What is the Disabled Businesspersons Association?
First launched in 1985, the Disabled Businesspersons Association (DBA) was later structured as a nonprofit, tax exempt, 501(c)(3) public charity and educational organization in 1991 to help disabled entrepreneurs maximize their potential in the business world, and to encourage the participation and enhance the performance of the disabled in the work force.
While there are many organizations, associations and agencies that champion the needs and promote better understanding of people with disabilities in the business world, the DBA is the first (the pioneer) to target the role of the disabled in business. As a volunteer-driven organization of and directed by successful business owners, professionals and executives with disabilities, the DBA has the in-house first hand expertise to provide information, counseling, coaching and mentorship from the perspective of someone with a disability in today’s, highly competitive business world.
The Urban Miyares Story: The story behind the Disabled Businesspersons Association.
Returning (1968) from the Vietnam War where he was presumed dead and put inside a (KIA) body bag, only to be found still breathing by an alert combat medic, Army infantry Sgt. Urban Miyares discovered firsthand the challenges faced by the disabled in the workplace.
Having a number of disabilities, and being psychologically scarred by his Vietnam combat experience, complicated by a medical doctor’s prognosis of only having 20 years at most remaining in his life, Miyares finds it difficult to find work to support his wife and new born son. Out of financial need he takes jobs unloading freight cars, loading eggs cartons onto trucks, and taking on various sales jobs … all painful employment experiences in conflict with his doctors’ advice.
“The only one who’ll hire me is me”.
Discouraged by his inability to find meaningful work, Miyares decides to go into business for himself. He seeks guidance and support from vocational rehabilitation and the counselor tells him to “Get his head out of the sand. Someone as disabled as you are, with only a high school diploma doesn’t have a chance in business.” He then goes to a U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) office and is directed to workshops on small business; later being told he did not qualify for financial assistance to start a business.
Financially devastated and with only the support of his wife, he starts a small company. It doesn’t do well, and he starts another one. After four failed business attempts, he then makes a personal promise that: “One day, when I succeed in business, I’m going to help others with disabilities.” It was then that his downward spiral in business success changed, and Miyares does well in business and his confidence begins to return. He starts several other small businesses. Some succeed. Some he’s forced to close, mostly because of issues with his health.
Adversity strikes throughout his entrepreneurial years. He loses his sight, had a kidney transplant (after more than 20 years with end-stage kidney disease), his thyroid is removed, type 1 diabetes advances with many of its complications (but finally the disease is under control after talking glucometer and insulin pump are invented), nerve damage in both legs, hearing loss, severe spinal arthritis, chronic pain, digestive complications, a stroke, and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), most conditions and their complications presumed from the chemical (Agent Orange used in Vietnam) continues to plague him.
Yet, in spite of all the medical set-backs, Miyares pushes forward with his passion of self-employment and small business ownership, launching businesses in food service (restaurant, bakery, catering, food-service equipment supplies company), construction, public relations, government procurement, real estate, financial brokerage, retail gift and hardware stores, manufacturing (steel fabrication), electronics (PCB design), publishing (Innovation Magazine and Financial Advisor Newsletter), import-export, mail-order, new product research and development company (as an inventor himself), consulting, venture capital, and other enterprises, in addition to a stint as a business columnist and freelance writer, and doing television news appearances on business.
Unfinished business; time to commit to the promise
In 1985, after a number of business successes, three disabled veterans) two having spinal cord injury and one being legally blind) contacted Urban Miyares asking for assistance. It was then time for Miyares to fulfill his vow of years earlier, and he then began helping disabled veterans with their self-employment and business interests, and the number of requests increased in the following years. Word of what Miyares’ social responsibility was accomplishing in his “pilot program to help disabled veterans in business” spread throughout the nation.
With increasing requests from non-veterans with disabilities and state agencies in vocational rehabilitation asking for his assistance, the Disabled Businesspersons Association (DBA) was formed as a charitable, not-for-profit organization (in 1991), with Miyares as its volunteer President and Director. A position he still holds today.