Unilever Sri Lanka contributes to changing lives of rural women

Tuesday, 23 November 2010 00:31 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Grants scholarships worth Rs. 2.5 million to children of Saubhagya entrepreneurs

Unilever Sri Lanka will hold its annual Saubhagya Scholarship Awards today (Tuesday), to grant scholarships worth Rs. 2.5 million under Unilever’s Saubhagya initiative.

These scholarships are awarded to the children of Saubhagya entrepreneurs who are either Year 5 scholarship winners, Grade 10 O’ Level high performers, university entrants or have excelled in sports and aesthetics.

Project Saubhagya is an innovative partnership between Unilever Sri Lanka and the Samurdhi Authority of Sri Lanka. This initiative trains rural women to become entrepreneurs by creating micro-enterprises that provide them with a sustainable source of income by recommending and selling Unilever brands to households in their villages. This enables Saubhagya entrepreneurs to act as direct-to-home ambassadors for Unilever brands.

This initiative has changed the lives of over 3000 women who have become Saubhagya entrepreneurs, giving them enhanced self-esteem, empowerment and a much greater say in decision-making within their homes and community.

This has consequently resulted in better health, hygiene and nutrition, more focus on the education of their children and an overall improvement in living standards. Furthermore, family members of Saubhagya entrepreneurs have the opportunity to vie for employment in Unilever’s distribution chain.

Lalith is one such 56-year-old Saubhagya entrepreneur who has benefited greatly through this initiative. “I’m thankful to Unilever Sri Lanka for helping our rural community not only through doing business but also helping us by build our society, by providing us facilities such as tube wells etc. Because of Unilever, I could fly to India on a pilgrimage. As a Buddhist, it was a dream come true!” says Lalitha, highlighting the diverse ways in which Saubhagya has helped improve her life.

Mother of five and Saubhagya entrepreneur since 2006, Chandralatha adds, “I’m thankful to Unilever for lending me a hand by granting my daughter a scholarship to join the university. They provide me books and stationary to help out my five children every day.”

Speaking about this project, the Chairman of Unilever Sri Lanka, Mr. Amal Cabraal said, “Unilever believes in doing well by doing good. Our Saubhagya initiative is a great example of this philosophy in practice. By providing Sri Lanka’s rural women the opportunity to become entrepreneurs, we are helping people to help themselves and work towards a better life for them and their families. Saubhagya is a classic example of a self sustaining partnership between Unilever and the community we serve.”

Project Saubhagya began in March 2004. Prospective entrepreneurs were selected with the help of the Samurdhi Authority. Today Saubhagya operates in 170 Samurdhi societies and has helped 3,000 women change their destiny.