The eldest among four siblings, he came from a big middle-class family with limited resources. His
upbringing taught him the relevance of making the most of the little. An understanding further imbibed
from his mother who has played a profound influence in his life. A brilliant mind, he studied journalism
as well as Advertising & Public Relations from Indian Institute of Mass Communication, and then
Masters in Economics. While still a graduate student in 1991, he traveled to Uttarkashi, North India
after a major earthquake. Missing out on his classes, he lived in tents for days and helped in the relief
efforts. This shocked his urban sensibilities. After completing his studies, he joined the corporate
sector. Insatiate, he craved for that feeling of satisfaction that went beyond one’s personal goal and
self-interest. His longing to give back to society, do something different to benefit thousands and
involve people’s participation inspired an idea. He ultimately left Escorts as Manager, Corporate
Communications in 1998 to work full time on his idea.
Goonj, his dream for many years, was set up in the same year. From collecting clothes from his own
house, relatives and friends and distributing them on the roads in the chilly winter nights of Delhi, his
dream has come a long way. He has organized an effective distribution channel for disposing off
reusable resources lying in urban, well-off households.
Through shifting surplus urban resources to some of the poverty-stricken rural areas, he is making a
difference in the lives of thousands who lack the basic resources needed for survival. He has
witnessed cases where a few pieces of clothing has freed up meager resources of the poor for more
pressing needs and families being saved from a debt cycle for borrowing to buy clothes before a
festival or even as a dire necessity. Clothes do not involve heavy investments, but protect millions
from extreme weather, shelter the homeless from the elements. His nationwide movement
‘Vastradaan’ is geared toward this end. Working with local grassroots organization operating in rural
areas, Goonj has built a network of about 60 distribution partners with bases in West Bengal, Assam,
Uttaranchal, Kashmir and Jharkhand.
His uniqueness lies in thinking and putting in place an efficient, systematic distribution channel on a
nationwide scale and the establishment of a nodal agency for generating vital resources for the rural
poor. His idea is also the first effort where instead of focusing on a limited target group or limited
product, he is trying to spread awareness at such a level that anytime an urban household thinks of
disposing off reusable materials it is aware of a channel to its fullest utilization. His organization Goonj
has a strong network of 300 Volunteers, works with corporate houses, schools, transporters, resident
welfare associations, neighborhood communities and local grassroots organizations working in rural
areas. Though Vastradaan operates as a continuous process, a part of his strategy has been also to
focus on disaster preparedness. The idea is to spread the network in such a way that any time a
disaster strikes, Goonj can reach them the relief material at the earliest. It made a difference in
Gujarat riots where Goonj was able to collect truckloads of material within a few days’ time and
support thousands. Beginning with 67 items of clothing from his own closet to initiate Vastradaan, he
has been sending 3,000-5,000 kg of material every month. He has already reached out and benefited
lakhs of people. He has meticulously linked the urban affluent and the rural poor. His idea tends to
bridge the gap between the supply that exists due to the urban phenomena like space constraints and
rising consumerism on one hand and demands for basic commodities that exists with millions in the
country. His aim is to ultimately make large-scale resource mobilization a reality and to further apply
his model with clothing to other critical resources such as medicines, books.
He inspires many in the revered eighteen-day national odyssey, Tata JagritiYatra. He is a change
maker. He is an Ashoka Fellow. Dear reader, he is Anshu Gupta, the Founder of Goonj.
Join hands with GOONJ for 'VASTRA-SAMMAN' as a part of 'Joy of
Submitted by Smitha on Sep 20, 2009 | Tags:
Email this page
Read the complete story at:
People are calling it one of its kind campaign in the world and it might become the largest material
collection drive ever..
GOONJ, is a voluntary organisation, known as one of the first organization worldwide to take up ‘Clothing” as
a development subject. In the last ten years, GOONJ has been channelising the urban India’s underutilized
material like clothing, school material, cloth sanitary napkins etc as development resources in far-flung
villages of India.
GOONJ is initiating VASTRA-SAMMAN (dignifying clothing) a pan India campaign, to raise awareness & collect
about one crore (10 million) units of material in the 'Joy of Giving Week' being celebrated across India
from 27th Sept. to 3rd Oct
This means you will find thousands of kids getting school material, thousands of women getting napkins and
also hundreds of roads getting repaired, lakhs of trees being planted, work on water bodies etc. across the
country where people will receive this material as reward as a part of 'Cloth for work'.
Similar to earlier drives, we seek your active participation/contribution to this drive also, to make it a success.
Do visit http://www.goonj.info/Final_VASTRA-SAMMAN_-Sept.pdf for more details about 'VASTRA-SAMMAN'
and how you can help for this cause.
Please note the following:
1) Individuals who would like to donate material can contact me directly during the campaign.2) Individuals
who are interested to volunteer need to contact me at the earliest.3) Corporates/Organizations interested to
participate should confirm before planning a collection drive, since I need to plan storage space for your
4) Most of you who have interacted with me know that I am also working, so please call me before you come
home for donation or before you take up any mass initiative.
Looking forward for your support in spreading awareness about this campaign.
Thanks and Regards,Smitha
(Bangalore GOONJ volunteer)
PS:More info about GOONJ and 'Joy of Giving' week is available
at www.goonj.info and http://joyofgivingweek.org/ respectively.
Goonj, a volunteer-run recycling center in New Delhi—profiled in our short film “Not Just a Piece
of Cloth”—was recently awarded the Indian NGO of the year award.
In April 2007, we spent a day at the Goonj headquarters talking with founder and director Anshu
Gupta, who along with more than 300 individual volunteers and 100 grassroots agencies
recycles and distributes over 20,000 kgs of material throughout India. Not only does Goonj
collect and distribute large quantities of ready-to-go recycled materials, like clothing and
blankets, but they also specialize in creative alterations, like children's backpacks made from old
jeans, school notebooks from discarded paper and sanitary napkins from sheets and cloth.
Watch our short film "Not Just a Piece of Cloth" and then go to the Goonj website to learn more
about their innovative project and how you cancontribute.
Mumbai: Over the years, many non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have sprung to take up the cause of
bread and butter and esoteric issues like food, shelter, global warming and education.
A handful of them are into provision of clothing for the underprivileged. NGO Goonj is
a distinctive resource mobilisation initiative providing clothes to millions in distant
Goonj is the brainchild of Anshu Gupta and was started in 1998 with just 67 clothes.
Now it sends out over 20,000 kg of material every month.
The philosophy of Goonj revolves around how one person's rags can indeed become
someone else's necessities, especially in the context of India's gigantic urban-rural
divide where more than 35% of the population lives below poverty line.
The NGO convinces people to donate old clothes, which are to be thrown away, the
organisation processes them into finished garments. For example, tattered rags are
processed into garments like socks etc.
What started as a small initiative on a chilly night in Delhi, has now spread its wings
across 21 states in the country. The idea is to enable widespread distribution centres
reaching scores of needy people.
The NGO has around 15 collection centres in the city alone. "We are overwhelmed
by the response. Our first centre was set up in Andheri in November 2006 and now
we have spread all across the city," says Rohit Singh, Goonj's Mumbai coordinator.
Each collection centre in a state looks after the neighbourhood areas. Collections
from Mumbai are sent to central and western parts of the country.
The collection is sorted, restitched and distributed. Wearable clothes are sent to
villages, worn out clothes are used to make quilts and sanitary pads for village
women. "No piece of cloth is wasted. In villages sometimes, women share a piece of
cloth during menstrual cycles which is unhealthy," adds Singh.
Cloth for work, started by the organisation, is a unique initiative which is attracting
many unemployed rural youth. "It demands voluntary labour by villagers and in return
for clothes and apparel. It is not charity and keeps a person's dignity intact, since one
is repaid for the service rendered. The success of this concept is inspiring as several
villages have come forward for their development. In Vidharbha, villagers built fences
around their schools and temples, in return for clothes," informed Singh.
Another initiative, School to school collects old books, bags and shoes from the city
and reaches out to students in villages. "Children discard bags and stationary
according to fashion trends. We take this and give then to the needy," says Rohit.
So the next time you think of throwing away your old clothes, think of a person
shivering on a footpath or in a village far away.
India NGO Awards 2007
GOONJ..named as Indian NGO of
The winners of the India NGO Awards 2007
were announced at the awarding ceremony at
ITC Sheraton Saket in New Delhi on 5 March.
There was one winner in each category – small,
medium and large sized organisations – and
one award for the best overall NGO.
The winners are:
o A joint award between The Banyan and Childline India Foundation
o CRY (Child Rights and You)
NGO of the Year 2007
Goonj declared best NGO
Hindustan Times, New Delhi, 10 Mar 2008
GOONJ, a Delhi-based voluntary group, was selected as the NGO of the Year at the annual India
NGO Awards function held in the capital on Saturday evening.
Giving away the awards, Union Finance Minister Mr. P. Chidambaram said the Awards encouraged
the non-profit sector to work towards excellence and enhance their practices in accordance with
the national policy on the voluntary sector.
N.R. Narayanamurthy, CEO and chief mentor, Infosys Technologies, shared the dais with the
finance minister. The three national winners were Goonj in the small category the Banyan and the
Childline Foundation of India tied for medium category and CRY – Child Rights and You in the
large category. They were presented a trophy and a cash prize amount of Rs 4 lakh. Goonj was
presented an additional prize amount of 2 lakh as „NGO of the Year‟. The Awards ceremony was
organised by Resource Alliance and the Nand and JeetKhemka Foundation.
Simon Collings, CEO, Resource Alliance, during the ceremony, added, “India NGO Awards were
launched with the aim of motivating NGOs in India, promoting financial and organisational
stability and strengthening community support of civil society”.
Besides the top three awardees, Dream a Dream, Pragati, Society for Promoting Rationality
(SPRAT), RaigarhAmbikapur Health Association (RAHA), SOS Children‟s Villages of India, Aide and
Action, Bharat Integrated Social Welfare Agency (Biswa), Centre for Environment Education (CEE)
were also appreciated for their work.
2007 India NGO Award Winner Goonj..
2007 Winners Goonj.., from left to right: Shri. N. R. Narayanamurthy, CEO & Chief Mentor,
Infosys Technologies Ltd.; TheHonorable Finance Minister Shri. P. Chidambaram, Mal
Warwick, Chair, The Resource Alliance; Anshu Gupta, Director, Goonj..and the rest of his
New Delhi: Be a part of a mission make change in the life deprives by supplying old, torn, non-
wearable, worn clothes to Goonj, a NGO. It is making best out of waste. You'll be surprised to
find your tattered jeans being refashioned into a school bag, your old T-shirt into ladies' inner
wear and old saris into skipping ropes, and even sanitary napkins.
NGO Goonj (www.goonj.org) has been collecting old clothes from city dwellers and turning them
into useful products for the needy. Goonj, whose volunteers are spread out across 21 states,
also collects old books, newspapers and magazines, copy books, toys and even plastic bottles.
"Several men and women in remote villages have no proper clothing, which is a basic dignity of a
human being," Anushu Gupta, founder of Goonj, told IANS.
Over 100,000 homeless people live on the national capital's streets alone. Of them, at least
40,000 are women who don't have even a shelter to turn to, says Gupta.
The organisation has a force of 300 volunteers that works through a network of over 150
grassroots organisations to provide clothes and other basic amenities to millions in the far-flung
Before the annual floods and the onset of winter, Goonj gets busy - sending out appeals to
people for old clothes, blankets and even medicines that can be used.
Gupta, who has worked among the disaster-hit and poor and needy, speaks of the difficult
situation faced by rural women.
Many of the women die, he says, of infection and diseases due to lack of hygienic pieces of cloth
to use during their menstrual period.
During winters, "hundreds of homeless people die, even in Delhi, during winter. They don't own
blankets", he said
"Goonj not only provides clothing to the poor but turns the trash into usable products and help
the needy. The rubbish given by many is transformed into useful products," Sushil Mishra, a
volunteer of the organisation, told IANS.
Goonj, which began with just 67 pieces of cloth in 1998, today sends out 50 tonnes of cloth
material across the country every month.
"Our demand is simple. We ask people to give any unused material lying in their homes, or
office, which they don't feel like throwing away but don't need any more," said Gupta.
The NGO collects paper that is unused on one side, good quality plastic bottles, and distributes it
to people in rural areas.
Wearable clothes are sent directly to villages, while the worn out ones are washed, ironed and
transformed into quilts and sanitary napkins for village women.
Goonj's movement 'Cloth for Work' has helped many unemployed youth in villages.
"Our movement, Cloth for Work, has encouraged villagers to address their own development
issues. In return for their labour we give them clothes, as motivation not as charity," Mishra said.
As part of such an initiative, residents of a Madhya Pradesh village, Salidhana, dug a well for the
village, and in return they got clothes and ration items.
In Bihar's Madhepura district, residents built a bamboo bridge over a river where earlier 13
children had drowned while crossing the river on their way to school.
The NGO also collects school stationery items, old books, bags and shoes from children
belonging to well-off families in cities and distributes them among needy students in villages.
"So, next time you discard your tattered clothes think of a person who lives in a remote village
and send them to Goonj," says a volunteer.