The Society for the Promotion of Area Resource Centers (SPARC) is one of the largest Indian NGOs working on housing and infrastructure issues for the urban poor. In 1984, when SPARC was formed, it began working with the most vulnerable and invisible of Mumbai's urban poor - the pavement dwellers. SPARC's philosophy is that if we can develop solutions that work for the poorest and most marginalized in the city, then these solutions can be scaled up to work for other groups of the urban poor across the country and internationally.
Since 1986, SPARC has been working in partnership with two community-based organizations the National Slum Dwellers Federation and Mahila Milan. Together, they are known as the Alliance. Today, the Alliance works in about 70 cities in the country and has networks in about 25 countries internationally. Sheela Patel, the Director of SPARC was awarded the Padmashree Award in 2011.
The National Slum Dwellers Federation (NSDF) was founded in the mid 1970s and is a national organization of community groups and leaders who live in slums/informal settlements across India. Its main aim is to mobilize the urban poor to come together, articulate their concerns and find solutions to the problems they face. Today the NSDF works with about half a million households in the country. In 2000, the President and Founder of NSDF, A.Jockin, was awarded the Ramon Magsaysay Award and in 2011 he was honored with the Padmashree Award.
Mahila Milan means "Women Together" in Hindi and is a decentralized network of poor women's collectives that manage credit and savings activities in their communities. Mahila Milan aims to provide a space for women to take on important decision making roles and be recognized for their critical contributions towards improving the lives of their communities. Mahila Milan was initiated in 1986 when 500 women who lived on Mumbai's pavements organized themselves to successfully prevent the demolitions of their homes. Today, Mahila Milan has given out tens of thousands of loans to poor women all across the country and has collected savings worth millions of rupees.