Vermont State Policies
Vermont Disabilities, Ageing and Independent Living
Division for the Blind and Visually Impaired (DVBI):
The first step of the Vermont Division for the Blind and Visually Impaired (DBVI) self-employment process is an assessment to determine the feasibility of the business as well as attributes of the individual. While not required, the DBVI counselor will encourage the individual to complete two internal assessments: “Evaluation of Readiness/Feasibility Plan” and “Personal Financial Information”.
Individuals may receive assistance from a business consultant- typically from community resources, e.g., Economic Development and Small Business Development Centers- to conduct additional research. Other resources maybe introduced i.e., SCORE, National Federation of Independent Businesses, local banks, etc. The data gathered will inform the individual and counselor as to whether to move forward with the self-employment venture or look at other employment options.
Once the counselor and individual agree that the business is feasible, a comprehensive business plan is developed. Financing need and sources are identified during this process. The individual is encouraged to use an internal document entitled “Start Up Capital Requirement, One Time Start-Up Expenses and Ongoing Monthly Expenses for First Three Months”. This allows the individual to determine the amount of cash that will be required to start the business. Typically, the business consultant, if used, assists the individual to write the business plan.
Completed business plans are submitted to the DBVI counselor for review and, if approved, determination of the DBVI financial contribution. DBVI may provide up to $5,000.00 for start-up costs of ventures that lead to self-sufficiency (those intended to meet the financial needs) and $2,500.00 for ventures intended to supplement other income. Business rent and utilities can be paid for a maximum of four months. In limited situations these funding levels may be waived with approval of the DBVI Director.
The IPE is written to detail the services to be provided and DBVI’s financial contribution. An internal “Letter of Agreement” may also be completed which summarizes the agreed upon funding and expectations.
The individual is required to register the business name with the Secretary of State to ensure they are the owner of the business, establish a “track” record for future lending needs, allow for purchase of business insurance and ensure the ability to claim bad debts.
Expectations and a clear understanding of success at closure is critical and typically detailed in the “Letter of Agreement”. It may be months before a new business shows a clear profit, so DBVI follows the case for a minimum of six months once the business has opened. An essential indicator of success is that the business has been sustained for 90 days without additional support from DBVI and is able to maintain ongoing business expenses.