Business Enterprise Program FAQs

Who is eligible for BEP?

To be eligible for the Business Enterprise Program (BEP) Training Program, a candidate must:

  • Be a legally blind U.S. Citizen
  • Have an aptitude for business management
  • Receive a referral from a Department of Services for the Blind counselor
  • Have practical skills and meet legal criteria for operating a business supported by federal law

What can BEP do for me?

If you qualify and have a desire to become an entrepreneur in the food service industry, we can provide:

  • Required training to become a BEP licensee for operating and managing a food-service facility.
  • The essential pieces of food service equipment and small wares for each BEP facility.
  • Assistance to the new operator in opening up the facility.
  • Ongoing management assistance and guidance.

What does it mean to become a BEP licensee?

A licensee of the program can apply for the program’s facilities as they become available. A selection panel decides to award a licensee out of the applicants for that opportunity.

Once a licensee receives the awarded location, they, as a small business entrepreneur becomes solely responsible for the success of the business.

How many BEP Locations operate in Washington State?

Currently, BEP participants operate 20 snack/gift shops, espresso stands, delis and cafeterias with combined annual sales of about $7,000,000. Olympia, WA has the largest concentration of locations.

Where does BEP training occur?

BEP training is a combination of online courses through the Hadley Institute and on-the-job experience. The online classes are self-paced and can be completed at home. Applicants receive hands-on experiences in any of the BEP facilities in Seattle, Tacoma, or Olympia, WA, depending on what the trainee needs to learn and whether the trainee can get to the location using local public transit.

When does training begin and how long does it take?

Once the participant has been approved as a qualified applicant, they will participate in a two-week on-site assessment in an active BEP facility. They will work full time in order to experience how a BEP facility operates and what may be expected of them as a business owner. BEP staff and the BEP facility operator will evaluate the participant in various areas that are vital in training and in future success as a business owner. If the assessment is successful, the applicant can then start proceed with the online courses. Since these are self-paced, they can be completed in anywhere from a few months to a year. After successful completion of the online training, the applicant will then start the on-the-job portion, which will run 8-10 weeks. The applicant will become a BEP Licensee after successfully completing all training steps and will be able to bid on BEP locations as they become available.

Does BEP provide relocation assistance to move for training and subsequent employment?

BEP does not provide any relocation assistance for training or subsequent employment. This issue may be brought up with the participant’s DSB counselor.

What past skills or education would make me a good candidate for referral to BEP?

A past work history in food service operation especially with managerial experience; past small business experience as an owner; managerial expertise in any career field; strong leadership skills; good money management skills; and a willingness to work long hours and invest yourself in your business.

What courses and/or training would you recommend to better prepare for the BEP Training Program?

  • Computer classes in Microsoft Excel, Word and Outlook
  • Business Management, especially Personnel Management
  • Practical mathematics and Business Accounting
  • Writing and Speech courses

What equipment/supplies do trainees need prior to starting the BEP training program?

Individuals must have passed and received a Food Handler card from their local county Health Department. Additionally, participants must have a computer, printer, scanner, tape recorder, talking calculator, and suitable clothing for working in a food service operation.

If I complete the BEP Training Program, will there be a location for me to begin my business?

No guarantee exists that there will be a BEP site available for a trainee after they have completed the BEP Training Program. In most cases, a licensee must be willing to move to where the BEP opportunities exist.