This article may require copy editing for grammar, style, cohesion, tone, or spelling. (October 2021)
Meerut, Uttar Pradesh
|Education||Indian Institute of Mass Communication|
|Alma mater||Indian Institute of Mass Communication, New Delhi|
|Occupation||Founder Director, Goonj|
|Known for||Founder and director of Goonj and Gram Swabhimaan|
|Awards||Ramon Magsaysay Award 2015 |
Ashoka Fellowship 2004
Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award 2012
Anshu Gupta is an Indian entrepreneur who founded the non-governmental organization Goonj. Goonj works on bridging the gap between urban and rural inequality. It does this by channelizing the urban surplus to initiate rural uplift, disaster relief, and rehabilitation. Through Goonj, Anshu has built the genesis of a parallel trash-based economy by creating barter between efforts of rural communities and urban surplus material as two new currencies.
Anshu started as a freelance journalist after completing his schooling. He used to write about history, monuments and humanitarian issues. From 1992 to 1998, he worked with many reputed organizations. His professional journey started as a copywriter with Chaitra followed by Power Grid Corporation, and the last organization he served was Escorts Communication.
He realized that one of the needs of human beings is clothing, which for the poor people is often overlooked. So in the year 1999, he started Goonj, with his wife Meenakshi and a few friends to work on the basic need of clothing. He started Goonj with just 67 pieces of cloth collected first with his wife and friends, at their home in Sarita Vihar. Today it is spread across 28 states and present in over 4000 villages employing over 1000 people. Using cloth as a metaphor for other crucial but ignored needs, his ideology being that roti, kapda, makaan are the three most essential needs of an individual. The first two are always in focus, clothing has never received the attention it deserved but is essential in maintaining the "dignity" of an individual.
"Clothing is the first visible sign of poverty", it is essential to provide people with the basic clothing needs. Under Anshu's leadership, Goonj has taken the growing urban waste and used it as a tool to trigger development work on diverse issues in backward and remote pockets of India. Under Goonj's flagship initiative 'Cloth for Work', village communities across India work on their issues and get the urban material as a reward for their efforts. Now referred to as "dignity for work", the focus is on the aspect of dignity and how cloth can help in achieving the dignity of an individual. Cloth for work and all other initiatives of Goonj have received various national and international awards. Goonj also helps to bridge the gap between victims during natural calamities like floods, earthquakes with donors.
He is popularly known as the clothing man of India for his mission of bringing ignored basics like clothing into the mapping of development work.
Cloth for Work
In "Cloth for Work", villagers work to dig wells, clean ponds, repair roads, and build schools in the community using local resources, for which they are compensated with material resources like clothing, utensils, furniture, and food grains. Now the initiative is referred to as 'Dignity for Work'.
Not Just a Piece of Cloth
Anshu initiated the "Not Just a Piece of Cloth" campaign after the 2004 tsunami. According to him, "we dealt with more than 100 tracks of post-disaster cloth wastage on the roads of Tamil Nadu. The unwearable cloth from this lot was turned into cloth menstrual pads ...".
An earthquake in Uttarkashi led to Anshu's continuing interest and involvement with disaster relief and rehabilitation. For nearly two decades, he has been working on varied disasters from earthquakes to tsunamis, cyclones, floods, etc. Goonj's initiative "Rahat" has evolved into an active, reliable and time-tested network of stakeholders in both rural and urban India, ensuring timely response for generating need-based disaster relief and rehabilitation efforts.
Awards and recognitions
- 2004: Ashoka and Schwab Fellowship
- 2009: CNN IBN Real Heroes award in the women welfare segment
- 2012: Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award by Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship
- 2012: Forbes magazine listed Gupta as one of India's most powerful rural entrepreneurs
- 2015: Ramon Magsaysay Award.
- 2017: Curry stone design prize
- 2018: AIMA (All India Management Association) Award
- 2020: Marico Innovation Award
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