North-South Initiative (NSI) is a "Youth-Adult Partnership (YAP)" set up in Malaysia to build collaboration between the northern and southern parts of the country in addressing human rights, social justice, and sustainable development issues. NSI was established in 2011 through a small grant from the British Embassy in Malaysia to run a small training for Patani people in northern Malaysia. In 2015, NSI began to operate autonomously as a full-fledged civil society organization, collaborating with an extended network of community partners - including grassroots migrant groups, farmers, refugees, youth groups. Malaysia receives little international development assistance, and the government provides virtually no funding for CSOs. As a result, NSI has needed to develop an innovative funding model. In addition to receiving small grants from international NGOs, NSI increasingly works through international business alliances to provide services to companies that seek auditing services on the treatment of migrant workers in global supply chains. It is also leveraging a relationship with a university to develop a migrant worker health research network without significant cost. Finally, it generates 20% of its revenue from rental of its office space as a training hall.

Theory of Change

Empowering marginalized and disenfranchised communities based on a rights-based framework can reduce conflict and bring about sustainable, positive change in society.


NSI activities are oriented around an overall goal of ensuring that marginalized communities have direct access to development planning and  other aspects of policy-making  through training and capacity-building activities, NSI undertakes work in four key activities areas: organizing farmers on the impact of globalization, developing capacity-building training on social justice for indigenous youth,  organizing and protecting migrant workers, and training communities on conflict resolution and peace-building.


NSI has improved its financial sustainability through offering contractual services, leveraging a university partnership to lower costs and renting out its office space. In tandem, the organization is filling a gap left by trade unions, which do not typically assist migrant workers. As a result, trade unions have developed a positive view of NSI's work and are increasingly willing to collaborate.