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About Us

Our Vision

We envisage a world in which marginalised communities have access to the necessary skills, resources, and opportunities to achieve their vision for self-reliance.

Our purpose is to create platforms for communities to determine their developmental priorities, create their own vision for change, and develop sustainable solutions.

Our Mission

We enable underserved communities to realise their collective potential across a 5 year partnership. We do this by:

  • Establishing and scaling cooperative models to address development challenges.
  • Supporting local schools to be sustainability hubs for the wider community.

Our Values

We subscribe to the ethics of permaculture, a design science for sustainability.

  • People Care: Dignity, respect, and the power of community.
  • Earth Care:  Development approaches that care for ecosystems.
  • Fair Share:  A commitment to inclusion, equity and knowledge sharing.

Our Story

Empower Projects is a registered, tax-deductible nonprofit organisation that was established in Sydney, Australia in 2009. Empower Projects draws upon the values and experience of our Directors, Shyamika Peeligama, James Feng, Sam Stark and Shanil Samarakoon. We wanted to support projects that reflected local development priorities and were led by our partner communities. This is what started us on the journey of exploring how we could bring such projects to life in Malawi and Sri Lanka – where we have rich personal heritage, networks and experience.

We are deeply committed to supporting projects that are based on a positive vision for change that is put forward by communities themselves. Projects that bring out are underpinned by the knowledge, skills and available resources of local communities. Projects that community members can feel proud of and have the confidence to sustain into the future.

Our co-founder Shanil Samarakoon’s TEDx about our work in Malawi.

Our operations in Australia are volunteer-run and our board has a rich range of skills and experience in international development, human rights, governance, social enterprise and business. Our sister organisation, “Empower Malawi” was established in 2012. This is in line with our commitment to ensure that our projects are championed by a localboard and members of local staff that have extensive experience and a strong understanding of the local language, culture and context. At present, our operations in Sri Lanka are managed through local partner organisations. Simmilar to our approach in Malawi, our hope is to establish a local sister organsiation in the time to come.

Our Team

Jones Ntaukira

Director (Empower Malawi)

A founding Director of Empower Malawi, Jones is a passionate social entrepreneur with degrees in both environmental science and business. Jones served as Executive Director of Empower Malawi from 2012-2019.  Under his leadership, Empower Malawi has gone from being a small startup NGO, to an internationally respected organisation with projects across six districts of Malawi. While he mains on the board of directors, his full-time role is with Empower Malawi’s sister organisation, Zuwa Energy.

Dr Shanil Samarakoon

Co-Founder and Executive Director of Empower Projects

Shanil is a social entrepreneur residing in Sydney, Australia. He grew up across Malawi, Botswana and Sri Lanka. He has 15 years of experience in international development projects and is an academic at the University of New South Wales.

Runil Patel

Director of Finance (Empower Malawi)

Runil is a Director (Finance) of Empower Malawi. He is a Civil Engineer (University of Houston-Texas) with extensive business experience. 10 years of experience managing retail operations and distribution having initiated and managed the Mapanga Group’s importation of LG Electronics into Malawi. Runil runs ARK Construction, an innovative construction firm based in Lilongwe.

Easha Ranasinghe

Director (Governance) and Country Director (Sri Lanka)

Easha has a strong passion for projects that enable grassroots development. She has 20+ years of experience in financial services, having worked in Botswana, Sri Lanka, England and Australia. She also has rich board experience in Australian not for profit organisations, which gives her keen insight into best practice in terms of overall governance and financial management.

James Feng

Director (Finance)

James is a Founding Director of Empower Projects. He runs his own law practice , is a keen investor, and is passionate about furthering social impact. James is our Director (Finance).

Bright Msuku

Bright is our Project Coordinator (Permaculture) at Empower Malawi. He has extensive experience in community development, and plays a criticla role in managing our project portfolio in Malawi. He is a trained permaculture specialist and as such, his primary focus is on promoting permaculture practices across our school projects. Bright is often on the road, visiting partner communities and working alongside our field staff and partner organisations to make awesome things happen!

Tax Deductible in Australia

Tax Deductible in Australia