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Inaugural EDDIE Awards spotlights entrepreneurs living with disabilities

Organizers hope to inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs to come forward and spark a conversation that will allow more doors to open for the community.

ATLANTA — The first-ever awards ceremony highlighting business owners living with disabilities is coming to Atlanta, and nominations are open now. 

The nonprofit Synergies Work recently announced its inaugural EDDIE Awards, which will celebrate and recognize entrepreneurs across the country living with disabilities. 

Since the start of the organization in 2016, Synergies Work has helped over 200 entrepreneurs with disabilities launch over 70 businesses, and now the organization believes it is time to shine a light on these communities doing the work.  

According to the National Disability Institute, 62.5% of people living with disabilities are outside of the labor force, therefore making self-employment an important option for their community. However, the founder and CEO of Synergies Work, Aarti Sahgal told 11Alive that the disability community is still not a part of the conversations when it comes to inclusion in the business world. 

“I realized that when we talk about inclusion, that what is on paper and what happens in reality are two different things. There's virtually, actually two worlds that exist among us. One for people with disabilities and one for people without disabilities,” Sahgal said. 

She hopes the launch of the EDDIE Awards will inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs to come forward and spark a conversation that will allow more doors to open for the community. 

“They are the innovators, they're the creators, they are the entrepreneurs who are doing some incredible work. And yet they are not being recognized and honored and celebrated like virtually everybody else in the entrepreneurial ecosystem,” she said. “We are hoping through these awards, all organizations, all companies, all individuals who are having these conversations show that this huge population, which is that the most diverse and the largest minority group in the country, is part of that conversation."

The EDDIE Awards will take place in March 2023. The ceremony will award entrepreneurs in five different categories including Entrepreneur of the Year, Creativity Award, Newcomer Award, Social Impact Award and Techprenuer Award. 

Nominations for these categories are open from now until Jan. 6, and starting on Jan. 9, the ceremony will also begin taking nominations for The People’s Favorite Award.

Nominations can be made on the Synergies Work website

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