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Arbind Singh

An activist and a social entrepreneur, he has been empowering informal workers by getting new laws ,polices and programs and by securing their access to markets, financial services and technology. Organizing the informal workers across India has been his forte along with building collaborations to set up new models of development of informal workers . He played a pioneer role in getting a Street Vendors Act in India which empowers millions of street vendors against eviction and harrassment .He was elected as Ashoka and Eisenhower Fellow in 2007. He was awarded the Social Entrepreneur of the Year 2008 by the Schwab Foundation at World Economic Forum. He was also awarded at the first innovation forum set up by the Govt of Bihar in 2007. In 2012, Skoll Foundation awarded him with Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship. . Recently in 2018 , he was one oft he 7 Finalist from 800 nominations at the The Eliasson Global Leadership Prize of The Tialberg Foundation , Sweden .He heads Nidan and is also the National Coordinator of National Association of Street Vendors of India (NASVI) n

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Hybrid Social Enterprise
Cities and Urbanization; Human Rights
Areas of Impact
South Asia, India


Nidan builds profitable businesses and organizations led by workers from the informal sector, including waste workers, rag pickers, vegetable vendors, construction labourers, domestic helpers, farmers and street traders. It does this by tapping into the wealth of the poor, primarily their numerical strength, and then aggregates them into economies of scale. This process of “collectivizing” generates social capital, representation and a voice for the poor, which they then leverage to launch their own businesses.

Businesses launched by Nidan have brought together workers from the informal sector and positioned them as legitimate competitors in markets. Each group is a nascent enterprise to be mentored until it emerges as an independent identity and registers profit curves. Every enterprise is decentralized and independent, with growth and operations left entirely to shareholders. Most are large enough to affect significant policy shift. As an example, the Nidan-initiated National Association of Street Vendors of India (NASVI), with its 10,00,000 members across 25 states, has successfully lobbied for the passage of the Act for Urban Vendors, a first for the country.

Most significantly, Nidan is returning a culture of accountability and honest enterprise to underdeveloped states and organizations of informal workers. Its contracts are secured without bribes and at competitive market rates. This has solidified the confidence of the poorest in transparency and collective action. Nidan has also made forays into skill development and fortified food for preschool children.


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