Anshu Gupta from Goonj
has been declared as Social Entrepreneur of the Year (SEOY) India 2012, by Schwab
Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship, a sister organization of World Economic
Forum, in partnership with Jubilant Bhartia Foundation. The award was conferred
by Chief Minister of Delhi, Sheila Dikshit.

Goonj has demonstrated
that cloth can be a powerful resource for the development of India’s poorest
communities. It channels excess resources lying waste in urban households to
impoverished rural and disaster-prone areas. Materials include clothes,
furniture, electronic equipment and medical supplies. Village and slum
communities, in exchange of cloth and material, conduct self-organized local
development and infrastructure building programmes, leading to more than 500
infrastructure projects every year – such as the setting up of schools,
concrete roads, bridges, wells, irrigation canals and toilets across an
estimated 1,500 villages. 


Sourcing its material
at collection camps in urban neighbourhoods and corporate offices, Goonj delivers
about 1,000 tons of material every year through an extensive network of 500
volunteers, 200 schools, 200 corporate houses and 250 NGO partners across 21
states of India. Goonj’s expansive ‘last mile’ networks have made it one of the
most recognized channels for large-scale disaster rehabilitation in the
country. Its programmes have spurred gradual behaviour change on both the
demand and supply sides: marginal communities have begun to believe in their
own capacity for catalysing change while urban India is learning to contribute
(rather than dispense) material, based on what the poor need. 

Speaking at the awards ceremony, the Chief Minister said, ‘Social
entrepreneurship as a concept has grown over the years from just small entities.
Now we have reached a stage where entrepreneurs who are doing great work in the
society need to be recognised for their efforts, but there are very few avenues
for this. We need more social entrepreneurs to come forward and help those
still in the growing stage and thus help the community at large.’


Hilde Schwab, Co-founder &
Chairperson, Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship, informed, ‘India
continues to be one of our strongest countries in putting forth a large number
of high-quality social enterprises. This is also the first year in which all SEOY
finalists have impact or activities concentrated in remote regions where the
need for healthcare, skills development, and infrastructure remains acute.’ 

The other two
finalists for the award were Sameer Sawarkar and Rajeev Kumar of Neurosynaptic
Communications Pvt Ltd (NCPL) and Vanita Vishwanath of Udyogini. More than 180
applicants had entered the eighth annual SEOY selection process for India.   

The winner of this
year’s India award enters the Schwab Foundation’s global community of 230
social innovators. Social entrepreneurs are defined by their mission to create
substantial social change and promote inclusive growth, developing new products
and service models that benefit underserved communities.


Photo caption: Sheila
Dikshit, Chief Minister, Government of NCT of Delhi, and Anshu Gupta from Goonj