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Case Code: LDEN129
Case Length: 18 Pages 
Period: 2017    
Pub Date: 2018
Teaching Note: Available
Price: Rs.500
Organization : Small
Industry : Social Enterprise
Countries : India
Case Studies  
Business Strategy
Human Resource Management
IT and Systems
Leadership & Entrepreneurship

Anshu Gupta- Goonj: Spearheading Social, Economic, and Environmental Impact in an Innovative, Sustainable, and Replicable Way



This case focuses on Anshu Gupta (Anshu) and his venture Goonj. Anshu, a post graduate in Economics and Journalism, was working with the corporate communications department of a large manufacturing company in India. In 1997, while working in New Delhi, capital of India, Anshu came across a rickshaw (three-wheeled passenger cart pulled by somebody), on which was written “For unclaimed dead bodies.” Interacting with the rickshaw puller, Anshu came to know that a large number of people died in Delhi due to the severe winters. He realized that most of the people died due to the unavailability of warm clothing. Shaken, Anshu immediately donated his surplus clothes to pavement dwellers in Delhi. It was this incident that prompted Anshu to start Goonj, which collected used clothing from urban households and distributed them to the homeless and in the rural parts of the country. As Goonj’s activities expanded, it collected any material that was usable but was not being used by households. Those that were in good condition were donated and those that could not be reused were recycled. Anshu partnered with several grassroots organizations to spread the activities of Goonj. These organizations worked closely with the people and made a list of things they needed and sent it to Goonj. Goonj then sent the required material to the organization for distribution to the people.

Anshu believed that charity should not strip those receiving it of their dignity. This led to a program by Goonj called ‘Cloth for Work’ where the villagers worked toward the betterment of their community, in return, earning clothes for the entire family. This resulted in better villages and happy villagers who could spend the meager funds they had on constructive activities as the problem of clothes and other requirements were taken care of by Goonj.

Goonj then went on to start other programs. Under a program called ‘Not a Piece of Cloth’, low cost sanitary napkins were provided to women in villages who could not afford commercial napkins. These were made of recycled cloth. S2S was an initiative under which children from urban schools shared their school material with their rural counterparts. Goonj played a major role in disaster relief and rehabilitation across the country during floods, earthquakes, and other such disasters. It concentrated specifically on areas that were prone to severe winters to supply kits containing warm clothing and other needs for winter. Goonj created employment opportunities for women from poor communities and trained them in different income generating activities like stitching, making quilts, knitting, etc. From discarded and non-usable material, these women made several useful things like bags, ropes, purses, mobile phone pouches, files, etc., which were sold under the label ‘Green by Goonj’.

As the activities of Goonj grew, several volunteers joined Anshu and the organization received donations from various individuals. It got widespread recognition from several international agencies like the Ashoka Foundation, the Schwab Foundation, the Ramon Magsaysay foundation, NASA, Deutsche Bank, etc.

Goonj made a difference to the lives of scores of people across the country. By freeing up the meager resources of households, it helped the people put the money to productive use. It provided employment to several women and made an impact on improving the fabric of society through collective development work in the villages. Indirectly, its activities made a huge impact on the environment with tons of material that would have ended up in landfills being recycled and reused. But Anshu was of the view that much more needed to be done. Also, there were several locations to which Goonj had not reached out to as yet. As Goonj embarked on a path of growth, Anshu faced challenges like maintaining the ethos of the organization, controlling the operational costs as it reached the hinterlands, and, most importantly, coming up with a business model that could sustain the organization, taking the concept of charity with dignity ahead.

Leadership and Entrepreneurship Case Studies | Case Study in Management, Operations, Strategies, Business Environment, Case Studies
Leadership and Entrepreneurship Case Studies | Case Study in Management, Operations, Strategies, Business Environment, Case Studies
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The case is structured to achieve the following teaching objectives:
  • Appraise the thought process, ideation, approach, and modus operandi of a social entrepreneur.
  • Evaluate and appraise the differences and commonalties between social entrepreneurs and business entrepreneurs.
  • Understand the characteristics and struggles of an entrepreneur
  • Illustrate various stages of development of a social entrepreneur


Goonj,Anshu Gupta,Social Entrepreneurship,Social Entrepreneur value chain,Social enterprise,Social value proposition,Stages of development of social entrepreneur,Social sector,Social entrepreneur model,Social business model,Social enterprise spectrum