Anshu Gupta

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Anshu Gupta
Anshu Gupta (8).jpg
Meerut, Uttar Pradesh
EducationIndian Institute of Mass Communication
Alma materIndian Institute of Mass Communication, New Delhi
OccupationFounder Director, Goonj
Known forFounder and director of Goonj and Gram Swabhimaan
AwardsRamon 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.[1] 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.[2]  


Anshu was born in Meerut. He spent his early years in Chakrata, Banbasa due to his father being posted there at his job with the Indian Army's Military Engineer Services (MES).

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.[3]

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.[3] 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.[2]

"Clothing is the first visible sign of poverty",[4] 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.[5] Goonj also helps to bridge the gap between victims during natural calamities like floods, earthquakes with donors.[6]

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.[7]

Cloth for Work[edit]

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.[8][9] Now the initiative is referred to as 'Dignity for Work'.[10]

Not Just a Piece of Cloth[edit]

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 ...".[8]


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.[11]

Awards and recognitions[edit]


  1. ^ a b Rout, Srinibas (29 July 2015). "10 things to know about Magsaysay award winner Anshu Gupta of Goonj". Business Standard India. Retrieved 30 March 2021.
  2. ^ a b "Meet The Man Who Has Changed The Way We Look at Giving". Retrieved 27 January 2022.
  3. ^ a b SINHA, PRASHANT (16 August 2014). ""The Clothing Man", Interview with Anshu Gupta, Founder – Goonj". InsideIIM. Retrieved 27 January 2022.
  4. ^ Gupta, Anshu (September 2017), Giving it Forward, retrieved 27 January 2022
  5. ^ "Anshu Gupta: Changed the culture of giving in India". The Indian Express. 30 July 2015. Retrieved 27 January 2022.
  6. ^ Rout, Srinibas (29 July 2015). "10 things to know about Magsaysay award winner Anshu Gupta of Goonj". Business Standard India. Retrieved 27 January 2022.
  7. ^ a b Goldapple, Lisa (1 March 2021). "India's 'Clothing Man' goes beyond cloth". Retrieved 30 March 2021.
  8. ^ a b c "Anshu Gupta – Goonj Founder Who Taught India The Joy Of Giving". 3 October 2016.
  9. ^ "Donation is About the Receiver's Dignity: Magsaysay Award-Winner Anshu Gupta". NDTV. 29 July 2015.
  10. ^ "'What matters most is the will and intent to do good'". Tata Trusts. Retrieved 27 January 2022.
  11. ^ S, Kishan Rao A. (30 June 2020). "Dignity, Not Charity: How Goonj's Three-Point Plan Is Transforming Relief Measures In Crisis-Hit Areas". Retrieved 27 January 2022.
  12. ^ "Real Heroes Awards Given to Ashoka Fellows | Ashoka | Everyone a Changemaker". Retrieved 27 January 2022.
  13. ^ Aditi (13 November 2012). "Goonj wins 'social entrepreneur' award". The HIndu.
  14. ^ Jatin Anand and Kritika Sharma Sebastian (29 July 2015). "Sanjeev Chaturvedi, Anshu Gupta win Ramon Magsaysay Award". The Hindu.
  15. ^ Foundation, Ramon Magsaysay Award. "2015 Ramon Magsaysay Awardees Announced". RMAF. Archived from the original on 31 July 2015. Retrieved 29 July 2015.
  16. ^ "Anshu Gupta". IdeaFestival - Stay Curious. Retrieved 27 January 2022.
  17. ^ "AIMA Public Service Excellence Award". Retrieved 27 January 2022.
  18. ^ Foundation, Marico Innovation. "New-age Innovators and Change-makers of India Recognised at the 7th Edition of Marico Innovation Foundation Awards". Retrieved 4 February 2022.