Brooklyn Cooperative provides educational support, tools and banking to support the financial goals of our members. We honor their hard work and determination.
Below you will find some examples of flourishing business and individual members of the community of Brooklyn Cooperative. We look forward to you joining us too!
Pepe Urquijo - B'klyn Burro
Pepe Urquijo is the owner of B’klyn Burro, the premiere provider of San Francisco Mission District style burritos, tacos and quesadillas in New York City. When Pepe moved to NYC from San Francisco to continue his studies as a documentarian, he missed the Mexican food from back home and wasn’t finding any adequate substitutes in New York. In his interactions with other San Francisco natives, Pepe heard from them a common story of hopefulness and eventual disappointment after failed attempts at finding a quality Mexican meal in New York. So Pepe decided to take matters into his own hands. Armed with just a borrowed blender, $1,443 from his tax return, and a craving to fill stomachs, Pepe and his crew set out to transport people's defeated taste buds back home. He pounded the pavement and found many willing establishments to partner with him, providing a space for B’klyn Burro to sell authentic creations. Currently B’klyn Burro partners with 75 different businesses.
Pepe’s first pop-up was on February 16th, 2013 at a bar in Bed-Stuy called One Last Shag. While the conditions were not ideal, Pepe had high hopes. “It snowed that day and we were selling outside, but I still knew we were going to succeed. We cooked, prepared, showed up and everyone else showed up too. There was only one heat lamp working. We were still able to sell all our food. It gave us the confidence to continue, and word spread.” People were in love with his burritos.
B’klyn Burro has a great arrangement with a bar in Williamsburg called Don Pedro's to use their kitchen. One day soon, Pepe hopes to open his own brick and mortar location. B’klyn Burro currently has 5 employees and just celebrated their second year in business.
When looking for financing, Pepe went to the NYC Business Solutions Center to get help with packaging a loan application. They referred him to Brooklyn Cooperative, who gave Pepe a $10,000 loan to purchase some additional supplies needed to continue to grow his business. Pepe commented on his experience with the credit union, saying “I like the personal relationship I get with Brooklyn Coop, at corporate banks I have the feeling like I just want to get out of there”.
To find out where B’klyn Burro will be next check out their info here:
Francisco Curiel - Make the Road New York
Brooklyn Cooperative has established an innovative partnership with Make the Road New York (MRNY) - an important institution for the city’s immigrant population. MRNY advocates for and offers vital civil rights, housing, employment, and health counseling services to new Americans who might otherwise go underserved.
Francisco Curiel is a MRNY member and he came to the credit union though “Fuerza Cooperativa”/”FuerzaC” (or Cooperative Power), our program implemented in partnership with MRNY. FuerzaC helps area residents pay for their MRNY membership fee by offering them a low interest $100 loan. Now that Francisco is a member of MRNY, he’s taken advantage of many of their services. As a Brooklyn Coop member, he can take advantage of all credit union services, such as credit counseling, free or low cost tax prep, workshops, and more.
Francisco is a MRNY “Youth Leader.” For a young man of high school age, Francisco carries himself with great poise. He’s an extremely confident speaker. In his position at MRNY, Francisco uses his personality to organize and inspire his peers to become civically active – from participating in marches to petitioning their local politicians. Mr. Curiel runs workshops, attends community events, and participates in demonstrations to advance urban quality of life causes. He was considering a future as a math teacher, but now that he’s knee deep in community organizing, he wants to work as an activist full time.
Francisco attended Dream University offered by Reform Immigration for America in Washington DC. The program raises awareness about undocumented youth who desire to attend college by publicizing students at teach-ins and direct action events. Mr. Curiel said the experience of taking in classes just down the street from the White House was “Unbelievable.” In our 25-minute interview, he talked about a wide range of topics, from a Pro Soccer job opportunity to methods of mediating difficult conversations. Who knows what the future holds for this bright young man, but we’d put our money on great things!!
Stephen Haff is first and foremost a compelling person. He's also a teacher, activist, director, and entrepreneur! Stephen has been a member with Brooklyn Coop since 2008. He told me that he's always been wary of banks. "(Money) always made me anxious. The Coop is the first place to make me feel comforatable. I'm glad to know the actual people who handle my money".
After years of teaching public school at Bushwick High School, Stephen decided he needed a change. Still Waters in a Storm is that change. He doesn't call Still Waters a "program" or a "center," he refers to it as simply a Room. The room is set up to give Bushwick's children time to decompress and refocus on their lives outside of the school environment. Still Waters offers the kids books, chess, music, art supplies, and open writing sessions. The kids aren't directed or scheduled to follow any set plan. The space is theirs to use as they like.
Still Waters in a Storm is a non-profit organization and Stephen is running some very cool fundraisers. The first is a really interesting and engaging program he calls "Block by Block". On the wall at SWIAS there is a huge map of Bushwick. For donations of $1 per word the children of the program compose poems and short stories to fill the map's blocks of Bushwick. The donations fund the room and provide the kids with inspiration to create!
Leonardo Molina is an up and coming business member at Brooklyn Cooperative. He owns Guacuco, a Venezuelan restaurant in Bushwick. Leonardo came to BCFCU via a recommendation from the Small Business program at Pace University. Initially he tried to get a loan at a national bank, but because of the start-up nature of his business he was quickly denied. This particular institution had been his personal bank for years, but they offered him little courtesy. Then Mr. Molina came to the Coop.
"My favorite thing about being with you (Brooklyn Coop) is how straight forward you are" says Molina. "There is no beating around the bush, and I love people here." Working with Jahaira Guerrero our Small Enterprise Development Director at the Bedford-Stuyvesant branch, Leonardo was able to obtain the loan he needed to get Guacuco up and running.
When I asked Leonardo if he'd recommend us to a friend, he replied: "I already have!" This was a restaurant owner he previously worked for who was looking to open a local restaurant, but she couldn't find financing. And again the Coop was able to provide great service, offering her the loan she needed.
If you find yourself looking for a great brunch this weekend, try Guacuco at 44 Irving St.