In 2012, the National Federation of the Blind and NABM wanted to raise the awareness of the Randolph-Sheppard Program and bring a focus to the issues facing blind entrepreneurs. The result was the Blind Entrepreneurs Initiative. Terry C. Smith, who had served as Director of Tennessee Services for the Blind & Visually Impaired for almost 3 decades was contracted to lead the initiative. Mr. Smith had built what was arguably the best business enterprises program in the country and was a well-respected national leader in the Randolph-Sheppard community. The NFBEI has succeeded beyond anyone’s wildest imaginations and today is recognized as one of the most important Randolph-Sheppard initiatives in recent memory.
The NFBEI focuses on 3 areas:
- Technical Assistance
The NFBEI considers training as one of its most important services. Speakers are provided for state blind vendor meetings. Terry Smith conducts training for state agency staff and Elected Committees of Blind Vendors. The NFBEI was the impetus behind the partnership with the Hadley School for the Blind which offers training for both current and prospective Randolph-Sheppard entrepreneurs. It has conducted seminars / workshops on relevant topics such as healthy vending.
Terry is also available to offer technical assistance to state agencies. He is frequently called upon by state agencies and blind entrepreneurs for advice and counsel on critical issues. The thing that makes the NFBEI so effective is that Terry has access to so many resources and experts that he can call on for assistance. If it is a legal issue, there are nationally recognized Randolph-Sheppard attorneys at his disposal.
As an advocacy organization, the NFBEI has been effective working with federal entities and educating Congress on issues that affect blind entrepreneurs. It has sponsored fly-ins that focus strictly on Randolph-Sheppard issues and has participated in other fly-ins sponsored by NAMA.
For more information about the NFBEI, contact Terry Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org