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The Circle Foundation for disabled entrepreneurs

23 February 2022

In this blog, Mark Esho MBE, shares his experience of being a disabled businessperson and launches a unique initiative to support other disabled people in starting their own business.

For a while now, I’ve been planning something exciting. A passion that was fuelled by my own personal experience of starting a business and the lack of support available as a disabled entrepreneur. Launching a start-up venture as a disabled person can be a real challenge (according to Small Business Britain d:Entrepreneur, 46% of disabled founders say that a lack of confidence is a significant barrier to success) and I want to use my experience to help others.

Setting up a business is hard. Setting up a business when you’re disabled is even more difficult. There are so many barriers to entry, beyond just prejudice towards disabled people.  There is not equal access to support, funding and knowledge – and it’s not just about money – imagine organising a business meeting and not knowing if you’ll physically be able to get through the door.

My recent work with Rich Copson and Access Rating is living proof of the great things that can be achieved if we have the right guidance, support, and network around us.  It all started with a chat at a local sports game, where we discovered our shared passion to improve accessibility for disabled people in the UK and provide SEN (special educational needs) students with work placements.  And so Access Rating CIC was born. I co-founded the business with Rich, and it has been an absolute pleasure to watch him grow as a person, develop his skills and confidence and be a part of his journey to success.  You can watch a video about Rich here.

Inspired by my personal experience as a disabled entrepreneur and my work with Rich and Access Rating, my new project, The Circle Foundation, will help one budding disabled entrepreneur per year to fulfil their dream and continue to support others in the years to follow.

Helping the Few to Inspire the Many

The aim of The Circle Foundation is to empower disabled entrepreneurs with a ‘circle’ of support, building their skills and confidence to make their business a reality.  You could call it Dragons’ Den meets The Apprentice! The concept is simple.  Each year, we accept one budding entrepreneur on to our programme, providing up to £50,000 of cash and in-kind business assistance over the course of one year. The package includes full personal support from myself and the Circle Team – a dynamic pool of business, web development, finance, and creative professionals, all dedicated to helping our entrepreneur realise their potential. This will be replicated in the years to come, as we plan to help more disabled entrepreneurs on their road to success.

Commonly, business support is diluted to reach as many people as possible, and many start-ups can fail to thrive as a result.  The Circle Foundation takes a different approach. We wrap around one entrepreneur with a fully comprehensive programme to support them through the challenges that disabled people typically face, towards a positive outcome.  Our belief is that each disabled entrepreneur we help can share their story of success and be a true source of inspiration to others who wish to make that same remarkable journey.

What about you?

If you are a disabled person with a dream of making it in business, get in touch. You may doubt your ability, you may feel disillusioned by the lack of support, or you may just need a push to help you get started. All you need is a great idea and the passion, drive and determination to succeed. Details of how to apply are below, please feel free to share this with someone you feel it may help.

Who Can Apply?

To apply for this programme you must:

  • Be registered disabled.
  • Have a business idea and a rough outline for the purpose of the application process
  • Be ready to commit all your time and energy to your business concept.

The application process is easy. Simply contact us by filling in the form on our website and let us know of any communication support needs you may have and preferred formats for information. We will then be in touch to discuss your idea further.

Good luck!

Mark Esho MBE

Director Easy Internet Services; Easy Internet Solutions; Dreme

IoD Midlands Director of the Year 2020 (Highly Commended)

IoD Director of the Year 2019