Corporations that have supplier-diversity programs
require certification in order to prevent fraud and to
prove that they are using diverse suppliers, especially in
instances where government contracts mandate that a
portion of business be directed to MWBEs.
Until now, that same advantage was not available to
businesses owned and operated by people with disabili-
ties, Kemp says. “This is the first of its kind,” he says of
USBLN’s certification program. “I could see this was not
getting done for people with disabilities, and it needed
to be done. Business opportunities for economic develop-
ment of disabled-owned businesses were not occurring.
Much like discrimination occurs in the marketplace and
employment, disabled business owners were not getting
a fair shake with supplier opportunities.”
So far, USBLN has certified 20 businesses, and Kemp
believes the organization can certify 50–100 more busi-
nesses by year’s end.
“We think there are thousands and thousands of
businesses,” he says. “We are having little trouble find-
ing disability-owned business enterprises, because there
are a lot of people out there who could not get jobs and
were not willing to sit on the couch and watch television
all day, so they became entrepreneurs as a result of dis-
crimination in the marketplace, or personal choice.”
Kemp says he has always been an advocate for people
with disabilities, but “not a hell-raising, chain-myself-
to-the-bus kind of guy.”
“I have never been afraid of speaking up when I
believe injustice is occurring, and I think this was all
about my dad building pride in who I was,” he says.
Kemp recalls his college years at Georgetown fondly. He dated and “specialized in socializing.”
But all of that changed dramatically when he went to
law school at Washburn University in Topeka, Kan.
“Topeka [has] a fine school, a good school, but it was
a culture shock going from a big city like Washington,
D.C., to Topeka,” says Kemp, who is married. “I was very
accepted socially by girls in Washington, no problem.
But going to Kansas, it was like going back in time. And
I thought, gosh, I can’t believe I’m being rejected by
people because of my disability. It was just a very bad
Creating Business, Job Opportunities
in the Securities Industry
“Corporations and employers recognize the value of including people with disabilities in their workplace and
marketplace,” says Jill Houghton, deputy executive director at the US Business Leadership
Network (USBLN). The nonprofit’s goal: to help
companies owned by people with disabilities
gain business opportunities through its new
One disability-owned and -operated start-up in USBLN’s certification pipeline is Raise
Hope Capital, a financial-services company
based in Newark, N.J. Launched in July 2008,
Managing Partners Scott Chesney, Brian J.
Rogers and Michael G. Testa have not only
begun selling security, investment and insurance products, they’re also committed to
training and employing people with disabilities as the company grows.
“People with disabilities aren’t necessarily looking for philanthropy; they want to work,”
says Testa, who along with Vietnam veteran
Rogers conceived the business idea as a way
to keep Rogers in the securities industry.
The two had worked together for several
years. But after an operation to remove a
growth on Rogers’ throat left him with no vocal
cords, “management said they weren’t sure if
they could keep Brian on ‘because you can’t
have a salesperson who can’t speak on the
phone,’” recalls Testa.
Headquartered in the same building as Rutgers
Business School, Raise Hope Capital’s managing
partners are leveraging some of the state university’s relationships to recruit potential brokers,
interns and mentors.
“We’re looking for people who also want to
give back,” says Chesney.
The company will soon begin offering new
hires securities (series 7) training as well as
work/life–balance coaching. “We’re trying to
create a level playing field with regard to acces-
sibilities,” he says.
DiversityInc will add a supplier-diversity question about USBLN-certified company spend to our 2011
DiversityInc Top 50 survey. For more information, visit