The origin of Partners in Change lies in a context of economic change and accelerating globalisation. The year 1991 brought a new era of economic reforms, and adjustments to the roles, responsibilities and expectations of the state, the corporate sector and government organizations. It was while this scenario was unfolding that Action Aid India, an international NGO working in India since 1972, felt the need to intervene. It recognized the corporate sector as a potential key agent of change and decided to strategically and critically engage it in the task of addressing issues of poverty.

Action Aid began by setting up a division called Corporate Partnerships in 1993. Recognizing that working with business needed to be positioned within a larger canvas, it had a mandate that went beyond the direct work of Action Aid. It was decided to promote an autonomous NGO to provide an institutional framework to undertake this work, and as a result, Partners in Change (PiC) was created as a not-for-profit society registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860.

PiC was amongst the first organizations in India dedicated to promoting pro-poor CSR through partnerships. During the first decade PiC received its core funding support from Action Aid India. Other major funders of PiC during its initial years were the Ford Foundation and the Department for International Development (DFID) of the British government. Action Aid India’s support for PiC continued until December 2005.

Since the initial years, PiC has focused its energies on building sustainable partnerships between the corporate sector and social development initiatives in India at that time. PiC has become an organization that is recognized both by companies and civil society as a reliable facilitator for building partnerships for social development.

Over the past two decades, the endeavour has been to hold the corporate sector accountable for its actions while striving to see the larger community as an essential stakeholder in business decisions. In that regard, PiC has collaborated with various organizations to promote socially responsible practices and has come to function as a thought space on responsible business.