After InnoAid co-created an educational toolkit with 700 street food vendors in Kolkata, India, from 2011 to 2013, in 2014 we continue our efforts to support the process of recognition and formalization of the street food vending sector at a State level by first building the street food vendors’ capacity to align with the National Act of Urban Street Vendors.

Street food • India • Civil rights • Hygiene • Livelihood • Empowerment

Street food vending plays an important socio-economic role in today’s India and it provides jobs for many low income families. In Kolkata, West Bengal, approximately 130.000 street food vendors daily provide food for nearly 7.8 million people.  Despite the socio-economic and cultural importance of street vending in India, this business is threatened by claims that such vending constitutes a major source of food-borne diseases and that the vendors’ workspace enable urban visions for city planning and beautification. Furthermore, street vending has until now been considered as an informal business sector and has, for the past decades, been victim of harassments from local authorities.

InnoAid has initiated the project to address the challenges threatening the livelihood of the vendors, and low income costumers, by developing a “Street Food Vendors’ Toolkit”: a set of technical and non-technical sustainable solutions that seek to enable local, lower income, Indian entrepreneurs to comply with the 2014 National Act for Urban Street Vendors. The ”Street Food Vendors Toolkit” will include open source designs and training materials regarding improvement of the vendors workspace, creation of self help groups, hygiene, sanitation and waste management.

The Street Food Vendors’ Toolkit is a product of an innovative approach of involving the first NGOs to ever work strategically with the street food vendors in Kolkata and developing solutions from a participatory bottom-up-approach. Solutions have been developed from the ideas and aspirations of the vendors themselves, through continues co-creation sessions initiated by a cross-disciplinary project team of academics and practitioners within the field of engineering, business and public health. The project team is working towards both integrating the interests and ideas of the vendors and relevant local policy makers to ensure that the project will build local ownership at the level of implementation as well as to align and influence strategies of the local authorities. Only by meeting the needs and conditions at both street- and state level will the project develop a sustainable model to secure and strengthen the livelihood of the vendors.

The current project is structured in 3 initiatives, which are at the same time complementary in contributing to the overall development objective but with separated objectives:

  • Initiative 1:Continue and develop the support to previous involved vendors (~600) in the process of alignment with the national act, supporting formalization  and self-regulatory activities, implementing new solutions, learning from other models, while actively engaging with local authorities;
  • Initiative 2: Create and test a number of different income-generating activities that aim at improving vendors’ livelihood by piloting linkages with rural sustainable, biological and social products (safe/hygienic spices, bio-degradable plates, fresh products), and by piloting entrepreneurial activities involving family members
  • Initiative 3: Implement workshops and vendors’ toolkit developed, following same participatory approach in new, central and unionized areas, to support the livelihood and process of recognition and formalization. The initiative will impact ~1,000 vendors and will be part of a necessary strategic action towards evidence-based advocacy at especially the level of KMC (Kolkata Municipality Corporation). To achieve this we are partnering with researchers from universities in Belgium and US to help assess the impact of the program through a randomized control trial.

May 2015: The Project is shortlisted for the WAF Award 2015



Toolkit for External Stakeholders - a publication introducing the learnings from past two years of project implementation in Kolkata.

Project period: December 2008 > ongoing

Status: Implementing large-scale development project (funding period: 1st July 2014 to 31st December 2016)

Target group: Semi-mobile male and female street food vendors who are selling cooked street food

Target area & country: Urban metropolis Kolkata in India



For more information about the project, please contact the project team:


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