During the early period of the Non-Governmental Organizations, the mainstream NGOs in Bangladesh concentrated on rural social mobilization to challenge the power structure which brought a strong backlash from the rural elites particularly during the martial law. This was one of the reasons why there was a general move by the NGOs away from working on social mobilization and towards micro-credit.
This concentration allowed professionalization of NGOs and increased the tendency of measuring progress in terms of money and quantity. However, a number of people working in leading NGOs felt that consciousness raising of the poor held the key to resolving the core problems of rural society.
Nijera Kori with its current form and focus was formed in 1980 by a group of such people who had started working on rural social mobilization at field level and felt that the increasingly service-based approach of NGOs would simply create dependency among the target population. Nijera Kori began to concentrate on addressing the situation which causes poverty and destitution of rural people rather than temporarily ameliorating, and that too at a surface level, the suffering of those who faced such circumstances.
The organizational objectives of Nijera Kori shifted to the struggle to create a society free from oppression and deprivation through the establishment of the fundamental rights of the people. In order to achieve this goal, the strategy that Nijera Kori developed was to make people conscious of their rights and to assist them to develop the collective strength necessary to establish those rights. Under this goal, the target group of Nijera Kori also expanded from its original concentration. Now Nijera Kori defines its target group broadly as those women and men who earn their living mainly through physical labor. Its geographical concentration has an emphasis on rural rather than urban areas.
As per the figures in March 2008 the organisation has 275,782 group members, of whom more than half are women. It has a staff of 348 in the programme and administration section, out of which 126 are female and 222 are male. The support staff, consisting of both women and men, totals 111. Our programmes are operational in 17 districts of Bangladesh.