Self-Employment Steps for Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors: Helping a Consumer Start a Business

Chapter 7:

Programs for Minorities

The Small Business Administration

The Small Business Administration funds the Minority Enterprise Development (MED) program. This 8(a) program helps socially and economically disadvantaged small business owners access a variety of business development services. These include the opportunity to receive sole-source or limited-competition federal contracts. Under 8(a), SBA enters into prime contracts with federal departments and agencies who then subcontract with eligible disadvantaged small businesses. Eligible program participants (i.e., people who are developing their businesses) can receive sole source and competitive 8(a) contract support, U.S. surplus property and technology grants, and training in business principles. Transition-stage 8(a) participants (i.e., those moving to competitive markets) receive sole source and competitive 3(a) contract support, U.S.-owned technology and surplus property grants, business principles skills training, help with forming joint ventures, and training/technical assistance in business planning. 

U.S. Department of Commerce

The U.S. Department of Commerceís Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) promotes the establishment and growth of competitive minority-owned businesses. The MBDA is committed to wealth creation in minority communities. The agency's mission is to promote the growth and competitiveness of large, medium, and small minority business enterprises. To do this MBDA coordinates and leverages public and private sector resources. MBDA funds a network of Minority Business Development Centers, Native American Business Development Centers, and Business Resource Centers located throughout the nation. The centers provide assistance with writing business plans, marketing, management, technical assistance, and financial planning. MBDA also hosts a Minority Business Internal Portal, which provides access to tools and business information to help businesses grow and thrive in the digital economy. It also hosts the Phoenix Database of descriptive information on minority business enterprises and matches firms with contract opportunities. Additionally, MBDA has a variety of publications for public research and review. For more information, visit the agency's web site at

U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)

The DOTís Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) promotes customer satisfaction through successful partnerships that results in an inclusive and effective small business procurement process. OSDBU provides a wide range of assistance for small businesses owned by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals, including minorities and women, in participating in contracting opportunities in the following areas: (a) advocacy to expand opportunities for all businesses, especially small women-owned, and disadvantaged businesses; (b) outreach to provide transportation-related business opportunity information and assistance to the small business community, and (c) financial services through the short-term lending program and the bonding assistance program.

Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP)

In the FY 2001 budget, Congress approved an Office of Disability Employment Policy for the Department of Labor. Programs and staff of the former President's Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities have been integrated in this office. The Office of Disability has identified many programs and activities including a cultural diversity initiative and self-employment for people with disabilities. For more information contact The Office of Disability Employment Policy by mail at 1331 F Street, N.W. Suite. 300, Washington D.C. 20004; by phone at 202-376-6200 (voice) or 202-376-6205 (TTD), by FAX at 202-376-6219, or check out their web page at

© July 1998, 1st Revision June 1999, 2nd Revision February 2001