Back to Basics: Credit and Capital Purchases


Thanks to everyone who was able to attend the first workshop in our 2019 “Commit to Co-ops” series. Kavita Koppa explored different options for making big purchases as a cooperative business with a focus on how to be eligible for a loan. It included basics on business finances as well as myths about business finance, how to minimize financial risk as a business, and Texas-specific resources to help move forward with your business purchases.

This workshop is also the first episode of our new podcast from ACBA Board member and co-op leader Ryan Nill! You can hear the workshop as well as Q&A with Kavita in the link below and follow along with handouts Protecting Your Credit, Credit 101 & Myths, and Co-op Credit & Big Buys.

Please be sure to attend the next workshop, Participatory Bylaws and Cooperative Practice, from Scheel & Dioquino, on Wednesday, February 27th. And stay tuned for the next podcast covering this important topic.

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2019 Speaker Series Announcements

Exciting news!

As a result of recently received grant funding from the Cooperative Foundation, the Austin Cooperative Business Foundation (ACBF) is pleased to announce 9 cooperative-specific workshops for the upcoming year.

Building on the success of our 2018 Co-op Summer School, we’re offering a series of training sessions united around the theme “Commit to Co-ops.” Whether you’re a seasoned cooperator or interested in learning more about cooperatives, these workshops are for you. There is no cost to attend but we ask for a small Pay-What-You-Can donation ($5-15) to help fund our work.


Here is the full schedule, with more details on specific times and locations to come!

January - Back to Basics: Credit and Capital Purchasing for Cooperatives with Kavita Koppa
February - Participatory Bylaws: to Distributed Power and Equity with Kristin Scheel
March - Developing a Culture of Excellence with Beth Beutel
April - We Goin’ to Be All Right: Communicating in Co-ops with Kavita Koppa
May - Co-opensation, fairness, and compensation with Wavell Watson
July - Converting your Business to a Co-op with Don Jackson
September - Legal Considerations for Housing Cooperatives with Daniel Miller
October - Union Co-ops: Examples and Opportunities with Ryan Pollack
November - Cooperative staff evaluations: good for everyone! with Daniel Miller

The Cooperative Foundation is a steadfast supporter of Cooperative development, research, and education. For more than 60 years, vision and generosity has guided the work of the foundation and in turn benefited cooperative members and communities. Formed by cooperative leaders in 1945, The Cooperative Foundation received much of its financial assets through the vision and generosity of St. Paul architect Thomas Ellerbe Sr. and his family. That endowment and contributions from cooperative benefactors continues to support the work of the foundation. Through its mission to expand and enhance cooperatives through research, teaching, extension, innovation, and development, The Cooperative Foundation remains a vital part of the past and future of cooperation in the United States. For information about funding priorities and the competitive grant making process, visit the Foundation’s website:

Commit to Co-ops! Research Projects

Commit to Co-ops! Research Projects

The ACBF is looking for qualified researchers for two exciting projects investigating the impact and potential of the local cooperative economy. We are in search of qualified researchers for two projects investigating opportunities and resources for the local cooperative economy. These projects are part of our upcoming year-long educational programming series, Commit to Co-ops, which also offers educational workshops for local cooperators and cooperators in training.

Researchers may apply for one or both of the following research projects:

  1. Cooperative conversions:

    This research project will investigate the opportunities for conversions of traditionally managed local businesses in Central Texas into cooperatives (worker, consumer, purchasing or otherwise). The research will illuminate the potential economic impact of converting local businesses to cooperatives, as well as the best opportunities and techniques for doing so that are currently locally viable. Sectors of focus could include, but are not limited to, the food and agriculture industry, retail businesses, the service industry and restaurants, arts and culture businesses and organizations, construction, and professional services. The final result of the research project will present qualitative and quantitative evidence and analysis of the possible impact of cooperative business conversions for our region. Data should be presented in a visually engaging format, both for print and online, easy adaptable and useful for scholars, activists, and local policymakers.

  2. Technical assistance capacity building:

    This research project is an investigation into the existing gaps in technical assistance for those looking to start or improve their cooperatives here in Central Texas. The researcher(s) will 1) compile a guide of existing technical assistance resources, and 2)  identify specific ways and sectors in which local cooperative development assistance can be improved. The study should focus on local and Texas-level resources, including things like loan funds, software useful for cooperatives, and technical assistance consultants. It will also be more focused on figuring out the specific ways in which the Texas cooperative ecosystem should grow in order to foster the development of new cooperatives and the flourishing of already existing ones.

Final products

The final format of the research projects should be both print and digital. We highly encourage the use of interactive maps, data visualizations, and other easily shareable and visually engaging ways of presenting your robust quantitative and qualitative research on the topics identified above. All data sources must be cited and copyright or other permissions obtained.

The final products will be shared on the ACBF’s website and used by advocates, other researchers and policymakers in Austin, Central Texas and beyond. Summaries of the research will also be distributed to the local and national press and shared directly with the members of other organizations the ACBF is a part of.

Responsibilities of the researchers:

  • Perform and document research based on the research proposals that is logical, coherent, repeatable, and well-cited

  • Create engaging, well-designed, and digitally-distributable final products

  • Facilitate connections with local and national groups, as needed to conduct and deepen research findings, to aid ACBF’s networking and outreach efforts

What we’re looking for in a workshop designer/facilitator:

  • Passionate and knowledgeable about cooperatives and excited to help build the local cooperative economy

  • Experience with large-scale, in-depth independent (if applying independently) or team-based research projects (if applying as a team)

  • Background in small business development, cooperative economics and development, urban planning and policy, and graphic design or related skills is preferred but not required

  • Bilingual in Spanish/English (preferred, not a requirement)

Diversity Encouraged:

We aim to build a multi‐racial and class‐diverse organization that reflects the future of our member cooperatives. Women, people of color and others who may be underrepresented in non-profits, cooperative development, and cooperatives are strongly encouraged to apply.

Further details:

Researchers will be contracted by the ACBF for a total of $1500 per research project. Individuals or teams are encouraged to apply for one or both of the research project topics. You may apply as an individual or a small group to do a workshop; however, note that due to limited funding, the payment is per research project, not per person.

Research must be completed within six months of contract signing, and at the latest by September 2019 (whichever comes first).

Please submit your application here.

The deadline to submit proposals has been extended to January 31, 2019.

If you have questions, reach out to Carol Fraser, Grant Administrator, at

The Commit to Co-op Workshop Series and Research Projects are partially funded by the Cooperative Foundation. Austin Cooperative Business Foundation is supported by donations from people like you. Please consider a tax-deductible donation to the ACBF today.

2019 Board Election Candidates

Welcome our candidates for the 2019 board elections! Voting will be open shortly - if you are a member of ACBA, your primary contact will be receiving a link to the online vote, or you can vote in-person at the upcoming General Meeting (details TBA).

Beth Beutel


Beth’s Biography

Beth Beutel was born and raised in Houston, Texas. She briefly ran away from Texas to attend the University of Southern California where she earned a BA in English, with minors in Business Administration and German Literature. Her two favorite classes were advanced poetry writing and business law. After some post collegiate wandering, she moved to Austin in 2008, and was hired to work at Wheatsville Co-op within two months of arriving. She quickly became passionate about the cooperative difference by signing up new owners and befriending current and former Wheatsville directors. She joined Black Star in the fall of 2008 and put a paychecks worth of money into the investor share offering. In her free time, she can be found reading non-fiction books, enjoying Austin’s excellent library system, cuddling with her two large dogs, exploring the joys and challenges of owning a duplex with her husband, and pretending to garden.

Beth’s Candidate Statement

Hi Everyone! I’m Beth Beutel. You may recognize me from such cooperative experiences as shopping at Wheatsville where I’ve worked for 10 years, drinking at Black Star where I’ve served on the Board for 3 years, or attending ACBA happy hours and educational events, which I have attended often and enjoyed immensely.

I started working at Wheatsville in 2008, as a cashier; I applied to work at Wheatsville out of my passion for changing the food system. Learning about cooperatives gave me both hope and a methodology to use the power of self-organizing communities to solve the problems in the food system and beyond.

When I first started at Wheatsville, cashiers were responsible for signing up new owners, and I prided myself on being the person who signed up the most new owners per month. Getting familiar with short ways of explaining cooperatives generally and the particulars of Wheatsville membership led me to be promoted to Hospitality Clerk, who are now responsible for all ownership registrations.

In 2012, I became the Board Administrator for Wheatsville and had a front row seat to excellent governance during a time of huge growth for Wheatsville. The position has also afforded me the great learning experience of working directly for the Chief Executive Grocer (CEG) The role has also afforded me the opportunity to attend three CCMA consumer cooperative conferences in 2012, 2017, and 2018, where I’ve made connections with cooperators nationwide.

In 2015, I decided to run for the Black Star Co-op Board of Directors to take all the lessons I’d learned about governance to the next level by actually being a director myself. It has been quite a ride - I’ve led committees to rewrite the Bylaws and the Ends policies in collaboration and with the utmost transparency to the owners. After the board voted me in to be their President in 2017, I had a “back to basics” approach - ensuring that we dedicating time to ensuring all directors had a strong understanding of the policy governance system which they already used, utilizing techniques built into the system to hold the Workers Assembly accountable, and that we built strong alignment with each other and the workers. Now the WA and Board are better aligned and better at using the systems they had already implemented than they were when I started.

Donald Jackson


Donald’s Biography

Donald Jackson-Spitzer is an economic development planner working in the Austin region. He is a member of three Austin-area cooperatives: Black Star Co-op, Wheatsville Co-op, and UFCU. He was a founding Board member of the ACBA and helped develop its initial strategic plan. Donald served on the Board of Directors of Black Star Co-op when it first opened doors, an experience he remembers with great affection. He also participated in the Cooperation Texas report Beyond Business as Usual, contributing analysis on the economic and social impact of cooperatives in the City of Austin. He is completing his second elected term on the Wheatsville Co-op Board. He looks forward to further opportunities to support cooperative development in Austin and Texas.

Donald’s Candidate Statement

I have worked within the Austin cooperative movement for most of the time I have lived in Austin. My experiences have been challenging, but deeply educational and ultimately edifying. Among successes I count serving on the Black Star Board of Directors during its opening, contributing economic analysis to the Cooperation Texas report Beyond Business as Usual, serving two terms on the Wheatsville Co-op Board, and serving two terms (including my current term) on and helping found the ACBA itself. From all of my experiences I have developed an appreciation for both the scale of challenges faced by cooperatives, and the tremendous positive impact of which they are capable.

The greatest strengths I may bring to the ACBA Board come from being able to apply these experiences alongside my formal training as an economic development planner and analyst. I have strong familiarity with economic and growth trends relevant to cooperative businesses and housing. I have strong experience in developing strategic economic plans, as well as developing more specific plans related to housing demand and industry-specific growth projections. I have a good working knowledge of policies and growth strategies of cooperatives nationally and internationally. I can offer basic consulting and analytic services to member co-ops, as well as general awareness of regional and national programs relevant to cooperative entities.

If I am re-elected to the ACBA Board as a Wheatsville delegate, I would also focus on general promotion and education around cooperative model, especially in relation to small business conversions and housing development. I believe our local and national economy suffer deeply from structural problems of inequity and destructive privilege. Cooperatives are powerful tools to address these problems, and I am happy to work diligently to help support cooperative development and prosperity.

U.S. Worker Cooperative National Conference

The 2018 Worker Cooperative National Conference brought together over 450 attendees from all over the United States and beyond. ACBA board members Annelies Lottmann and Benjamin Bradley were in attendance, sharing news of members coops in Austin, and networking with regional groups from other cities.

Several enthusiastic cooperators took home Cooperative Principles Posters, which will now also be found among the collection of the Center for the Study of Political Graphics. Conference keynotes explored the future of work in a rapidly shifting world, and inspired action towards economic and racial justice. Workshops included a range of topics of interest to worker cooperatives both forming and established, including financial literacy, social skills and peer coaching, funding, and governance. Look for news of the next national conference in 2020 at

Interview with Board member Carol Fraser

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Tell us about your experience with co-ops.
In 2013, I started working for a worker cooperative - a farm near Montreal called Ferme Tourne-sol. Though I didn’t join the cooperative (I was hired as a temporary, seasonal worker), I got a first hand look at how they run their day-to-day operations and their business as a whole. I was impressed not only by their farming techniques - top-notch - but by their efficiency, and how much fun they had. They inspired me to open my own market garden a few years later, but more than that, they reminded me that owning and operating a business with your friends can be just as rewarding as it is challenging, and the best part is no boss!

Why do you think co-ops are important?
I think co-ops are important because they respond to community needs. When it comes down to it, “normal” for-profit corporations are responding to the needs of a small amount of people (the Board, the CEO, the shareholders), whose primary goal is to make more profit for themselves, at any expense. The primary goal of a co-op is to provide a service for a community of people, usually in a small place (a neighborhood, a city, or a region). This can be the simple goal of providing decent work, affordable housing, or good food, for example. This is somehow a pretty radical idea in our society, but it seems to me that businesses like co-ops are only going to become more necessary in the future. We need to start looking out for each other more, and thinking less selfishly, in everything we do. That definitely includes economically.

How are co-ops related to your studies and work?
Co-ops are very much related to my work as an urban planner and sustainable design scholar. I see co-ops as great models for sharing resources and generating economic activity in a way that’s more fair to the underserved and more conscious of environmental impact. This is because of what I said earlier; since co-ops are concerned with what they produce and for whom, not just the profits that are generated, the whole outlook of co-ops is just different and has different long-term implications for society. Through my work, which right now is focused on the relationship between co-ops and sustainability, I hope I can raise awareness about co-ops and the potential they represent for our society.

What are a few things the readers probably wouldn't expect about you? 
One of my favorite activities is baking my own sourdough bread. I also make a really mean apple pie. Really, I love to bake, and share with family and friends.

I’m an extrovert and I love being with people, but one of my favorite ways to re-charge is to go on solo, week long bike tours in the countryside. There is truly nothing better to clear your mind.

In college in Montreal, I majored in German and East Asian Studies, so I speak German, Japanese, and French. Ja!

What's your favorite baby animal?
My favorite baby animal is probably a baby owl. They are the cutest!

If you imagined a newspaper headline about the Texas co-op movement 20 years from now, what would it be?

In 20  years, the headline will be: “From housing, to food, to manufacturing: co-ops drive the Texas economy, earning the Lone-Star state a new nickname, ‘Basque region of the Americas’”