• Awarded: 2012
  • Issue Areas: Economic Opportunity · Human Rights · Livelihoods · Peace and Human Rights
  • Region: Southeast Asia
  • Web:
  • About the Organization

    Nidan facilitates the empowerment of poor and marginalized people through community-based and pro-poor participative interventions. They seek to evolve and facilitate a broad-based movement for recognition and implementation of the rights of unorganized laborers – in education, health, livelihoods, and the protection of children working in the informal sector.

    Nidan’s primary target group has always been unorganized workers, be they migrant laborers, street vendors, or rag pickers who don’t benefit from statutory protection against systematic exploitation, and who remain outside the purview of labor welfare and protection policies.

    The organization is guided by the vision of establishing a just, democratic, and non-violent society where citizens enjoy their rights without any discrimination on the basis of gender or class, and live in mutual co-operation.

    Nidan organizes informal workers into legal entities such as associations, cooperatives, self-help groups, and small businesses, thus greatly increasing their bargaining power vis-à-vis the state and the private sector. Programs launched by Nidan have brought together more than 500,000 workers from the informal sector.

    The workers of India’s informal sector represent 93 percent of India’s workforce but are excluded from systems that protect workers’ rights.

    Nidan helps these workers organize, provides legal services, and promotes and incubates profit-making ventures by the urban poor.

    Arbind Singh helps populations traditionally viewed as outside the system advocate successfully for their own development,

    Nidan has helped more than 300,000 urban poor people.

    Ambition for Change

    Populations traditionally viewed as outside the system advocate successfully for their own development, improving policies and gaining access to services and support.

    Path to Scale

    Program Growth

    Nidan plans to expand geographically to serve larger populations in India.

    Business Model

    Supported by international development assistance and philanthropy.

    As a child in northeastern Bihar, Arbind Singh was perplexed by the routine eviction of neighborhood vendors for what to him seemed no fault or crime. After studying sociology and law in New Delhi, he returned to Bihar and discovered a severe lack of social services for the urban poor, with most such organizations focused on improving conditions in rural areas. Arbind launched Nidan (the Hindi word for “solutions”) in 1996 in response to an eviction drive fueled by a new anti-encroachment law and government targeting of slum dwellers, who were unorganized and thus easy targets. Nidan embraces the achuta, or untouchable, and helps others see the invisible workforce that powers India’s economy. Nidan helps them organize, provides legal services, and promotes and incubates profit-making ventures governed and owned by the urban poor. These include Nidan Swachha Dhara Private Limited (NSPL), a nascent waste management collective enterprise owned and controlled by rag pickers and sweepers. Nidan also builds market committees that advocate for worker rights and protection, such as the National Association of Street Vendors of India (NASVI), now a major influence on policy with high-level access to decision makers. At the time of the Award, it had reached nearly half a million people, launched 20 enterprises, formed more than 5,000 collectives, and made $1 million in loans.

    Impact & Accomplishments

    • Cumulative impact since inception includes touching the lives of 300,000 urban poor; engaged 100,000 women in savings programs, home-based work, and cooperative initiatives.
    • Advocacy program for street vendors launched in 2013 ended a daily fee collected from street vendors from the Bhopal municipal government.


    Anurag ShankerProgram Manager, Nidan
    Arbind SinghExecutive Director, Nidan
    Mayank JainManager of Marketing & Communication, Nidan
    Mukut SarmaSr. Program Manager, Nidan

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