By: Monica Peña

We are consistently encouraging our alumni to increase their circle of influence by attending professional events in the area. We are proud of the community partnership that we have with the four chambers; including Austin Young ChamberGreater Austin Asian Chamber of Commerce (GAACC)Greater Austin Black Chamber of Commerce (GABC), and Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (GAHCC). When our clients graduate from the Build Your Business PLAN workshop series, they qualify for one year membership to one of these chambers. Each chamber has unique opportunities for business owners.

Here are some of the opportunities the chambers have this month to learn something new or meet other business owners.

March 20th- Coffee Connection Presented by Rudy’s

March 22nd and 23rd- Asian Eats Night Market

March 28th- Small Biz U

The joy of trying out new recipes

By Hye June Park

The spring is a good time to learn how to cook. I recommend you visit Tye Cooks Austin website which has plenty of recipes.

Tye Lewis, an owner of Tye Cooks Austin loves teaching people to cook a healthy gourmet meal using staples found in most pantries. Her business combines her training as a teacher and her passion for food. She offers highly personalized one-on-one and small group cooking classes. Additionally, she offers on-site team building cooking lessons for organizations in the Austin area. She is happy when her clients realize that they can cook healthy flavorful entrees in their own kitchen.

However, it has not always been easy starting a business. She faced obstacles like developing a clear mission, finding her “client”, and startup funding. She got help from Economic Growth Business Incubator (EGBI). EGBI helped her learn the basics of how to set up a business from scratch. “Also, the value of insurance, pricing, refining my elevator pitch, and seeing the full value of the service I provide to my clients.” Tye offered. “Now my goals are to expand into more markets here in the Austin metro area as well another Texas city. I am working on publishing a multi-cultural cuisine cookbook geared for those who have food allergies or intolerance.” You can find her own recipes on her website, which consist of ingredients found in most people’s pantries, but also one ingredient that can easily be found in a local grocery store but is versatile. Anyone can try one of the free recipes and building confidence in your own cooking skills.

For more information about the Tye Cooks Austin, visit

Unity within the community leads to business growth

By Hye June Park

The number of black-owned businesses in Austin is growing. February is Black History Month, an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans and a time for recognizing the central role of blacks in U.S. history. To celebrate Black History Month, Economic Growth Business Incubator (EGBI) recognizes two clients that operate an African food mart and a nonprofit that highlights black history. One brings Ethiopian food to the Austin community, while the other helps youth shape their identity and learn from their past.

Sitotaw Degefaw, one of the owners of Selam International Mart & Café on North Lamar, sells imported Ethiopian and East African foods and spices in his grocery store. Visitors can explore East African culture while enjoying traditional Ethiopian food without the need to travel to Ethiopia. Selam International Mart & Café is a place where the East African community in Austin can come and enjoy their native Ethiopian culture, as well as a place for non-Africans to try something new in a very friendly environment. Degefaw’s favorite part of owning his business is meeting new people and having a place where his community can gather.

He started his business with just an idea. He came to EGBI to get the support he needed for his small business, with the idea of starting a slaughterhouse for a particular type of beef important to Ethiopian food. EGBI helped him to understand the governmental regulations around processing meat, and as his idea got better defined, he had the opportunity to purchase a grocery mart that had space to add a butcher shop for his specialty meat.

He worked with Joni Foster, EGBI’s Program Director, through one-on-one coaching sessions. “She connected me to the supplier that slaughters the specialty meat according to my country’s custom,” Degefaw offered. “She worked with me side by side to make my dream happen.” He continues to visit with Joni once a month to talk about this business. For more information about Selam International Mart & Café, visit

The Living History Foundation was founded in February 2018 when the first group of people sat around the table and called the meeting to order. In the past year, the organization has received its 501(C)(3) status from the IRS and presented three living history programs in Central Texas. Edgar B. Garza, the Board President of Living History Foundation, said, “The mission of the Foundation is to inspire children and the young-at-heart to learn about the contributions people of color made in the building of this great nation from the time before the first Europeans to the present day.

“History is an important part of our personal lives,” Garza continued. “It is the key to understanding who we are as humans. The youth will ultimately develop their own perspective on human life and society. One that is based on stories about ordinary people just like the youth that are in the program. They will also learn from ordinary people lessons in courage, leadership, and constructive protest.

It is the first time for many of the board members to be a part of a non-profit organization, but EGBI meets with directors a couple of times per month to help them put everything together. The board gathered in December 2018 to make plans for 2019, and Joni Foster, Program Director at EGBI facilitated the conversation. Keep a lookout for one of the 12 living history programs the organization will offer in the months to come. For more information about the Living History Foundation, visit

Board members of Living History Foundation
Black History
Salem Mart

Ice Cream Cone or Fruit Cup?

Las Mangonadas opened it’s doors in December of 2016 to serve customers a variety of their forty homemade flavors of ice cream,  cakes and pastries made daily, fruit cups, and other tasty snacks.  Claudia Sanchez, the co-owner of Las Mangonadas, learned about the business from her uncle, Alfredo Sanchez,  who was already an entrepreneur. Claudia gained experience through a similar business she helped her uncle with in Illinois until she decided to move back to Austin.  Both created the Austin business to provide the assortment of sweet to salty munchies that also include corn cups, smoothies, Doritos locos, and so much more.  In business for less than a year, they have already started to see growth in sales.
Claudia first became connected with Economic Growth Business Incubator (EGBI) when she attended Curso Empresarial, EGBI’s series of workshops taught in Spanish by local subject matter experts who have years of experience dealing with start-up businesses.  “The workshops helped with the general vision of business and learning from the experience of other attendees and instructors.  I was motivated that running a business was not going to be easy, but with tenacity it was going to be possible.” Claudia continues, ” I continue to receive assistance from EGBI anytime I contact them. They are always ready to help with resources, their knowledge, and encouragement. ”



Do you have a Tamale Addiction?

Tamale Addiction is famous for being fresh, organic, local, and delicious! Since it first set up at a farmer’s market in 2010, these tamales have managed to collect a following of Tamale Addicts and in the process increasing their production from 80 tamales their first week to now 9000 tamales on a Monday through Friday work week. Their flavors have spread fast through markets and coffee shops around Austin, San Marcos, San Antonio, and major events as ACL Music Festival, Old Settlers Music Festival, Food and Wine Festival, Formula 1 at COTA, etc. Recently these savory meals have made it into local retail stores.  Now their product can be found in Wheatsville Co-op, Royal Blue Grocery, People’s Pharmacy, Fresh Plus, and Thom’s Market. You may even be lucky enough to spot a Tamale Addiction food truck in an office campus near you!
Owner Adrian Paredes and his wife Mariana’s experience in the food industry started in 2009. After a failed venture with Mexican desserts, a new opportunity randomly aroused when a farmer’s market director asked them if they could make and sell tamales (they didn’t know how, but they said “yes”). Over the next days, Adrian and Mariana called every family member they knew to collect recipes, tips, and tricks about making tamales. They worked all week to prepare 80 tamales for their first market. Those tamales were sold out within an hour. The couple rose to the task before them: going organic and local and create vegan and vegetarian options for their customers. They had found the magic!  This is when Tamale Addiction was born.
Due to rapid growth,  Adrian Peredes sought out training and consulting services from the Economic Growth Business Incubator to develop a business plan and financial projections.  “I  am so grateful for the training, support and networking EGBI has given my business.  The business has been such a great adventure for my wife and I.”  – Adrian Paredes.

ATX Co-op Taxi In the News

ATX Co-op Taxi splits the difference between traditional taxis and ridesharing. ATX Co-op Taxi ride-hail app is up on the iTunes store: “ATX Taxi”. The app is modeled much like your standard TNC template. Should it ever fail, as happened with Fasten and RideAus­tin during SXSW, the co-op can fall back on its full-time dispatch system – staffed with call-takers at an office just like any taxi franchise.
We are proud of our clients, ATX Co-op Taxi. Read more in the Austin Chronicle here.

Challenges for the Low-Income, Small Business Entrepreneur

by Al Lopez, EGBI Executive Director
For many people, owning their own business is a dream that may never become a reality, simply because the concept of becoming an entrepreneur is foreign.  There are a thousand reasons why low-income entrepreneurs never start their business, such as no access to start-up capital, unavailable financing due to poor credit, and limited connections to influential people.
While the challenges may seem insurmountable, there are options for low-income entrepreneurs looking to start a small business.  Here are just a few challenges you may face and how EGBI’s resources can help you:

  • Challenge 1Exposure to role models and mentors – the lack of role models and mentors is one of the main reasons why low-income entrepreneurs have difficulty starting small businesses.  Successful entrepreneurs have many role models and at least one mentor available to them at all times.  To overcome this challenge, you should reach out to other entrepreneurs, attend functions where you can meet others that have started successful businesses, and take advantage of the network of professionals and resources available at EGBI. We enjoy creating mentor/mentee relationships with our clients, so don’t hesitate reaching out to us to schedule a consultation.
  • Challenge 2Failure to see Entrepreneurship as a career option – because many low-income people do not have the same exposure to entrepreneurs, they often fail to see the benefit of being an entrepreneur.  Individuals who have the desire, need to have encouragement.  To overcome this challenge, make an effort to meet others with the same desires.  The programs available at EGBI will help provide you the encouragement you need to become a successful small business entrepreneur, and allow you to envision this as your career.
  • Challenge 3Misunderstanding of basic financial literacy – because low-income people have little money, they often lack the basic knowledge in regards to finances.  Understanding basic finances, such as balancing a checkbook, understanding credit, and more, will not only help you pay off debt and improve your credit rating, but will give you the ability to raise capital to fund your new business.  Learning financial management is a great resource available to you at EGBI through our entrepreneurial training.
  • Challenge 4Finding access to capital – no matter what type of business you wish to start, it is beneficial to understand and know how to find access to the necessary capital.  Since most low-income entrepreneurs have limited resources, such as family, friends, or their own money, they must rely on finding other avenues to fund their start-ups.  There is an abundance of resources available today for new entrepreneurs looking to start a business – you just need to know where to look. A good place to start is the upcoming Central Texas Small Business Forum on Oct. 14th.

Becoming an entrepreneur is a dream that many people have, but seldom is that dream made a reality.  For many reasons, people will squash their dream, simply because they lack the knowledge to start.  However, there are many programs available to help you become a small business owner and start you on the path to success and financial freedom.  You simply need to take the first step – contact EGBI today to see how we can help you make your dream a reality!

Is Collaborating Really Beneficial?

Is Collaborating Really Beneficial?

By Al Lopez, March 28, 2013

In the last couple of years, as I have navigated around the nonprofit/public sector, I’ve observed very different levels of organizations that are willing to work together when it may be in the very best interest of the clients they serve and the mission they purport to have.

Having been a long time financial executive, I find that management of an organization is all about making the best use of your resources, seeking out and implementing best practices, and continuing to drive for improvement and efficiency – along with executing your mission.

For the most part, there seems to be acceptance of the fact that collaborating around some issues can have an impact on the clients and communities being served; in addition to the improvement of effectiveness and efficiency of each individual organization.

However, there seems to be reluctance on how to best work some of these relationships. There definitely seems to be a trust factor that plays into conversations, if it’s felt that both organizations are “competing” for the same resources or clients.

Much like we tell our small business entrepreneur clients when considering a “partnership”, which does have a legal organizational implication, make sure everything is understood up front… how is the initiative mutually beneficial, what roles will each organization fulfill, and even under what circumstances will the working together cease.

Jane Wei-Skillern & Sonia Marciano wrote in the Stanford Social Innovation Review article The Networked Nonprofit, “networked nonprofits achieve their missions far more efficiently, effectively, and sustainably than they could have by working alone.”

We’ve been extremely fortunate with the partnerships we have developed here at EGBI. Besides the great relationships we have with the Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Capital City African American Chamber of Commerce among others, we’ve also established some key ones where we deliver our training services.

Our bilingual Curso Empresarial is a product of a couple of pilots we ran in 2012 with Las Comadres Para Las Americas.  Those successful pilots led to expanded plans for 2013 and even some terrific recognition from Austin’s FuturoFund as their 2013 grantee. Our next class with Las Comadres is scheduled to begin on April 9th.

In addition, we are working with El Buen Samaritano to run a Curso Empresarial at their facility in south Austin for their clients. The cohort at El Buen will begin on May 14th.

Finally, our latest partnership involves entrepreneurial outreach to veterans as we work with The University of Texas-Pan Am Veteran’s Business Outreach Center.  The Entrepreneur Training Project for Veterans is scheduled to begin at EGBI’s Emerging Enterprises Business Development Center on April 4th.

Encourage start-up entrepreneurs you know to sign up… the next wave of classes will start in a couple to a few weeks!  Go to the bottom of our home page and register.

Through our partnerships, we have been able to expand our footprint and service offering. In a city with thousands of nonprofits, there is no need to reinvent the wheel. Nonprofit collaborations can be very powerful if they are managed correctly. If you are a nonprofit thinking about collaborating with other organizations, check out Greenlights for Nonprofit Success’s Town Hall event on May 7th and explore national trends and local experiences with nonprofit collaborations and mergers.

Are you Financially Fit?

I know we’ve talked about this, but ARE YOU FINANCIALLY FIT?

By Al Lopez, March 19, 2013

Our initial session for EGBI’s small business startup training is Boot Camp. Many of you have taken it, and I know that many wonder why we are starting our “how to start a business” program with a class on personal finances and credit. However, it is surprising to me how many of the clients who begin our program have very little idea when it comes to their financial obligations, book-keeping and overall financial fitness. So we start with the basics and build on that. In fact, as we have refined our curriculum over the last two years, most of what we have embellished has been financial in nature – more detail on income statements, break-even, cash flow, pricing, and taxes.

Cash flow is critical – a business can be “profitable” and still go bankrupt. So, don’t get caught up looking at your income statement over a year and assume the cash will flow. It is critical to look at it monthly and sometimes, depending on payment cycles, even inside the month. Be prepared to navigate through those dips in available cash with savings, lines of credit, etc.

As a finance executive for most of my career, spending the last 11 years of it at Dell, Inc, where metrics and data were the only “truth,” I am pretty obsessed with looking at key measures. As a small business owner, you should measure everything: profitability, balance sheet, and cash-flow statements. In addition, there may be some measures that are unique to your business – identify them and track/measure those that are specific to your customers and product/service. As your business grows, make sure you evolve and expand your metrics so that you are able to understand the state of your business at all times. Those measures may be more operational in nature, but they will affect your financials. It is also important to review your performance and understand the indicators of the future of your business. Ask questions, be wary, and know what you are getting into. If there are areas that you are still uncomfortable with, get help. Don’t be too proud or take too long to “figure it out”.

Make sure you are financially fit at the personal and business level, and remember that EGBI is here to assist you. In fact, we are proud to be part of the Financial Fitness Greater Austin Week, which is coming up April 22-28, 2013.

Financial Fitness Greater Austin (FFGA) is an education and awareness initiative in partnership with the Alliance for Economic Inclusion, Senator Kirk Watson and more than 60 entities in the Greater Austin area. The goal of FFGA is to provide financial awareness and information to the Greater Austin community and emphasize the importance of financial literacy and the need for consumers to be proactive about managing their finances.

EGBI is a partner in the Adult Financial Fitness (FF) Contest, as part of the FFGA. This contest engages participants in actively managing their finances. Participants get to choose between a “CREDIT” or “BUDGET” packet that walks them thru four financial activities. After completing the activities, participants write an essay on how their “new financial knowledge” has made a difference in their lives. Packets are available at EGBI for pickup now thru April 12th (or downlaod them from the FFGA website). Check it out: 1st prize gets $500, 2nd prize gets $300, and 3rd prize gets $200. Join in and demonstrate your fitness! Please email for information and to request a package to participate.

What kind of clients come to EGBI? Client feature: Teresa Valenzuela-Basa

What kind of clients come to EGBI? Client feature: Teresa Valenzuela-Basa

By Al Lopez, February 26, 2013

The diversity of our clients is an element that makes our experience here at EGBI especially interesting and rewarding. At one end of the spectrum, we have folks who don’t yet have a specific business but feel that sometime in the future they will start a business. At the other end, we have clients who already have a business developing, but have reached a point where they realize they really need and want to have a more formal business plan, such was the case of Teresa Valenzuela-Basa.

Teresa arrived in the United States in 1991 as a refugee from Chile. Her passion for art, color, and fashion led to an initial career in jewelry design, which has evolved into a creation of a full line of fashion. Teresa’s strong commitment to her community and heritage inspired her to work with a Chilean Foundation which aims to preserve the colorful art form of horse hair weaving while helping women to become financially independent. Her community involvement includes volunteering at Safeplace, an Austin based nonprofit that empowers women living under family violence.

Teresa is currently in our noon cohort of Building Success Program (BSP). We have covered business topics such as business plan, personal finances/credit, budgeting, pricing, legal structures, taxes and insurance among other. Coming up are sessions on marketing, branding, and using social media for your business. The BSP culminates with each client, including Teresa, presenting a brief summary of their business plan to the class members and the EGBI staff.

Teresa’s designs have been featured at the Texas Campaign for the Environment, Austin Fashion Week, and the 2012 Texas Emmy Awards. She is periodically featured in Univision’s Despierta Austin providing fashion tips. Her first fashion debut, Vento e Sole, takes place on Sunday, March 17th at Ballet Austin. The event benefits Safeplace and Ballet Austin. Tickets can be purchased here.

It is particularly exciting when we see collaboration among our clients. In this case, our client Sugar Fashionista is participating in Teresa’s Vento e Sole event providing their fabulous desserts. We are proud of them, Teresa and other small business owners who call EGBI their “base of support” and look forward to continuing to help them sustain and grow their businesses.

If your current situation is similar to Teresa’s, and you are ready to take your small business to the next level, come to EGBI. Check out our website, sign up for our entrepreneurial training sessions beginning in April and attend our great workshop series in March.

Latina Fashion Designer, Teresa Valenzuela-Basa currently enrolled in EGBI’s Building Success Program

“EGBI is providing guidance and training to enable my business to grow steadily and with solid roots. Their professional team is full of resources and they are dedicated to ensuring small businesses succeed. The support of EGBI is reassuring to business owners. As a fashion designer, I can count on their guidance to surround my company with professionals who are instrumental for running a business in an ethical, productive, effective and efficient manner.”  Teresa Valenzuela-Basa