The competition, now in its fifth year, recognises the achievements and unique challenges faced by disabled entrepreneurs. It is run by entrepreneur Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, the Stelios Philanthropic Foundation and the charity Leonard Cheshire Disability.The three shortlisted disabled entrepreneurs are Ben Wolfenden, Rob Smith and Huw Thomas, who are competing for a £50,000 prize. Ben Wolfenden, 28, who has cystic fibrosis, runs Equestrian Outfitters, an online retailer of equestrian products. Rob Smith, 36, who suffered a spinal cord injury after falling 40 feet down a cliff, is the founder of the Active Hands Company, which sells a gripping aide to allow disabled people to firmly hold a wide variety of items. Huw Thomas, 64, who has muscular dystrophy and uses a wheelchair, runs Promove UK, a company that designs, manufactures and supplies specialist slings to rescue, evacuate and transfer sick, injured, disabled or incapacitated people. Commenting on the finalists, Sir Stelios says: “I would like to congratulate them for reaching the shortlist of this year’s award, and I’m truly impressed by their entrepreneurial passion and dedication. “With around 50 per cent of disabled adults out of work, removing the barriers disabled people face in business is essential. Self employment is often the only viable option for many disabled people as it offers flexibility and helps bypass much of the prejudice that, sadly, still exists.” The winner will be announced at a special awards ceremony in London on December 14.
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