Anshu Gupta

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Anshu Gupta
EducationIndian Institute of Mass Communication
Alma materIndian Institute of Mass Communication, New Delhi
Occupation(s)Founder 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. He founded the non-governmental organization Goonj.[1] Goonj works on bridging urban and rural inequality. It does this by channelizing the urban surplus to initiate rural upliftment, disaster relief, and rehabilitation. Through Goonj, Anshu is building a parallel trash-based economy by creating barter between rural communities and urban surplus material.[2] Anshu has been recognized by the Ramon Magsaysay foundation for his "creative vision in transforming the culture of giving in India".[3]

Early life[edit]

Anshu Gupta was born in Meerut. He spent his early years in Chakrata, Banbasa while his father was posted there in the Indian Army's Military Engineer Services (MES).


He worked as a freelance journalist after completing his schooling. He wrote about history, monuments and humanitarian issues. From 1992 to 1998, he worked with many organizations. He worked as a copywriter with Chaitra followed by Power Grid Corporation, and finally Escorts Communication.[4]


Using cloth as a metaphor for other crucial but ignored needs, his ideology stated that roti, kapda, makaan are the three most essential individual needs. The first two are always in focus, but clothing never received the attention it deserved but is essential in maintaining individual dignity.[2] In 1999, he started Goonj with his wife Meenakshi and friends to work on that basic need. He started with 67 pieces of cloth collected with his wife and friends, at their home in Sarita Vihar. The firm spread across 28 states and over 4000 villages, employing over 1000 workers.[4]

"Clothing is the first visible sign of poverty".[5] It is essential to satisfy basic clothing needs. Under Anshu's leadership, Goonj has taken ever-growing urban waste and used it as a tool to trigger development work on diverse issues in remote areas of India.

Cloth for Work[edit]

Under Goonj's initiative 'Cloth for Work', village communities across India work on their issues and get urban material for their efforts. The focus is on dignity and how cloth can help defend that dignity. Cloth for Work and other Goonj initiatives have received various national and international recognition.[6] Goonj helps victims during natural calamities such as floods and earthquakes.[7]

He is popularly known as the clothing man of India for his achievement bringing clothing into the map of development work.[8]

In "Cloth for Work", communities have built huge bamboo bridges, dug up wells, have done bunding of acres of land, developed small irrigation canals, have built drainage systems, built village schools and have taken up massive exercises of repairing roads, developing water harvesting systems to cleaning up water bodies. All these works are done but by making people understand their own community power and giving old usable old material as a reward.[9][10]

School to School[edit]

Goonj's award-winning School to School initiative is addressing the educational needs of thousands of remote & resource starved village/ slum schools by channelizing under-utilised material of city's affluent schools not as a thing to distribute but as a tool to bring about comprehensive behaviour change in the recipients and the contributors.[11]

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 ...".[9] It is seen that in the absence of a clean piece of cloth, millions of women in villages and city slums use rags, sand, ash, etc. to deal with their menses. A humble piece, of cotton cloth can save a woman from a lot of indignity, embarrassment and infections.[12]


An earthquake in Uttarkashi triggered Gupta's involvement with disaster relief and rehabilitation. For nearly two decades, he has been working on disasters from earthquakes to tsunamis, cyclones, and floods. Goonj's initiative "Rahat" evolved into an active network of stakeholders in rural and urban India, ensuring timely response for generating need-based disaster relief and rehabilitation efforts.[13]



  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. ^ "Gupta, Anshu – The Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation – Honoring greatness of spirit and transformative leadership in Asia". Retrieved 21 April 2023.
  4. ^ a b SINHA, PRASHANT (16 August 2014). ""The Clothing Man", Interview with Anshu Gupta, Founder – Goonj". InsideIIM. Retrieved 27 January 2022.
  5. ^ Gupta, Anshu (September 2017), Giving it Forward, retrieved 27 January 2022
  6. ^ "Anshu Gupta: Changed the culture of giving in India". The Indian Express. 30 July 2015. Retrieved 27 January 2022.
  7. ^ Rout, Srinibas (29 July 2015). "10 things to know about Magsaysay award winner Anshu Gupta of Goonj". Business Standard India. Retrieved 27 January 2022.
  8. ^ a b Goldapple, Lisa (1 March 2021). "India's 'Clothing Man' goes beyond cloth". Retrieved 30 March 2021.
  9. ^ a b c "Anshu Gupta – Goonj Founder Who Taught India The Joy of Giving". 3 October 2016.
  10. ^ "Donation is About the Receiver's Dignity: Magsaysay Award-Winner Anshu Gupta". NDTV. 29 July 2015.
  11. ^ Staff Reporter (18 February 2020). "Goonj launches 'School to School' scheme in Coimbatore". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 21 April 2023.
  12. ^ Singh, Ankita (12 April 2022). "Circular Economy & Not Just A Piece of Cloth". Retrieved 21 April 2023.
  13. ^ 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.
  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. ^ "Real Heroes Awards Given to Ashoka Fellows | Ashoka | Everyone a Changemaker". Retrieved 27 January 2022.
  17. ^ Aditi (13 November 2012). "Goonj wins 'social entrepreneur' award". The Hindu.
  18. ^ "Awardees". Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship. Retrieved 26 November 2023.
  19. ^ "Anshu Gupta". IdeaFestival – Stay Curious. 9 August 2017. Retrieved 27 January 2022.
  20. ^ "AIMA Public Service Excellence Award". Retrieved 27 January 2022.
  21. ^ Foundation, Marico Innovation. "New-age Innovators and Change-makers of India Recognised at the 7th Edition of Marico Innovation Foundation Awards" (Press release). PR Newswire. Retrieved 4 February 2022.