Impact Hero 2019 – The Finalists!

Earth Company’s call for Impact Hero 2019 received applications from
56 changemakers from all across the Asia Pacific.
From the 56 applicants, five were selected as finalists.
We will be announcing the winner early next year, but for now,
you can read a little about our finalists – each with inspiring stories, innovative ideas and great potential – below.

Who applied?

We received applications from changemakers active across 15 different countries in the Asia Pacific, with the greatest concentration in India and Indonesia, and 20% of applicants taking a global approach. This year, the ratio between men and women applicants was more or less balanced (59-41). Most applicants are in their 30s, comprising 39% of the entire batch, while 23% are in their 40s and 20% in their 50s. We were excited to receive passionate applications from both ends of the spectrum too: 7 young changemakers in their 20s or younger and 3 in their 60s!

Tackling SDGs

While all 17 SDGs are represented through applicants’ work, the majority focus on alleviating poverty, improving education, and nurturing good health and well-being. There is also a strong focus on decent work and economic growth, as well as sustainable cities and communities.

The majority of candidates run their organizations on an annual budget of more than 100,000 USD.

At the bottom of this page is an INFOGRAPHIC that provides some insight into our applicants. But first, here is a little more on our five finalists, their life stories, and how they are devoting their lives to fighting social issues in their respective geographies (listed in alphabetical order).

Our Impact Hero 2019 will be chosen from these five finalists and announced in January 2019. Watch this space!




Full Name: Ego Lemos
Country: Timor-Leste
Age: 46
Field of work: Food Sovereignty
Organization/Position: Founder of Permaculture Timor-Leste (PERMATIL)
MissionTo realise a sustainable economy, strong society, ecology and culture to guarantee the sustainable use of our natural resources.

Ego’s Story:

Seeing environmental degradation and over dependence on food import, Ego was inspired to transform Timor-Leste’s agriculture and leverage its rich natural resources. Ego led a campaign from 1996 to 1999 to promote organic agriculture in Timor-Leste. A year after his campaign, he started a permaculture organization called PERMATIL that works to teach permaculture gardening and reviving traditional knowledge and systems in community and youth groups, ultimately leading to self-sustainability, food sovereignty, rehabilitation efforts, and the conservation and protection of natural resources. The organization successfully convinced the government to include permaculture and agroecology in primary school curriculums, thus establishing permaculture gardens in schools nationwide. Since then, 149 school gardens have been grown and over 20 natural springs have been rehabilitated. Ego’s biggest challenge however, is the ability to provide sufficient funds for all schools, as the government is unable to do so.

In addition to building his organization, Ego worked as a lecturer at the Timor-Leste National University, an advisor for the Ministry of Education in Timor-Leste on curriculum development and permaculture school gardens, and co-authored the Tropical Permaculture Guidebook, an influential publication on the subject matter.


Full Name: Garvita Gulhati
Country: India
Age: 19
Field of work: Water Scarcity
Organization/Position: Founder of Why Waste?
MissionTo change people’s mindset towards natural resources, specifically water. Optimise usage, prevent wastage.

Garvita’s Story:

Garvita has been an environmentalist since she was 13 years old. She has led initiatives in schools and colleges across India to inspire and equip youth to become changemakers. The most prominent of her initiatives being Why Waste? That engages primarily with restaurants to optimise their water usage systems. Their goal is to change the mindsets and habits of people towards natural resources. Garvita hopes to make restaurants more empathetic, leading them to de-trivialize water waste. Why Waste? has successfully reached over 500 restaurants across India, Oman, the United States, and the United Kingdom. Through her work with Changemakers Society and Ashoka’s LeadYoung program, Garvita was able to engage with over 40,000 youth internationally.


Full Name: Mona Lisa Karene
Country: Samoa
Age: 56
Field of work: Agriculture, lack of access to market
Organization/Position: Co-founder/ Executive Director of Marketing and Production Development of Nora’s Plantation Foods Limited
Mission: To operate a sustainable income-generating export business to benefit the economy and people of rural Samoa.

Lisa’s Story:

Lisa left Samoa at the age of 12 to study overseas. Recognizing that many Samoans do not have the same opportunity she was presented as a kid, she wanted to help the underprivileged in her community. Remote Samoan villages rely mainly on farming but can’t reach markets to sell what they grow, leading them to a vicious cycle of poverty, hopelessness, and despair. To help these villages, Lisa brought the market to the farmers, driven to give locals their self-worth back. “Inner confidence builds better, sustainable futures.” Lisa’s organization’s impact model gives farmers access to the market by buying their crops and offering employment through its value-add manufacturing process for export products.


Full Name: Sasiranga De Silva
Country: Sri Lanka
Age: 32
Field of work: Environment
Organization/Position: Director/ Chief Engineer at ThermalR Industries Pvt Ltd, Collaboration with University of Moratuwa
MissionTo realise a sustainable future by reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Asia’s transportation sector.

Sasiranga’s Story:

Born and raised in a tropical country, over the years Sasiranga noticed rapid variations in temperature with unusually warm seasons in Sri Lanka. The authorities have noted that the rice cultivating seasons have shifted and diseases caused by air pollution have increased, particularly inland, where emissions concentrate. These observations drove Sasiranga to study climate change in depth whilst studying at university, and motivated him to do his part as an engineer to ensure a healthier and sustainable future is left for generations to come.

It was during his work with General Motors that Sasiranga was doing research on electric batteries. That’s when he came up with the idea of electrifying tuk-tuks, three-wheelers found in many Asian countries. Sasiranga now manufactures electrical conversion kits to transform gasoline-powered vehicles into electrically powered tuk-tuks. He estimates that converting tuk-tuks to run on electricity will reduce each unit’s CO2 emissions by 65%. This is a huge number especially considering there are one million tuk-tuks in operation in Sri Lanka alone! Estimations also demonstrate that tuk-tuk drivers would save $1200 annually by switching to electric tuk-tuks, thus improving their lives.


Full Name: Wai Wai Nu
Country: Myanmar
Age: 32
Field of work: Education, Women Empowerment, Human Rights Advocacy
Organization/Position: Founder and Director of Women Peace Network
Mission: Building peace, justice and social equality through empower, education and advocacy.

Wai Wai’s Story:

Being sentenced to jail for opposing one of the world’s most brutal military regimes in Myanmar, Wai Wai met many women in prison that were victims of poverty, coercion, or both. This motivated Wai Wai to start her own organization, once freed. Wai Wai works on uniting divided ethnic and religious groups in the country through her organization. Women Peace Network runs a youth center with classes ranging from English language, social science, advocacy, to leadership training. A typical class consists of 14-20 students, mostly in their twenties. Classes range in duration; some run for a weekend, ten days, or even for a full month. Women Peace Network has been able to produce young leaders who dedicate their time to social activities and building trust and peace among their communities, thus building solidarity among the minority segments in Myanmar.

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