in business is essential. I hope the Stelios Award for Disabled Entrepreneurs will change that by highlighting their achievements and contribution to society.
“We want to hear from talented disabled entrepreneurs who are able to show they have got what it takes to run a successful business and meet a real need in the market.”
Clare Pelham, Chief Executive of Leonard Cheshire Disability says: “We are delighted to work with Sir Stelios on an award that celebrates the remarkable achievements of disabled entrepreneurs.
“I know there are many talented and successful disabled entrepreneurs out there. I urge them to take advantage of this unique opportunity for valuable recognition of their business and skills – in cash and publicity – and apply.”
The deadline for applications is Friday 19 September 2014. To apply or download an application form visit www.leonardcheshire.org/stelios or call 020 7112 1489 (choose option 1). Alternative formats are available on request.