The Business Enterprise Program (BEP) provides support for self-employment opportunities in the food service industry for Mississippians who are legally blind. These BEP entrepreneurs operate a variety of businesses including vending machine routes, snack bars and cafeterias on military bases.
Persons who are legally blind (having not more than 20/200 central vision acuity in the better eye with correcting lenses or a loss of 80% of their visual field), are U.S. citizens, and who have been certified by the State vocational rehabilitation agency as qualified to operate a vending facility are eligible to be BEP (Randolph-Sheppard) vendors.
Prospective BEP vendors receive training in several different subject areas including: Introduction to the Business Enterprise Program, personal care, business math, business management and record keeping, customer relations and salesmanship, inventory control, display (marketing), housekeeping skills, ServSafe, supervisory relations, and menu planning. The client is given the opportunity to demonstrate skill mastery though tests at the end of each training module. After successfully completing the classroom training, clients are placed with blind vendors in established BEP facilities to receive on-the-job training. In addition to the BEP classroom and on-the-job training, BEP counselors may refer current and prospective BEP vendors to a district counselor for upward mobility training in the area in which the vendor has expressed interest.
Recommendations for placement and promotion are made by an elected peer committee known at the Committee of Blind Vendors (COBV). When a BEP facility becomes available, the BEP director issues a two-week notice to VRB counselors, BEP vendors, the State office, and members of the blind community who have expressed interest in BEP. The COBV then reviews the applicants and makes a recommendation to the VRB Director for approval.
For further information contact:
Business Enterprise Program
1281 Highway 51
Madison, MS 39110
Phone: (601) 853-5280
To request services, click here.