CIE Announces New Cooperative Incubator Program

Press Release

CIE Announces New Cooperative Incubator Program

Members are currently being recruited for King County’s first Cottage Food Cooperative

Seattle, January 3, 2017:  The Center for Inclusive Entrepreneurship (CIE) is currently recruiting members for its first cooperative incubation project – the development of a Cottage Food and Small Food Business Cooperative. CIE’s cooperative incubator is an innovative new program that empowers individuals in low-income and underserved communities to work together to learn about entrepreneurship, access economic opportunity and build resilient and sustainable community wealth.

A Cottage Food business is a business that allows cooks to sell certain foods prepared in their own homes, on their own time and schedules. Businesses can sell their baked goods, jams, spice and nut mixes, and other products at farmers’ markets, through pop-up markets, and other in-person events. These businesses can make up to $25,000 in revenue each year while using the business as a low-cost first step business opportunity that can increase household income while testing out markets for products and learning about entrepreneurship and business management.

The Problem: Even though the cost to start a Cottage Food business are low, there are expenses and chores that each business must tackle: business management, accounting, marketing and sales—on top of making the products to sell. A Cottage Food business is by definition small, so it is not possible to buy ingredients at bulk rate discounts. This limits profits. Because Cottage Food businesses must sell directly to their customers rather than through wholesale distributors, business owner often struggle to find time for marketing and sales. And any sole proprietor will attest to the challenge of isolation.  

The Solution: We are currently incubating a service cooperative organized with, and for the benefit of, a group of new independent Cottage Food business owners, which will be in operation by early 2017. Members of the cooperative will have access to our training on cooperatives, entrepreneurship, and small-scale food business management, as well as back office support in setting up record and book keeping systems, managing finances, developing their products, and developing their brand and marketing strategies and materials. We will help members get their home kitchens certified, help them access bulk sale pricing for locally and sustainably produced ingredients, and coordinate marketing opportunities where members can cross-sell for each other. Mentorship and peer-support are built into the design. Co-op membership is competitive and is currently limited to CIE clients; please contact us to apply or for information on how to become a member.

To keep up to date on this project, please follow CIE’s Facebook page at or visit

Contact Information: Kerrie Carbary, Program Manager • kerrie.carbary@cie-nw.or