Mississippi State Policies & Resources
Mississippi Department of Rehabilitation Services (MDRS)
Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR)
Office of Vocational Rehabilitation for the Blind (OVRB):
The Mississippi Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) and the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation for the Blind (OVRB) offers consultation services, technical assistance and potential funding for approved self-employment or Business Projects. These Business Projects must be consistent with the individual’s strengths, interests, concerns, priorities, resources and based on informed choice. The OVR/OVRB Counselor first determines that self-employment is an achievable goal for the individual. This could include an assessment of the individual’s intellectual functioning as well as both math and reading skills. The Counselor also ensures that the client understands that they will be responsible for personally contributing to their business venture.
To help the client gather information or to obtain guidance and assistance outside OVR/OVRB, the Counselor accompanies the client to an appropriate consultant such as a small business center, business planner or related field, such as a Certified Public Accountant. Other sources such as the Entrepreneurs Tool Kit developed by the Mississippi Development Authority (MDA) may be used to provide additional guidance and information.
The client then submits a formal business plan or an initial proposal to the Counselor. The Counselor assembles a Self-Employment team comprised of the Counselor, client, district manager, state office Business Project Coordinator, Small Business Administration representative and other professionals as appropriate to review and approve or disapprove the proposal.
If the proposal is not approved, written recommendations are given so the client may revise and re-submit.
Three levels of funding are available to support an approved business plan. Other sources are required to fund the percentage of costs not covered by OVR/OVRB:
|Funding Needed as Noted in Business Proposal||VRB Funding||Level of Approval|
|Up to $5000.00||90%||Counselor|
|Over $10,000.00||50%||Executive Director or Designee|
OVR/OVRB can only fund the initial startup costs such as initial stock, merchandise, or operating supplies for a two-month inventory. Likewise rent, phone, deposit, insurance, and advertisements can be paid only for a two-month period. No OVR/OVRB funds may be used to purchase land, permanent buildings or motorized vehicles or the insurance on such vehicles.
It is an expectation that the Counselor and client will remain in close contact during the initial phase of the venture. For example, the Counselor will meet with the client monthly to ensure a positive resolution if any problems have been identified. Similarly, the client will maintain daily records of the business including daily sales, purchases, and other records as requested by the Counselor.
In addition to the requirements for typical MDRS Case Closures (services provided contributed to success, most integrated setting possible, and 90-day time period) Case Closure for Business Projects involve a pre-closure meeting with the client, Counselor, District Manager and, when feasible, other professionals who were involved during the planning. If the profits of the business are determined to be adequate and no immediate problems are foreseen, the case may be closed.
The following downloadable PDF contains statewide self-employment resources and links for people with disabilities.