As a community-centered organization, Happy Family Night Market is currently in the process of transitioning from a single-owner LLC to a multi-stakeholder cooperative (co-op).
What is a co-op?
A co-op is an enterprise or organization that is democratically owned and managed by its members. It’s an organizational structure and legal entity that’s different from both traditional for-profit and non-profit structures.
Whereas companies and nonprofits are typically owned and influenced by their biggest investors or donors, in a cooperative model, ownership and decision-making power is shared by all members of the co-op—and is distributed democratically, regardless of the amount of capital an individual invests or donates. The economic and social value generated by the members of a co-op is reinvested into the co-op’s membership, rather than extracted by an organization’s executives, shareholders, or donors. The co-op structure is therefore more equitable, sustainable, and representative of the community it serves.
There are many different types of co-ops, including worker co-ops, consumer co-ops, and producer-co-ops. Happy Family is becoming a multi-stakeholder co-op, which is a combination of all three.
Training & Education
We began this process in 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, we participated in Exit to Community (E2C), an 8-week intensive peer learning cohort for leaders of both for-profit and nonprofit organizations interested in transferring ownership and management of their organizations to the communities they serve.
In 2021, we became a member of the NYC Network of Worker Coops (NYCNoWC) and participated in their 6-month Foundations for Worker Coops program, where we learned about best practices and common challenges for startup co-ops, and the history and principles of the solidarity economy.