Fareham man takes first place in the Stelios Awards for Disabled Entrepreneurs

A Fareham man who was born with spina bifida has been awarded the first prize in the Stelios Awards for Disabled Entrepreneurs which is £30,000.

By Sophie Lewis
Thursday, 16th June 2022, 2:56 pm
Updated Thursday, 16th June 2022, 2:56 pm

Joe Waggott, 52, started out 14 years ago with only £35 to his name after fleeing Rhodesia, which is now Zimbabwe, due to political turmoil in 2005.

He now owns a successful global business that offers metal polishing supplies and has a turnover of £350,000 and he even has clients as big as former Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich who wanted a metal polishing kit for his yacht.

He impressed the judges so much that he won against 51 other disabled entrepreneurs who were all gunning for the first prize.

Joe Waggott

Joe said: ‘It is a great accolade and a great opportunity to develop the business.’

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The competition, which is run by EasyJet founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou’s Philanthropic Foundation in conjunction with Leonard Cheshire, recognises people with disabilities that run their own business and the prize money is to be used to invest in the business.

The entrepreneur is going to use the money to increase the marketing, PR and produce 'how to’ videos for his consumers. He also wants to start up his own range of power tools.

Joe Waggott

Joe’s condition means that he is only partially mobile, so when he needs bed rest, he continues to work from his bed.

The entrepreneur said: ‘As well as developing my business further I want to champion disabled people in business and I hope to offer mentoring to those who are looking to start up their own companies.’

This is the first time in three years that the competition has taken place due to the pandemic, but since it launched in 2007, over £1.2m prize money has been handed over to winners.

Sir Stelios said: ‘I am delighted that we have found three very worthy winners who have proven that the best way for a disabled person to earn a good living is to start their own business.’

Leonard Cheshire chief executive Ruth Owen said: ‘There were really strong entries this year, with a huge amount of talent out there. It’s brilliant to see such fantastic businesses from disabled entrepreneurs, showing what we’ve known for a long time.’