Bunker Roy

Founder-Director of Barefoot College - Social Work and Research Center


Bunker Roy is the Founder-Director of the Barefoot College (www.barefootcollege.org) based in the village of Tilonia in Rajasthan India. Started 40 years ago, it is the only college built by the poor for the poor and managed by the poor who earn less than $1 a day. The college follows the work style and lifestyle of Mahatma Gandhi. Living conditions are simple, austere and down to earth, there are no written contracts and no one can receive more than $100 a month as wages.

Since 1972 more than 20 Barefoot Colleges have started in over 13 Indian states. The Barefoot approach of training rural semi-literate middle-aged women to solar electrify their own villages has been replicated in nearly 25 of the Least Developed Countries around the world including Afghanistan, Timbuktu (Mali), Siberia (Russia), Bhutan and Namibia. 

Bunker Roy is also Founder-Chairman of the Global Rain Water Harvesting Collective (www.globalrainwaterharvesting.org), based in India, which focusses on collecting rainwater from the roofs of remote rural schools. More than 100 million litres have been collected in over 1,000 schools all over the world.

His work has earned him many awards and honours, such as the AGFUND Award for promoting Volunteerism, from HRH Talal Bin Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia, in Geneva, Switzerland (2001); the Schwab Foundation Award for Outstanding Social Entrepreneurs, World Economic Forum i(2002); The Ashden Award for Sustainable Energy, UK, (2003); the Skoll Foundation (2005); the US$ 1 million ALCAN Award for Sustainability (2006); the Sierra Club Environment Award (2009) and the Conde Nast Environmental Award, USA (2009).

Bunker Roy was identified as one of the 50 environmentalists in the world who could save the planet (The Guardian, January 2008) and as one of the 100 most influential people in the world (Time magazine, April 2010).