Talking to MBA students at IFMR Graduate School of Business, Krea University, distinguished Indian social entrepreneur Anshu Gupta, founder of Goonj; a Delhi based NGO, appealed to the future business leaders to take care of the ‘dignity’ of the humankind during any social development initiative. The transactional process often seen as an act of charity tends to otherwise overlook the self-respect of those receiving it.
Popularly known as the “Clothing Man”, Anshu Gupta, was conferred with “Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award” by Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship in 2012 and has also won the Ramon Magsaysay Award in 2015. He holds a Master’s degree in Economics, a double major in Journalism & Mass Communications and is an Ashoka fellow.
During his meet, he highlighted some basic needs of people among which one essential need in the development agenda, was providing ‘clothing’. The idea of ‘Work for Cloth’ came to him in Delhi once when he interacted with a person who collects dead bodies of homeless or unidentified humans and found that a man died just due to lack of proper clothing during the Delhi winters. And that was when Gupta realised that clothing as a basic human right was often overlooked. Lack of clothes in the winter was responsible for more deaths than natural calamities like flood, earthquakes, etc.
He quit his corporate job to start Goonj, with only 67 pieces of clothing that his wife and he had collected. The NGO is spanned across 25 states now, with a workforce of more than 1000 employees.
In his speech, he mentioned that the lack of availability of the resources was not an issue as much as the resource allocations were. His hard-hitting statements and questions like “How often do we realise while distributing sweets in the temple, that someone outside dies of hunger“, made the student community ponder deep and delve into broader perspectives of social development initiatives.
As Anshu shared various other initiatives by Goonj from addressing water crisis by building and cleaning of water facilities to lack of access to sanitary pads for rural women and providing them with sanitation and hygiene facilities, he spoke about how he had built the genesis of a parallel trash- based economy between efforts of rural communities and urban surplus material as two new currencies.
The thought-provoking session had ample inputs for the cohorts to think in a broader horizon on societal development and about adopting more effective ways and means towards reaching out for a cause with an objective of development of society as a whole or address what the ailing population need.