In spite of their hardships, those who are physically or mentally challenged serve as an inspiration and an example that “Anyone can do anything”. Recently, there has been much buzz about how entrepreneurs are changing the world, but little about how differently-abled entrepreneurs are changing perceptions. There is a saying that says ‘Disability is just a matter of perception.’ If you believe in yourself, then nothing can stop you.
Would you believe that Walt Disney, the founder of the Disney Company, suffered from dyslexia growing up? Incredibly, a disabled individual became a cultural icon of the country and is still remembered today. The example I gave above illustrates how some people have changed the mindset of those who are afraid to dream big. Our special needs entrepreneurs can be found here awe-inspiring others with their business success stories.
Top 12 specially-abled entrepreneurs who are inspiring the world
Sharath M Gayakwad
|Occupation||Founder of Gamatics|
|Awards||Arjuna Award for Para-Swimming|
Sharath M. Gayakwad is the first Indian swimmer to qualify for the London 2012 Summer Paralympics. From adoring his sport to winning record-breaking medals for his nation, he has come a long way. In 2014, he became the first Indian to win six medals in a multidisciplinary sports competition, breaking P.T. Usha’s record. Since his swimming career began, he has achieved 39 international medals and 55 national medals, turning his biggest weakness into his biggest strength.
With a modest socioeconomic background, he began mentoring children in November 2014 by founding a company called “Gamatics.” The startup focuses on providing high-performance practises and pieces of equipment for swimming at a very affordable rate, unlike the marketplace. Sharath wishes to impart to his students the strategies, abilities, and challenges he encountered while competing. In addition, the venture lists nutritionists and physiotherapists to give sportsmen the finest of everything.
|Occupation||Founder of SoboConnect|
|Current occupation||Assistant Special Educator|
|Award||Outstanding person with epilepsy|
A 19-year-old girl was diagnosed with epilepsy in the first year of college and left her studies behind to focus on treating her epilepsy. During recuperation, she met patients from various states, age groups, and financial backgrounds, and each one had a story to tell. Eventually, she started volunteering after realizing that everyone goes through something, and epilepsy happened to her. She began collecting funds through social networking in 2009, which helped defray her treatment costs and covered other epilepsy patients’ costs as well. In the year that followed, she became a member of the Indian Epilepsy Association to help many people going through similar issues.
In India, nearly 12 million people are victims of epilepsy. Still, one is there to provide employment opportunities to them, so she wants to earn independently as well as give jobs to epileptic people. She did her research on people working in a building with office space of matchbox size, and therefore, wanted to create a space for conferences or meetings that could be rented whenever needed and be budget-friendly. That’s when she started SoboConnect, establishing a 15-seater rent-by-day workspace to replace her father’s old warehouse that looks like an arbitration hall with projectors so that the meeting can be conducted effectively.
|Occupation||Co-founder Maa Ulaa bike taxi company|
The Maa Ulaa bike taxi company in India’s capital is the first service operated by people with disabilities, inspired and designed by Mohammed Gaddafi, who lost his legs at 19 years of age. Gaddafi derived the business idea from an amputated leg person, parking his government-provided tricycle and begging on a Chennai beach. When Gaddafi asked “Why?”, his response was “How can we lead better lives just because the government has provided bikes?”. Thus, Gaddafi decided to break ground by starting up a journey with the differently abled with his best friend Balaji. As a result, he intends to use the bicycles provided by the government of Tamil Nadu for disabled people for a good cause.
|Occupation||Founder of Aditi’s Corner|
There is no denying that individuals with down syndrome are changing the face of entertainment. One of them is Aditi Verma. Aditi’s mother learned that she had bronchitis in this manner when she was only 2 years and 6 months old and needed open-heart surgery. She became interested in cooking while attending a special education school, and at age 25 she launched her own cafe. Aditi’s Corner was the name of the cafe she opened, which she operated in addition to serving customers coffee and pastries. She received the Entrepreneur beyond Challenge Award from the Rotary Club of Mumbai in 2017, and despite having both physical and mental impairments, she went on to become a great achiever.
|Occupation||Founder of Specialcare Holidays|
Simon George, a 52-year-old engineering graduate from Kerala, has been paralyzed below the waist for more than 30 years. The wheelchair-bound man nevertheless founded SpecialCare Holidays in 2018, the country’s first travel company for people with impairments. The Kochi-based company provides excursions for those with disabilities, the elderly, the ill, and others who need extra care while on vacation. It provides services like lodging, contemporary tools, motorized wheelchairs, wheelchair-accessible transportation, knowledgeable tour guides, medical experts, nursing assistants, and sign language interpreters. Because of Simon’s efforts, the Kerala tourism administration has agreed to include “accessible tourism” as a specific service within its “responsible tourism” policy.
|Occupation||In charge of Guna’s Quilling|
|Location||Chinnalapatti in Tamil Nadu|
|Awards||District and State awards|
Gunavathy Chandrasekharan was primarily just one and a half years old when she was given the polio diagnosis. She lost much of the function in her legs and is presently unable to walk more than 20 feet without assistance. She is in charge of Guna’s Quilling, a company she founded in 2013. She uses the quilling process, in which paper strips are rolled, shaped, and glued to produce beautiful motifs, to create crafts. She sells her handmade products, which she and four other women helped produce, at markets across India and earns roughly Rs 80,000 from a single market. Gunavathy has won district and state awards in the art & craft category. To encourage Tamil Nadu children to strive for the things they are immensely passionate about, she often visits schools and institutions there.
|Occupation||Founder of VOSAP|
|Awards||NRI community award in Los Angeles, Corporate award|
Pranav Desai, an Ahmedabad native, was four years old when he was diagnosed with polio, which left both of his legs paralyzed and required braces and a cane for him to move. Through the Voice of Specially Abled People, his organization, he decided to use his personal and professional expertise to empower those who are differently abled (VoSAP). In 2015, while working for the global conglomerate NTT Data, Pranav, an engineer, and MBA graduate, founded VoSAP. Thru openness, knowledge, and occupation, the international advocacy group—which has more than 3,000 volunteers—seeks to empower persons with disabilities.
|Occupation||CEO Of ALIQAN Technologies|
Iftkhar Ali, an IIM Calcutta graduate, was given a polio diagnosis when he was just a year old. He is an Agra native who created the Delhi-based ALIQAN Technologies software and web development company. Before starting ALIQAN Technologies in 2015, he worked as a management consultant for HCL, TCS, and IMS India. He had also served as IMS India’s center operations head. A few of ALIQAN Technologies’ clients include HCL, Wipro, the Indian Air Force, the Shiv Nadar Foundation, Allizhealth, The Football Link, and Allizhealth. Iftikhar wants to expand operations in the services sector, launch two more product companies, and go into the educational sector.
|Occupation||Co-founder of Raw Nature Company|
Despite having Symbrachydactyly, a congenital disease involving limb abnormalities, Sangita has been a prosperous fashion designer for 25 years. While studying English literature at Sophia College, she fell in love with fashion, and in 1989 she enrolled in the American College of London to pursue a fashion degree. Sangita, who was born without any fingers, created outfits for the Vareli ad campaign for Aishwarya Rai in addition to working for Manpreet Brar, who qualified India for the Miss Universe competition, and Shweta Menon, Ms. Asia Pacific. However, in 2006, the Mumbai rains wrecked her studio, which led to a setback for her. Sangita joined her father’s essential oil company and sought to expand it significantly, refusing to let nature stand in the way of her ambition. The knowledge she acquired allowed her to launch the Raw Nature Company in Mumbai, which provides a variety of natural plant personal care products for both men and women. Her products are cruelty-free, vegan, and devoid of any synthetic dyes, fragrances, or other potentially harmful ingredients. Amazon, Flipkart, Nykaa, and other important offline retail firms are now selling Sangita’s items.
|Occupation||Founder of Antarnaad|
|Established In||January 2015|
Shailesh Sheth, a mobility-impaired investor, founded the Antarnaad venture with the assistance of his group of physically disabled people and other young people. Prior to this, he worked for 15 years in the finance and commercial sectors. As part of the initiative, all types of disabled people must obtain training in economic empowerment. The Ahmedabad-based nonprofit supports people in Gujarat and the surrounding areas who have similar physical constraints in achieving their potential and living the lives they want.
The idea of entrepreneurship is currently the one that is most frequently discussed and pushed in the country as a way to address financial difficulties. Specially abled persons have demonstrated that their dreams and aspirations are unaffected by what others think or say about them. Even a disability can be overcome. And it is because of their talent and labor that have shaped who they are today.