SSI originally known as Industrial Service Institute (ISI) of Nagpur emerged from the recommendations by a visiting team from East Asia Christian Conference (now known as CCA) to NCCI and a subsequent consultation at Panchmari in 1961. This was the time when the undivided central province was getting divided and that paved the way for the emergence of state of Maharashtra. At the same time Nagpur was getting industrialized. The TATA owned Model and Empress Mills began to attract migrants from the neighbouring regions. It was during this time under the auspices of ISI, 15 trade unions were formed to organize several working class struggles.
This period (1967 - 73) also witnessed a group of Christians working with rickshaw pullers, which later got broad based into a full-fledged movemen lead by the I.S. (ICNI-SSI). 'Gulab Baba, who was appointed as Coordinator played a vital role in coordinating the movement. The primary leadership of the movement was given to the rickshaw pullers themselves. Madan Bhai, played a charismatic role in leading the movement. As many as 18000 rickshaw pullers came together to voice their concerns demanding ownership of their rickshaws - popularizing the slogan of chalak-malak (one who runs also owns). The culmination of rickshaw pullers movement was seen in April 1980 when the trade unions succeeded in getting the Maharashtra government to amend the Public Vehicle Act of 1920. While this Act stipulated that rickshaw pullers (chalaks) could become malaks, its implementation was blocked at every level. The credit for this movement goes to Late Bishop R.S.Bhandare the founder President, and Rev.Karim David the founder Director of SSI.
In the year 1982 the I.S.I was registered as CNI-SSI spreading its wings to work with the poor and unemployed youths through vocational skill development trainings, and women in rural and urban areas. As the organization pursued its call as an ecumenical venture, it has been successful in equipping 18,000 youths with vocational skills over a period of 25 years. The women's empowerment has been a success story in rural and urban areas and 1500 women are part of the wider family of CNI-SSI through 78 active Self Help Groups. Presently, the emphasis is laid on the liberation and rehabilitation of street children and child labourers in and around Nagpur, while spreading the movement to many other parts of North India. The CNI-SSI has established six contact points in the city, and one "Night Shelter" in the CNI-SSI campus for the street children.