A LEICESTER-based businessman has launched a new charity to provide funding, business support and time to disabled people who want to start their own businesses.
Mark Esho has been disabled for the majority of his life, after contracting polio at the age of five and being given a 10 per cent chance of survival. However he is still here defied all the odds to become the successful businessman he is today, even gaining an MBE earlier this year.
His new charity venture, ‘The Circle Foundation’ is set to launch on Monday (February 14), and aims to give back to the UK disabled community and give them the support that Mark feels he never received when he started his career in business.
“I think the issue is that there’s a massive credibility gap when it comes to disabled people actually running their business,” he told the Leicester Times.
“People’s perceptions are a problem. Sometimes people see because that person’s got a business, that business might be disabled and flawed at the same time, so it’s a big problem for disabled people at the moment.
“At the moment, there’s a lot of talk about diversity inclusion, it’s all about race, it’s all about religion and LGBTQ issues, but there’s very little about disability,”he added.
“But disabled people are actually the biggest minority when you think about it.
“I see disabled people as an untapped resource. When I first started in business, I didn’t get any support and I wasn’t taken seriously. As such, my first business failed and I was left unable to pay my mortgage payments whilst trying to support my young family.”
However, after overcoming many challenges in his life, Mark has gone on to become a best selling author, motivational speaker and the founder of several successful businesses including web hosting company Easy Internet Solutions.
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.
“The Circle Foundation is all about giving back to the disabled community – and just like a circle is infinite, with no end, there is no end to what disabled people can achieve when we are given the right opportunities,” said Mr Esho.
“There are some stats out, which show that only 15 per cent of disabled entrepreneurs have got a support network, and what we’re doing is quite unique,” he added.
“We’re giving up to £50,000 in cash and we’re also giving business support, but most importantly time, which is why I’m only looking to work with one person this year.
“I’m going to be devoting a lot of time into that person to help them grow their business, and it needs to be a person who we think has got a realistic chance of making the business a success.
“I’m passionate about creating better opportunities for disabled people like me and seeing how, with the right help and support, they too can achieve amazing things and make their business dreams a reality.”
The idea for The Circle Foundation came to Mark whilst he was helping a friend to launch a disability accessibility company. In just two years, the professional and personal changes he’s seen in his friend have been astronomical.
At the time, he was struggling to come to terms with his disability which was making him depressed. The work he has done with Mark during this time has had a huge impact on his mental health and he’s now the owner of a thriving business. It was through his successes that Mark decided he’d like to set up a foundation to help others.
As well as cash, the package includes full personal support from Mark and the Circle Team – a dynamic pool of business, web development, finance, and creative professionals, all dedicated to helping their entrepreneur to realise their potential.
“I like to see myself as someone that people can look to and say “if he’s done it, then I can do it as well,” despite all the challenges as a black, disabled person,” Mr Esho revealed.
“So if I can do it and also set up my business without any money either, i think most people with the right attitude, the right mindset and support can also do it as well.
“The only failure in life is not trying.”
To find out more about The Circle Foundation, visit: http://www.thecirclefoundation.org.uk/