In a bid to empower women and especially mothers across Sri Lanka, Astra, an iconic food brand in the country, has launched the Astra Diriya Wanitha Programme, in collaboration with the Samurdhi programme. The initiative, which aims to equip women to start their baking businesses was announced today at a launch event at the Cinnamon Grand in Colombo.
In partnership with the Samurdhi Programme, Astra will identify women across the 25 districts of the country and provide them with the training, knowledge, and equipment needed to start their baking businesses. The goal being to improve their livelihoods and support them to become self-sufficient.
Astra launched the programme at a formal event today at Cinnamon Grand, Colombo. Special guests at the event included Hon. Jagath Kumara – MP, General Secretary of the Association of Samurdhi Officers and Agricultural Research Offices, Head of Business and Customer Development Director of Upfield Sri Lanka, Anuruddha Aluvihare, Senior Country Controller of Upfield Sri Lanka, Krishan Fernando, Owner and Founder of White Flower Academy, Chef Dushanthi Madanayake among others.
Speaking at the launch, Anuruddha Aluvihare, Customer Development Director Upfield said: “We believe that every child deserves the opportunity to get the nutrition they need to grow, develop, and reach their full potential at school and later in life. Through our breakfast brands, Upfield has committed to making a nutritious breakfast an everyday reality for 100 million children by 2025. The Astra Diriya Wanitha Campaign in Sri Lanka is part of that commitment as we expect the ripple effect of this initiative will be to empower women to be able to give more nutritious foods and a better education to their children, making our kids, the next generation, healthier and happier.”
The Astra Home Bakers Programme will include comprehensive training on all aspects of cake making. Astra’s mission is to empower at least one woman from each village division in the country, thereby elavating the living standards of 14,000 families across the country. This will enable her to give better education and more nutritious foods to her children to make them healthily and happy. Previously, Astra has delivered similar initiatives in Colombo and Kurunegala. The current initiative will be at a larger scale, involving many more beneficiaries and stakeholders.
Commenting on the initiative, MP, Jagath Kumara noted “The onset of the pandemic triggered a number of daunting challenges in the society. Families with children continue to endure economic hardship due to a loss of income. In this context, Astra’s initiative to help mothers start their own businesses and earn an additional income is especially commendable. I want to encourage more corporate organizations to take the initiative like Upfield has done to create such projects in partnership with the Government.”
Astra has been a household brand since 1966 and has a proud legacy of contributing to the awareness and improvement of child nutrition, a key brand ethos that has been sustained for decades. The ‘Astra Diriya Wanitha Programme’ is another step in Astra’s involvement in raising a healthy, active, and empowered next generation of leaders and achievers.
Shedding more light on the initiative, Marketing Manager for Upfield Sri Lanka, Shehani Liyanage, commented: “Since its inception in 1966, Astra has been advocating the importance of a nutritious breakfast for children and families through a range of products that makes good nutrition accessible to all. The Covid-19 pandemic has created a new set of challenges for mothers, one of which is financial stability. Through this initiative, we hope to combine the decades long connection of Astra with baking with helping mothers in Sri Lanka find financial stability and support for their kids and family during these trying times. Our collaboration with the Samurdhi Programme allows us to identify women who need support and have the passion to initiate and continue successful home baking businesses.”
Astra is a flagship food brand with a rich history of 40 years in the industry. Fortified with micronutrients for the growth and development of kids, the brand is known and trusted by generation of mothers as the nutritious choice for growing healthy and happy children.