Business Enterprise Program
Under the Randolph Sheppard Act, federal and state laws give priority to blind individuals to operate and manage food, vending, and other services in federal and state government office buildings and properties.
The Business Enterprise Program (BEP) makes awards to qualified blind business people for food service operations in these buildings, plus some privately owned facilities. Currently, these facilities consist of large cafeterias, small cafeterias, military dining halls, snack bars, convenience stores, micro-markets, vending machine routes, rest area maintenance, and commercial janitorial services.
BEP purchases the initial inventory, supplies and equipment at these food service locations, as prescribed by federal law. Outside of state-provided resources, the blind operators (business managers) have sole interest in these business operations. Subsequent inventory and supplies are replenished at their own expense, and blind operators are responsible for all management functions. These functions include hiring, paying personnel, paying all business and employment taxes, and paying insurance and any other related withholding. At the end of a given business cycle, the blind business manager enjoys a profit or suffers a loss. BEP receives a franchise-like fee from the blind operators for their participation in this program.
Division of Vocational Rehabilitation counselors throughout the state make the initial referrals of interested candidates to the Business Enterprise Program. The eligible and accepted student enters into a two-week comprehensive evaluation in the Personal Adjustment Training Program and the Vocational Evaluation Program. Here the student is given vocational evaluation tests to determine aptitude toward business. The student's personal skills as a blind individual are also evaluated, and if needed, further instruction is given to the student.
Upon successful completion of Personal Adjustment Training, BEP candidates are advanced to BEP training which includes assessment of food service aptitude, classroom training and hands-on training at BEP sites throughout the state.
Training is approximately 6 to 18 months, however, the training curriculum and time is individualized to the student. When the student graduates from the training program, he or she becomes certified to be a manager of a BEP food service location with the ability to bid on open locations in Colorado and become licensed blind operators after a satisfactory probationary period.
The Colorado Business Enterprise Program is the leader in training in the Nation and committed to providing a standardized program.
To get started, contact a local Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Office.