Anshu Gupta

Ashoka Fellow
,
Fellow Since 2004
GOONJ

Citation

This profile was prepared when Anshu K. Gupta was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2004.
The New Idea
Anshu realized that the vast stocks of everyday necessities—from clothes to medicines—lying as idle surplus in the homes of the rich can be converted into a substantial economic resource for the country if channeled efficiently to the rural poor. His organization, GOONJ, is building a nationwide movement to encourage and manage a massive transfer of used clothes, household goods, and other essential items from one population to the other. Anshu’s approach is designed to transform waste materials that reduce cash expenditure in low-income households and result in a small but critical expansion of their spending power. On the demand side, Anshu ensures that GOONJ precisely matches the needs of poor communities, through detailed market surveys that carefully analyze the different region-specific lifestyle patterns to gather data pertaining to gender ratio, dress and food habits, cooking practices etc.

On the supply side, Anshu focuses on transforming donor attitudes about reusable resources lying unused in their homes and the huge impact these resources can have on a poor family. Transparency and accountability are built into GOONJ’s system and donors have a clear picture of why and whom they are transacting with. The whole process of donation is geared to cultivate conscious giving, not thoughtless dumping.

GOONJ minimizes its operational costs by keeping its core staff small and leveraging a 300-plus rapidly expanding volunteer network. Anshu also realized that a single organization cannot reach the national distribution scale he aspires to so GOONJ works in a nodal capacity within a growing network of over one hundred partner grassroots organizations, social activists, units of the Indian army, and other Ashoka Fellows who are working directly with some of the most marginalized communities located in isolated regions.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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