A Leeds Trinity University Media student has been awarded a grant of £4,500 to develop her business, which aims to help people living with a visual impairment and their carers.
Zahra Majid, who is visually impaired, was awarded the UnLtd Do-It Award to set up her business VIAdvisor; an online hub of information on products, services and venues for the visually impaired.
Zahra said: "I am so pleased. Going through the process and being awarded the grant is one of my greatest achievements by far. There were three stages to the application process, and I was thrilled but nervous when I was invited to give a five minute presentation to a panel of assessors. All the hard work was worth it. Getting the award has given me a real boost, and helped me to believe in myself. It's been a really positive experience and I'm looking forward to working with UnLtd to develop my business."
Zahra came up with the idea for her business after taking part in an Escape Room challenge at Leeds Trinity University. She wanted to ensure interactive real-life escape games were accessible for everyone, including people with disabilities. She wrote an article about her experiences in disability magazine All Together Now and was also interviewed on BBC Asian Network.
Shortly after, she was awarded a grant from the Leeds Trinity Enterprise Centre, which she used to carry out research at a conference in Birmingham. Zahra said: "Not everything is accessible to people with a disability and people are often excluded. I wanted to help people with a visual impairment to access products, services and venues. At the conference in Birmingham I discovered a distinct gap in the market. My business idea went from there really."
With the support of Leeds Trinity lecturers and the Enterprise Centre, Zahra developed her business idea and applied for the Do-It Award. She said: "I have faced many challenges through my educational journey, but I'm really grateful to the staff at Leeds Trinity for all their contributions to help with the success of this award. Living with a visual impairment is not easy. There are always obstacles but you just have to do your best and overcome them. It's easier when you know that people are on your side."
Liz Cable, Senior Lecturer in Digital and Social Media at Leeds Trinity University, said: "Zahra is an exceptional student, with bags of courage and determination. When she came up with this idea for her business, it was clear her horizon had changed and broadened. Zahra has spent her life making opportunities for herself, and her new business is about creating those opportunities for others. I am delighted that her dedication and optimism has been rewarded, and know she will use the award wisely to underpin her business. She really deserves this recognition."
Zahra is meeting with UnLtd in January to develop a strategy for her business for the next 18 months. This will include developing a website and carrying out research, before launching the business in the summer.