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Social Change Champion: Desh Amila

A product of immigration, integration, and innovation, Sri Lankan born, Desh Amila, started from humble beginnings before realising his dream was in the West, and migrated to Melbourne, Australia in 2000. Desh has since pioneered his career as an entrepreneur, entertainer, and educator on a global scale.

Integrity, commitment and social responsibility have always been at the core of Desh’s values, which has opened the door to an abundance of senior management opportunities early on in my career. From his position as COO at online publication Stash Magazine, to founding Australia’s first YouTube festival with international game-changers in the viral video sphere, to his role as CEO of Planet Urban/Greystone Ent Pty Ltd, where he created and managed Australia’s largest urban infotainment portal, Desh is living proof that maintaining a mind-over-matter mentality is the silver bullet to success.

We sat down with Desh to find out more about what he’s up to and what drives him to make an impact.

What is your social enterprise elevator pitch?

This year, I launched a not-for-profit – This Is 42. This is 42 is an amalgam of innovation, optimism, and humour, celebrating intelligence in all its diversity by holding events that explore new horizons in fields such as art, science, design, sports, and music. The high calibre speakers leave audiences smarter, sharper, and more inspired than when they walked in. This is 42 connects through tech, and educates through events. We are also set to launch a digital platform that connects our audiences into an inspired and idea-driven community.

What are your biggest personal and/or professional challenges as a social entrepreneur in Australia?

After graduating from Melbourne’s Deakin University with a Bachelor of Arts (Media Arts: Screen Studies and Photography) in 2005, I soon realised that this was merely a first step into a world of many successes, many more uncertainties, painful growths and profound realisations.

With a desire to inspire, I am on a mission to educate, entertain and enhance the lives of those I connect with. At no point has my career been a simple, single entity – it has always been multifaceted and ever-evolving. From rubbing shoulders with celebrity innovators, to a gradual transition from entertainment to education, before finally bringing the two together, my career and life story track the journey from consumer, to communicator, to creator.

Over this time, there are three challenges I’ve had to overcome, and in my work I see these three as frequent challenges for my colleagues, clients and customers as well: the ongoing demonisation of immigrants, the lack of access to start-up capital and a shortage of qualified and credible mentors.

What’s the best piece of advice you have received so far since starting your own social enterprise?

Stick to the plan.

If you were to start over, is there anything you would do differently?

I’d probably set up a better corporate structure.

The Social Change Central changemaker community is growing at a fast rate. How can our members learn more about you and help support your organisation (e.g. are you looking for funding, PR, marketing support, volunteers, interns)?

We are always looking for PR experts, marketing support and interns. If you’re interested in getting involved, shoot an email to

And finally, what would you do if you found a lottery ticket that ended up winning $10 million?

Find it’s rightful owner and give it to them.

Are you a Social Change Champion? Want to be interviewed? Join as a Gold Member.

Jay Boolkin
Jay Boolkin

I'm passionate about positive social change and the power of social entrepreneurship to tackle some of the world’s biggest problems. I believe that for-purpose business models can become part of the mainstream and I am enthusiastic about advocating for business models that are genuinely built around a social or environmental mission.

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