Shanil Samarakoon, a recent graduate of the Australian School of Business, has been named Social Entrepreneur of the Year for his innovative work in Africa.

Shanil, 26, received the award from the School for Social Entrepreneurs last week for a sustainable development project he is setting up in rural villages across Malawi.

The project is managed by Shanil's start-up social enterprise Empower, which he founded in 2008 while completing his Master of Commerce degree.

"Empower works in partnership with communities to put their ideas into action, removing previous capital and technology constraints. The microfinance aspect of the project allows people to mobilise their assets and abilities to help themselves," says Shanil.

"As well as encouraging individuals to innovate, the projects empower communities by giving them sustainable technologies that provide affordable access to energy, water and agriculture."

To help fund Empower Malawi, Shanil is seeking to raise $30,000 by early 2011. Donations can be directed here.

Read the full story in the latest issue of Knowledge@Australian School of Business.

Media contact: Marie Kelly | 0408 256 381