Family Support Division, Rehabilitation Services for the Blind
Business Enterprise Program
Management opportunities in established businesses are available in state and federal buildings. Entrepreneurs welcome!
BEP offers legally blind persons an opportunity to be a small business manager in a location complete with equipment, inventory, and a small interest free loan to get started. Each qualified applicant must complete training to earn a state license. After licensure, each person is eligible to apply for appropriate management opportunities.
There are over 40 facilities statewide. Many provide above average incomes for managers with good business sense and excellent customer-service skills.
Under the direction of the Missouri Department of Social Services' Family Support Division (FSD), the Randolph-Sheppard Program is administered by Rehabilitation Services for the Blind’s Business Enterprise Program (BEP). Lion’s Business Opportunities for Missouri Blind, Inc., a private, not-for-profit corporation, acts as an agent for Family Support Division in the provision of management services and fund administration.
The Randolph-Sheppard Act, signed into law June 30, 1936 by President Franklin Roosevelt, mandates that priority be given to legally blind individuals in the operation of vending facilities existing or to be developed on federally owned, leased, or occupied property. Since 1981, Missouri statutes have, with limitations, afforded like preference in State buildings.
It is the goal of the BEP to assist blind persons to achieve success as self-employed business persons. To this end, the BEP:
- Develops business sites in public or private buildings, such as municipal, state and federal buildings, colleges, or industrial locations. The business may be developed as a vending area, convenience store, vending route, snack bar, or a full-service cafeteria.
- Assists in the design, lay-out, and set-up of new or existing facilities by selecting decor, purchasing and placing equipment, providing initial inventory, and developing operating procedures.
- Provides comprehensive training to prepare blind and visually impaired individuals to succeed as self-employed and self-supporting business persons.
- Licenses trained graduates to manage vending machine banks, convenience stores, vending routes, snack bars or cafeterias.
- Monitors and works closely with managers to determine business effectiveness in service, profitability, design, and efficiency and provides input for improvement of the business operation.
The blind vendor managing a Level I vending facility will spend several hours each day at the vending site. He/she will oversee state-of-the-art machines vending food, snack items and beverages. He/she will keep the machines and seating areas clean. This manager will possess good interpersonal skills in order to maintain a mutually beneficial working relationship with suppliers and building management and to provide desired services to building employees at a reasonable price. He/she will serve the building population by making refunds and handling customer complaints.
A Level II license qualifies the manager to operate a convenience store, or a manager-filled vending route. The conveniences store sells prepackaged sandwiches, snacks, greeting cards, novelties, newspapers, lottery tickets, etc., but with no on-site food preparation. This manager may also have vending machines (either sub-contracted or manager-filled). Other services such as film development and coin-operated copy machines may be provided in conjunction with the store. The vending route manager will service machines in multiple locations providing beverages, snacks, and refrigerated or frozen foods.
Managers do their own buying, stocking, pricing, merchandising and selling. The manager is also responsible for preparing weekly operating reports and, if the business is large enough, for the hiring, training and supervision of employees.
A Level III license qualifies a manager to operate a snack bar, offering packaged snacks, chips, candies, sandwiches, salads, hot dogs, drinks, etc. with limited on-site food preparation. The snack bar manager is responsible for product purchasing, pricing, storage and display. Level III facilities will also require hiring, training and supervision of employees.
A Level IV license qualifies a food service manager to operate more complex, full-service cafeterias and to provide catering services. A Level IV manager is responsible for total facility operation, including purchasing, storage, merchandising, sanitation, record keeping and reporting, menu planning and rotation, costing and pricing, as well as hiring, training and supervising multiple employees.
All candidates for Level II, III or IV licenses must have successfully passed the National Restaurant Association (NRA) Servsafe Food Sanitation Course. Applicants are interviewed, tested and given work-site evaluations before acceptance for training.
Manager training consists of classroom instruction and on-the-job monitored training at better managed BEP facilities. Level II training requires 16 weeks; Level III training requires requires 18 weeks; and Level IV training requires 26 weeks.
Small training classes afford each candidate attention as needed to provide the skills necessary for success at each business level. Upon graduation from BEP training, each trainee receives certification and is eligible for facility management. As the manager’s skills continue to develop through experience, he becomes qualified to assume management of the larger, more complex facilities at his level of licensure.
If you are interested in the services offered by the Business Enterprise Program, please call Toll Free: 1-800-592-6004, or send Email to email@example.com