To empower disadvantaged communities to take charge of their own development so that they are socially and economically self-reliant.
We believe that when it comes to sustainable development, local communities know best. They know what they would like to change in their communities and understand the challenges they face. Our role is not simply to “teach them how to fish” but to help them organise and take action on their own development priorities.
To support 100 communities across Malawi and Sri Lanka to have the freedom and capacity to transcend poverty by 2020.
We partner with disadvantaged communities for up to 5 years
Our work is focused on ensuring that communities are more socially and economically self-reliant by the end of this partnership. So that when we leave, our partner communities are better able to manage their own development projects and start new ones. This is an inspiring journey that we make together in solidarity.
Here’s how we make this happen
Vision Workshops & Action Plans
Community members are trained on engaging their wider community in an ongoing conversation about local development. These workshops end with development priorities and a 6-12 month action plan.
We provide communities with interest-free loans to kick start their initiatives e.g. funding the startup of a community bank.
We help communities access technology providers that may be relevant to their development goals e.g. access to solar energy or irrigation systems.
Our local staff and partners provide training and support to help communities improve their ability to manage their own projects e.g. business training, establishment of cooperatives and sustainable agricultural practices.
Our Founder and Executive Director Shanil Samarakoon spent much of his early childhood in Botswana and Malawi and was connected with rural life in Southern Africa from a very young age.
However, it was only in the tragic aftermath of the 2004 Tsunami in his native Sri Lanka that he discovered a profound sense of purpose. A business undergraduate at the time, he began to question how he was contributing to the world as the extent of his privilege and fortune became abundantly clear to him.
This journey took him across many remote regions of Sri Lanka as it reeled from the devastation of the Tsunami and a 30 year civil war. Working across several relief and development projects, he was deeply touched by the courage and determination of people who had endured incredible hardship and pain. It was in the midst of these profound experiences that he made the decision to pursue a life of contribution, one in service to addressing the deep social, economic and environmental challenges that constrain a vast majority of the world’s population.
Thereon as he pursued his postgraduate education in Australia, he considered how he could draw upon his passion and experience to build upon his capacity to contribute. It was in late 2009 that James, Shyamika and Shanil discussed their personal visions and started to sow the seeds for Empower Inc as it stands today. Their collective dream and values have shaped the organisation’s distinct values and approach. As of 2015, the organisation reaches over 15,000 people in Malawi and Sri Lanka.
We subscribe to the ethics of permaculture, a design science for sustainability.
People Care - A commitment to equality, enabling self-reliance, valuing community, and the power of collaboration.
Earth Care - Acknowledging that we are part of the environment and that we bear responsibility towards nurturing the systems that sustain us.
Fair Share – A commitment to sharing knowledge, networks and surpluses.