Sri City, November 2, 2019: …Anshu Gupta, founder of Goonj and winner of the Magsaysay Award in 2015 visited the Krea University campus on Saturday, November 2, 2019.
He shared his experiences with the students and faculty at Krea University. He spoke about his journey with Goonj, the cloth for works exchange programme, urban to rural re-use and recycling and the development challenges that the country faces.
Goonj partners with grassroots organizations in 21 states across India to deliver second-hand clothes and other used household materials to people in need. But the organization also invites the people it serves to engage in its efforts. Goonj’s “Clothes for Work” program, for example, helps communities help themselves by offering goods in exchange for labor on projects like local road repair. The approach frees up workers’ other income for food, healthcare, or other expenses.
Anshu Gupta spoke of people dying in the severe winters of North India, due to lack of adequate clothing and even though many people get killed, cold has never been considered a disaster. He said it was critical for those who engage in social activities to go to the root cause of the problem and find solutions based on the wisdom of local people living in communities. Exchanging community labour for essential materials just as a “parallel currency” could be an innovative way of bringing about a change for the better. He also shared information about other initiatives that Goonj has taken up, like the construction of a bridge, digging wells in drought areas, cleaning canals, removing plastic waste from the backwaters of Kerala, and usage of sanitary napkins etc.
According to Anshu Gupta, even “the biggest problem can have the smallest possible solution which comes from the local know-how.”
Anshu Gupta has a degree in mass communication and a Masters in Economics. He began his career as a freelance journalist. An Ashoka and Schwab Fellow for entrepreneurship, he left a corporate communication job in 1998 and initiated Goonj.