Astra Diriya Wanitha: A programme to empower women 

Astra launched “Astra Diriya Wanitha”, a programme which aims to equip women to start their baking businesses, on 16 February at a launch event at the Cinnamon Grand Colombo.
Since their initiation in 1966, Astra has been a household brand with a legacy of contributing to the awareness and improvement of child nutrition. The Astra Diriya Wanitha programme is another step in Astra’s commitment to raising a healthy, active, and empowered future generation of leaders and achievers.

This programme, launched in collaboration with the Samurdhi programme, will empower mothers to start their baking businesses as part of the company’s social mission. Special guests at the event included MP Jagath Kumara, Association of Samurdhi officers, Agricultural Research Offices General Secretary and Upfield Sri Lanka Head of Business and Customer Development Director Anuruddha Aluvihare, Upfield Sri Lanka Senior Country Financial Controller Krishan Fernando, and White Flower Academy Owner and Founder Chef Dushanthi Madanayake, among others. 

Astra Public Relations Executive Dinali Ruhunuhewa shared that this programme would be a great way for women to earn a side income while at home. Their collaboration with the Samurdhi programme will give way for them to identify women who need support and have the passion to initiate and continue successful home baking businesses. 

The initiative will recognise women across Sri Lanka’s 25 districts and provide them with the training, knowledge, and equipment needed to start their baking businesses. Their end goal is to improve the livelihoods of these women and support them to become self-sufficient.

Astra believes 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. The Astra Diriya Wanitha campaign in Sri Lanka is part of that commitment as they expect the ripple effect of this initiative to empower women to be able to give more nutritious foods and better education to their children, making our kids, the next generation, healthier and happier.

Ruhunuhewa explained that 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 elevating the living standards of 14,000 families across the country. This will enable the women to give better education and more nutritious food to their children to make them healthy 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.

With the onset of the pandemic triggering a number of daunting challenges in society, families with children continue to endure economic hardship due to a loss of income. In such a day and age, this initiative by Astra will aid mothers to start their own businesses and earn an additional income. Through this, they hope to combine the decades-long connection of Astra with baking to help mothers in Sri Lanka find financial stability and support for their kids and family during these trying times.