[2017 Asia Policy Dialogue]: Goonj

SSE Organisation
Urban & Rural Regeneration / Community
Environment / Food
Social Service / Employment

Organisation: Goonj

Country: India

Year Founded: 1999

Founder: Anshu Gupta

Goonj is a Not for Profit social enterprise based in Delhi, India, working in various sectors such as disaster relief, humanitarian aid and community development across India. Annually, Goonj upcycles over 3,000 tons of urban discard and transforms surplus wastes into necessities such as clothes and sanitary pads for underprivileged people in rural areas across more than 21 states of India. Goonj’s work is not only about collecting and distributing materials through a charity channel (urban donation – rural distribution), but also incentivising rural communities to identify their local problems by themselves, after that initiate various community development programmes such as digging wells, repairing roads and cleaning ponds. In return, Goonj rewards the communities with clothes and necessities. The notability of Goonj is first, the establishment of a charity channel to connect urban surplus to rural areas where poverty is at its worst. Goonj acts as a middleman by upcycling surplus / underutilised materials and incentivising rural communities to resolve their local problems by encouraging the voluntary organisation of local development projects. Every year, more than 500 infrastructure projects across 1,500 villages are organised through Goonj.

[photo from www.inhabitat.com]

List of Goonj’s main activities

Cloth for work - People in rural areas identify and work on their varied issues-repairing roads, cleaning ponds, digging wells to making big bamboo bridges. They are rewarded for their efforts with need-based material in the form of comprehensive family packs.

Not just a piece of cloth - Using an urban discarded cloth to make and reach MY Pads as a tool to open up the most taboo subject of menstrual hygiene; breaking the culture of shame and silence around this basic.

School to School - Filling the critical gaps in education by giving out unutilized urban material to resource-starved village/slum schools, informal setups, not as charity but as a motivation/reward for behaviour and learning changes.

Rahat- Turning massive disaster wastage into a resource for development work. Right from Gujarat earthquake to Tsunami, Bihar floods (2008), Andhra floods, Uttarakhand floods, etc.


[photo from the magazine 'the top 10 of Asia']

About the founder: Anshu Gupta

Popularly known as the Clothing Man, Anshu is the Founder of an Indian nonprofit–Goonj. One of India’s leading social entrepreneurs Anshu brings to the table an instinctive empathy and connect with people, moving the focus from the conventional - giver’s pride to the unconventional - receiver’s dignity. Asia’s Noble, the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay award 2015, conferred to him credited him for ‘his creative vision in transforming the culture of giving in India, his enterprising leadership in treating cloth as a sustainable development resource for the poor, and in reminding the world that true giving always respects and preserves human dignity’. Anshu has done his Mass communications twice and earned his masters in Economics. He first began as a freelance journalist, but left the corporate job in 1998 and founded GOONJ with the mission of bringing clothing in the development discourse. Today he is credited to initiate a parallel economy, which is not cash based but trash based. Anshu is a Schwab and Ashoka Fellow and was also listed by Forbes as one of the most powerful rural entrepreneurs.’

Interview with the founder

Get to know more about Goonj (Interview with Anshu Gupta by the GSEF team):