WHAT IS “THE BEP”?
Since 1937, the NJ Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired’s Business Enterprise Program (BEP) has empowered legally blind individuals to become independent business operators and entrepreneurs. The BEP, established by the federal Randolph-Sheppard Act of 1936, makes it possible for the operators to demonstrate that being blind does not mean that someone is unable to earn a living.
Each day, thousands of customers are competently served at the various BEP facilities currently open across the State of New Jersey. These business operations include vending machine locations, newspaper stands, snack bars and full service cafeterias that are all managed by individuals who are legally blind.
To participate in the BEP you must be legally blind, at least 18 years of age, a legal resident of the of the U.S. and State of NJ, and have earned a high school diploma or GED. Individuals who do not meet these requirements are not eligible for the program.
Training classes for BEP participants are conducted at the Joseph Kohn Training Center, as well as at the cafeteria located within the Talking Book & Braille Center. BEP participants receive training in the operation of cafeterias, vending stands, snack bars and vending machine locations with the goal of them becoming a licensed food service professional. Sanitation, safety, merchandising, record keeping, managing cash flow, and customer service are all important components of the very comprehensive classroom and hands-on operational instruction that is required for earning a BEP license.
Are You Ready to Get Started in BEP?
Contact your Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor, who will discuss the basic BEP requirements to help you assess if this is the right option for your employment future. If you meet the minimum qualifications, your VR Counselor will schedule a meeting with a BEP Representative who will explain the program in detail, including training and licensure requirements, types of facilities, realistic timetables for placement and advancement, and potential income levels.
Building Partnerships and Creating Opportunities:
The Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired is seeking to form Partnerships for Prosperity in communities all over New Jersey to expand the Business Enterprise Program by establishing new locations where trained and licensed operators will have the opportunity to become gainfully employed.
The Benefits of Having a BEP Location in Your Facility:
• Customers enjoy convenience and good service at reasonable prices;
• Individuals who are blind are able to be self-sufficient, tax paying entrepreneurs by managing their own business; and
• Communities receive important messages on valuing diversity and the abilities of people once thought of as handicapped.
INDEPENDENCE: Believe and Achieve!
The Business Enterprise Program is a true example of the Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired’s commitment to the creation and expansion of employment opportunities for people living in New Jersey who are blind!
You are invited to observe this very successful program in action. We will be happy to arrange for a visit to any of our facilities located all over the state.
For further information, please call the BEP office: 609-584-4905