Atlanta/ Retail & Industry
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Published on April 18, 2024
Atlanta's Synergies Work Spotlights Disabled Entrepreneurs' Creativity at EDDIE AwardsSource: Unsplash/ Josh Appel

At the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, five innovative businesses owned by entrepreneurs with disabilities were spotlighted by Synergies Work, an Atlanta nonprofit, during the second annual EDDIE Awards. This year's honorees included a range of companies from a dating app specifically catered to disabled and chronically ill individuals to a travel agency that specializes in adventures for wheelchair users.

During the festivities, attendees were treated to a performance by Malik Wilson, a blind artist and rapper with the moniker Question ATL. "It’s very inspiring to be here and see so many people with different disabilities and diversity displaying competence and confidence," Wilson told WABE. CDC statistics indicate that in Georgia alone, more than 2 million people live with a disability, with the national figure reaching approximately 61 million.

Entrepreneurs with disabilities often face heightened barriers to success, including a higher likelihood of living in poverty as per the National Disability Institute. For individuals like Wilson, entrepreneurship isn't just about personal gain, but also about contributing positively to the community. "Synergies Work has been very inspirational to me," he explained, recognizing the organization's role in facilitating a support network and mentorship among disabled entrepreneurs.

"We wanted to honor the entrepreneurs; we wanted to show the community how much talent exists in the disability space, and how easy it is for us to overlook people because of our ableist point of view," Synergies Work founder Aarthi Saghal shared with WABE. Saghal's organization which is based in Atlanta, fosters a familial network of disabled innovators, looking to turn their entrepreneurial dreams into tangible successes.

The nonprofit recently received a significant boost, a $100,000 grant from Care Source, earmarked for funding its burgeoning network of entrepreneurs. "Aarthi has given us a platform we would not have had," said Lamont McLeod, owner of Agape Family Health Care Services. Saghal committed that the funds will be put toward providing loans to disability-led businesses, aiming to bridge the gap in access to financial resources. The initiative underscores the organization's core mission to unite the disability and business communities through much-needed fiscal support and networking opportunities.