Ability Connect. Exploring essential entrepreneurial competencies for entrepreneurs with disability. University of Leicester

Dr Mark Esho MBE is the founder of Ability Connect, a social enterprise aimed at supporting disabled entrepreneurs to realise their potential in the world of business.



Starting a business has many challenges to overcome – challenges that are only amplified if you’re disabled. Based on an innovative research programme at the University of Leicester, generously sponsored by Mark Esho and Ability Connect, a first-of-its-kind online training programme has been born.

Unlike other online business training programmes, this training programme has been designed with disabled people in mind and will understand the unique challenges that disabled people face when it comes to business – as well as helping participants to understand how their skills and perspective can be a huge asset to the business world.

Mark Esho

Dr Mark Esho MBE will be teaching the “Resilience” module of the training programme, drawing upon his real-life experiences to help participants to learn grit, perseverance and tenacity in the business world. Mark has defied all odds to become a success – he is a poliovirus survivor who was initially given just a 10% chance of survival after he became paralysed literally overnight.

A prolific businessman, best-selling author and inspirational speaker, since stepping down from the daily management of his businesses, Mark has channelled his efforts into helping disabled entrepreneurs through Ability Connect.

Speaking before the first course began, Mark told us, “I can’t wait to welcome our first intake of aspiring disabled entrepreneurs to this training programme in collaboration with the University of Leicester Business School. My motivation for creating the programme was to offer disabled entrepreneurs something that I wish I had when I started out in business.

“It’s no secret that the disabled community are constantly being overlooked for both career and business opportunities. I believe we are a huge, untapped resource of talent and with the right training and support, there’s no limit to what disabled entrepreneurs can do. This training programme is the first of its kind and I am delighted to have the University of Leicester Business School’s support.”

With a focus on practical knowledge and hands-on experience, the training programme is designed to equip participants with both practical skills and, crucially, the mindset they need to succeed. It covers a range of topics, including Financial Planning, Business Model Creation, Digital and Social Media Marketing, and Resilience for an entrepreneurial mindset.

The programme is open to aspiring disabled entrepreneurs and new disabled entrepreneurs who have been in business for two years or less.

The course had its first outing earlier in 2023 and it is hoped that the next intake can start in October. Visit the Ability Connect website or follow the organiser by clicking this link to find out more and keep informed.