Business Enterprise Program
Self-Employment for Legally Blind Individuals
Looking for a job in self-employment? Have you ever managed your own business or worked in a restaurant or cafeteria?
The Business Enterprise Program (BEP) works to broaden economic opportunities for blind residents of Maine by creating snack bars, cafeterias and vending machine facilities on state, federal and municipal properties. Under this law, legally blind individuals are given the priority to operate “vending facilities” on federal property. The type of products served maybe very simple: coffee, snacks, newspapers and sundries, or it can be a full menu offered in a cafeteria/café.
As independent self-employed managers, these individuals are responsible for providing quality service, and quality products in a clean and comfortable atmosphere. BEP trainees receive instruction in all aspects of food service management. They bring to the job the necessary skills to sustain successful self-employment. Located statewide from Limestone to Kittery, facilities include both full-time and seasonal operations.
The goals of the Business Enterprise Program are two-fold: first, to provide employment opportunities for persons who are blind, and second, to provide the highest level of quality food, courteous service, and reasonable value to customers.
The BEP, through its self-employed managers, currently provides employment for over 40 additional persons, many of them people with disabilities. The Business Enterprise Program is now big business nationally. Today there are more than 2800 blind business managers nationwide in 49 states and three U.S. territories.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Does the BEP/ Division for the Blind & Visually Impaired subsidize the managers?
No. These individuals are self employed and do not receive subsidies.
How is the pricing of products determined?
The managers take into consideration, cost of product, cost of labor and fair market pricing to determine the price of their products to consumers.
What are the operating hours of a BEP site?
Typically, a snack bar/café is open from 7 am to 2 pm Monday-Friday.
How do I join the program?
An individual must be currently working with a Vocational Rehabilitation counselor. The counselor refers the person to the BEP to begin a comprehensive evaluation and training program.
For more information regarding Maine's Business Enterprise Program, contact:
The Division for the Blind and Visually Impaired
(207) 215-4986 or (207) 623-7964
150 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333-0150