Ms. Sheela Patel is the founder-director of the Society for Promotion of Area Resource Centres (SPARC), an NGO that has been working since 1984 to support community organizations of the urban poor in their efforts to access secure housing and basic amenities and seek their right to the city. She is also a founder member and chair of the board of Slum Dwellers International (SDI), an international network of poor people’s organizations and the NGOs that support them in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, and is currently its chairperson. She is widely recognized for relentlessly seeking to place urgent issues of urban poverty, housing, and infrastructure on the radar of governments, bilateral and international agencies, foundations and other organizations.
SPARC has been working in alliance with two Community Based Organizations, the National Slum Dwellers Federation (NSDF) and Mahila Milan (women’s collectives in slums) that are active in 70 cities in different states of India. Since 1999, she has also been secretary and chief executive of SPARC Samudaya Nirman Sahayak (SSNS), a non-profit company set up to assist slum communities themselves to take on construction projects in cities to provide slum dwellers with homes and sanitation facilities.