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An agent of change – Asanka Pathiraja

Asanka Pathiraja is an entrepreneur, impact investor, philanthropist, integral member of the Forming Impact community and former corporate attorney with an honours degree from the London School of Economics.

In the early years of his career, a search for a purpose took him to Wall Street where he worked as a corporate attorney. His desire to create impact and inspire people through actions put him on a path to entrepreneurship, impact investing and philanthropy.

Philanthropic activities are an integral part of Asanka’s life; he supports wildlife conservation efforts through Prince William’s charity, Tusk. He even started his charity, the Nishantha Fund, an initiative supporting vital education programmes throughout Sri Lanka – The fund envisions a Sri Lanka where children will learn and prosper together in a peaceful, empathetic and tolerant society that embraces diversity and inclusion.

Shifting gears to live in a post-COVID world, Asanka reminisces about his time in New York, “I was blessed to experience the city for a decade. The opportunities allowed me to grow as a person both personally and professionally. I think about the person who followed that mantra now: take that risk, live your dream, and arrived in New York City with maybe $1,000, they’re 19 years old with incredible skills in music or theatre, they work hard, audition and finally get that big break on Broadway, when it all suddenly shuts down, with no means of income.”

Yes, the present situation is tough but it isn’t all doom and gloom; Asanka is looking forward to better days ahead. His recent experience of the Virgin Galactic launch, witnessing Sir Richard Branson defying all odds with self-belief, perseverance, and willingness to realize a dream, despite herculean obstacles and unfortunate setbacks, was the inspiration he needed to be hopeful for the future. “It was such an impactful lesson about withstanding incredible difficulty.”

Looking in from the outside, Sir Richard’s life looks like a highlight reel of successive victories – an assumption that Asanka addresses, “Sometimes there’s a misperception that things come easily to people, especially when you see people who have continued success, that things are just easier for them. It’s just not true; every stage of life, for every person, has its challenges and circumstances.” he concludes, “It is about staying true to your vision and destination, and sometimes that is the hardest thing to do.”


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