Nijera Kori with its current form and focus was formed in 1980 by a group of people who had started working on rural social mobilisation at the 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.
Nijera Kori is, in many ways, a unique organisation within the universe of NGOs in Bangladesh. It began out as a privately initiated response by an expatriate nutritionist working with a development agency to the distress of destitute rural women who migrated into Dhaka city in the aftermath of the 1974 famine. In this early phase, it was a relief-oriented initiative, providing food, shelter and income-generating skills to these women.