the Business Enterprise Program (BEP)?
Business Enterprise Program is a program that allows blind individuals the opportunity to become
a food service or vending operator. This program is administered by the
Idaho Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired. It is similar to a
franchise. Our franchise rules are state and federal rules and
regulations which provide guidelines for administration of the program,
as well as benefits for the operators, that are not found in private
Federal rules under the Department of Education/Rehabilitation Services
Administration can be found at the following link:
State statutes regarding BEP can be found at the following link:
To view the BE Program video regarding please select the following link:
The Business Enterprise Program was made possible through the
Randolph-Sheppard Act enacted in 1936. This federal law provided for first
priority rights for blind people to operate businesses in federal buildings.
Shortly after, all states established a similar law that included state,
county, city, and municipal buildings. These state laws created excellent
employment opportunities for program growth.
The BE Program in Idaho has grown from two locations in
1970 to twenty-two locations in 1998. Most of the expansion occurred
during the 1980's. With the economic growth in Idaho, the future for BEP looks bright.
Originally, the program was established to provide food service or gift shop
type service in public buildings. Idaho, as well as several other states,
has expanded outside the "norm" to include other types of businesses.
The operators are
considered self-employed. The ICBVI does not subsidize these businesses. We
provide the equipment necessary to operate the business and provide the
initial inventory for one week. After that, they are on their own with
on-going supervision available from the ICBVI supervisor of the Business
Benefits for BEP operators include medical
insurance, life insurance, and a retirement plan. The program also provides
the opportunity for continual management growth and further training for all
Transfer and Promotion
The transfer and promotion policy allows an
operator to move from one location to another. This provides an opportunity
for personal, management, and monetary growth.
When a location becomes available, operators are given an
opportunity to bid on the site and interview for the opening. A three-member
panel evaluates each operator on the basis of his/her skills and experience,
and selects the most qualified person for the position. The training and
continuing education provided by the program assists operators in their
When an operator leaves a location, he/she must leave the
equivalent dollar amount of product to cover the cost of his/her initial
The Business Enterprise Program contends that all aspects in
the current curriculum are necessary for any business, not just cafeterias.
The fundamentals of business are the same whether selling a candy bar or a
steak. One has to understand wholesale and retail costs, merchandising and
display, and food cost and portion control.
The Business Enterprise Program believes it is just as important to promote
yourself as it is to promote your business. And, it's just as important to
promote your cafeteria as it is to promote your vending machine business. It
is important to get to know your customer's names, likes, needs, wants, and
dislikes in any business no matter the product or service you are selling.
We do not expect any less skill and attitude from blind
people in our Business Enterprise Program than we expect from a sighted
person in a similar business.
If you or someone you know might
benefit from the services of the ICBVI Business Enterprise Program, contact
Gina Washburn, Business Enterprise
Program Supervisor, at 334-3220 or 1-800-542-8688.
Business Enterprise Program
Business Enterprise Program
Allowable Cost Manual
Business Enterprise Program By-Laws