The Business Enterprises of Texas (BET) program is a federally sponsored program administered by the DARS Division for Blind Services (DBS). BET collaborates with the DBS Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) program to identify consumers who are suitable for food service and vending management training and employment.
DBS consumers who are selected to become licensed BET managers earn their personal income from profits produced by their businesses, which are located on state and federal properties. Managers hire and pay their own labor and purchase products for resale.
Businesses managed by BET managers produce more than $65 million in annual sales. Each manager aims to provide an appealing variety of quality food and beverage choices, including healthy options, in a pleasant environment.
BET remodeled and upgraded 10 businesses to bring fresh equipment and new looks to BET dining areas, as well as to provide more current vending service technology.
Support for Texas Job Seekers and Businesses
BET employed over 1,400 Texans in its facilities, and BET managers purchased over $10,000 million in products for resale from Texas businesses. Additionally, DARS staff drove over 78,000 miles, completing over 1,000 consulting visits to BET businesses.
Manny Sets His Course for Success
When Manny Sifuentes was 4 years old, his mother took him and his older brother to see the eye doctor for what she thought would be a routine eye exam and perhaps an eyeglass prescription. When she was told her boys had congenital retinoschisis, which causes progressive vision loss, she became a fierce defender of her boys' education and even more committed to pushing them to explore their world.
Manny attended every workshop and summer program that the then Texas Commission for Blind (TCB) had organized. Through workshops and lengthy conversations with TCB counselors, he quickly realized that it was not enough to know what you want in life. He learned how to be informed, create an argument for what he wanted, write down an action plan to obtain his goals, and then push forward. He later used these same tools to advocate for others. He opened a National Federation for the Blind chapter in El Paso to educate and advocate for parents and students.
At age 25, he set the course to learn to become a Licensed Manager in the Business Enterprise of Texas (BET). He took courses at the Community College in food management and small business before going through BET Training. A year later, he was assigned to his first location, a snack bar at the Department of Homeland Security in Dallas, which he ran for 12 years. In 2011, he came to Austin to manage the cafeteria at the Texas Department of Transportation.
With 17 years in BET, he appreciates the work that has shaped his life. He now gives his time to mentor young blind people. Manny also employs a young man who is deaf, and learned some basic sign language to be able to communicate and assist the young man with his first job. Manny received the DARS Business of the Year award in 2014 for his work mentoring people with disabilities. The Business Enterprise of Texas has been a rewarding career in providing his family and helping others to reach their career goals.