Inaugural Eddie Awards celebrates disabled entrepreneurs

The ceremony was held last week at the City Springs Center in Sandy Springs.

By Allison Joyner

Last week, local nonprofit Synergies Work honored business owners with disabilities during the first-ever EDDIE Awards.

Short for “entrepreneurs dedicated to diverse, inclusive excellence,” the EDDIE Awards celebrate innovative and ambitious business owners with disabilities making a difference in their communities. 

“The EDDIE Awards is a celebration of who we are at the core — bringing disabled entrepreneurs and helping them with whatever business objectives they have,” said Aarti Sanghal the founder of Synergies Work. 

Inspired by her younger son, Angad who has a disability, Synergies Work helps entrepreneurs with disabilities reach their full potential by providing resources to help them grow their businesses. 

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“When you think of disabilities, we are always thinking of something that needs to be fixed,” Sahgal said, “As a mother [of someone with a disability] and a person who works in this field, [I see it as] a celebration. Because why not?”

According to the Small Business Administration, there are 33 million small businesses in the U.S.  The National Disability Institute says almost two million are owned by people with disabilities. 

The EDDIE Awards showcase those disabled entrepreneurs and celebrate their accomplishments as successful business owners. 

After receiving almost one hundred nominations in its first year, the EDDIE Awards selected 15 finalists in several categories pertaining to technology, new startups and community-based businesses.

“The idea of celebrating disabled entrepreneurs is needed right now,” said Dom Kelly, founder of New Disabled South and Social Impact Award winner. “We need more joy in the disability community and more celebration.”

Dom Kelly won the Social Impact Award at the Eddie Awards 2023. (Image provided by Synergies Work.)

Kelly, who is diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy, created New Disabled South as a way of building a coalition of disability justice activists to advocate for organizations in the Southern U.S.

“We have five-person staff, all with disabilities serving 14 states and bringing disabled leaders across sectors to look at the issues our community faces,” Kelly said.  “[We] work together to figure out solutions and fight for systemic change.”  

In addition to giving financial support, Sanghal wants to encourage Atlantans to become mentors to disabled entrepreneurs and give them your talent, treasures and time to help them succeed. 

“I think people with disabilities want to be acknowledged and want to be valued and remember that we exist and also say that the word ‘disability’ is not bad,” Kelly said. 

Click here to learn more about the other EDDIE award winners. 

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