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Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Services

Self-Employment Program

Iowa Self-Employment (ISE) is a program designed for Job Candidates (JCs) of Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Services (IVRS) or Iowa Department for the Blind (IDB) whose vocational goal is self-employment. 

While IVRS mainly focuses on helping JCs get hired by someone else, the ISE program provides technical and financial assistance to help individuals with disabilities achieve self-sufficiency and work at their optimum level by starting, expanding, or purchasing a business. The business itself must be "for-profit" and Iowa-based. Referrals to the ISE program are made by IVRS/ IDB counselors.

What Kind of Assistance Does ISE Provide?

In addition to business counseling services and technical assistance from the Business Development Specialist, ISE provides two kinds of monetary funding: Financial Assistance and Technical Assistance. This funding is provided through one of two different programs: Microenterprise ISE or Full ISE.

Financial Assistance

Financial Assistance (FA) is used primarily to provide tangible assets to your business. This can include but not limited to business equipment, flyers, supplies, inventory, computers and software, advertising, insurance, and business-related rent costs for up to 6 months. Up to $10,000 of assistance can be received, based on an individual's Dollar-for-Dollar Match.

Technical Assistance

Technical Assistance (TA) is used to purchase specialized services that are above the expertise of the Business Specialist and counselor. Some common uses for these funds are paying for legal fees, help with accounting, website developers, and graphic designers. Up to $10,000 of assistance can be received.​ No Dollar-for-Dollar Match is required.

Microenterprise ISE

Microenterprise ISE is used for individuals that want to start, or have, a business that needs less than $1500 in FA and less than $1500 in TA. No Dollar-for-Dollar Match is required.

Full ISE

Full ISE is used for individuals who are or want to become entrepreneurs and who own their own business. Individuals can be the sole owner or have co-owners in a partnership, Limited Liability Company (LLC), or corporation. Feasibility of the business idea must be investigated with the team.

Full ISE is best suited if your business needs are greater than $1500 for FA and $1500 for TA. ISE FA is based on a Dollar-for-dollar Match for up to $10,000. For ISE TA up to $10,000 max, no $ for $ Match is required. A comprehensive, business plan is required in order to determine the feasibility of the business concept. The Business Development Specialist's primary role is to assist individuals with business planning.

What Businesses Does ISE Support?

What Businesses Does ISE Support? ISE supports most businesses. However, there are a few that cannot be supported. These include:

  • Non-profits,
  • Multi-level marketing,
  • Illegal businesses, and
  • Businesses inconsistent with community standards.

Is Self-Employment Right for You?

Your IVRS/ IDB counselor can help you explore ISE to find out if self-employment is the right strategy for your career success.

Contact Us

Find an IVRS office nearest to you, or call us at (515) 281-4211 to be referred to an IVRS counselor in your area. People who are blind or severely visually impaired should contact the Iowa Department for the Blind at (800) 362-2587.

Linda Vongxay, ISE Rehab Assistant
(515) 242-5879

Yvette Clausen, MBA, Business Development Specialist
(515) 401-2974

Kochell Weber-Ricklefs, MPA, PHR, Business Development Specialist
(319) 290-4268

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