Empowering the younger generation, Unilever Sri Lanka recently inducted its 10th batch of Unilever ‘SPARKS’ student Ambassadors, welcoming 26 passionate undergraduates from 10 different universities into its impactful and sought-after student ambassadorship programme. The SPARKS programme seeks to cultivate the leadership skills and innovative spirit of Sri Lankan undergraduates, encouraging them to become positive influencers among their peers. This is a voluntary student ambassadorship programme in which selected undergraduates from various universities are appointed to be ambassadors of Unilever in their respective institutions for a period of 1 year. The programme was launched in 2014 by Unilever Sri Lanka and was subsequently adopted by Unilever entities across the world.
Hajar Alafifi, Chairperson and Managing Director, Unilever Sri Lanka said, “We are looking forward to working with the selected talented youth in this year’s SPARKS programme. The program is a testament to our commitment towards empowering local youth. This year-long programme serves as an ambassadorship, with students acting as liaison between Unilever Sri Lanka and their respective university. The programme is designed to allow students to exhibit their strength as leaders in their institution. The program is highly sought after among undergraduates, with a remarkable 55% of SPARKS ambassadors transitioning to internships or permanent roles within Unilever in recent years. Celebrating its 10th year, this annual endeavor reflects Unilever’s sustainable approach to making a lasting positive impact on the nation’s youth, preparing them to be ‘future fit.’’
The SPARKS program significantly enhances the employability of participating students, offering them a fast track into potential careers at Unilever. Through collaborative projects with Unilever, the volunteer program not only develops employability skills and provides industry exposure to the undergraduates, but also delivers projects in their respective universities in collaboration with Unilever. The 10th batch of 26 SPARKS ambassadors were selected from 10 universities, namely, University of Kelaniya, NIBM, APIIT, University of Colombo, IIT, University of Ruhuna, NSBM, University of Moratuwa, University of Peradeniya, University of Sri Jayewardenepura, and the Kotelawala Defence Academy.
Kavindi Gunawardena, University of Colombo said, “The SPARKS programme has provided us with invaluable real world exposure and given us the confidence to build relationships with seasoned industry professionals and like-minded students. This will help us to expand our professional network even before entering the workforce. I am proud to have been selected for this programme and to have had this golden opportunity to collaborate with a reputed private sector company this early in my career.”
Throughout the extensive year-long program, the undergraduates engage in immersive learning experiences, including the facilitation of the Youth Forum, visits to factories and markets, discovery of purpose, and the development of personal brands, among a myriad of other enriching learning activities. A highlight of the SPARKS program is the Youth Forum, one of Sri Lanka’s largest youth conferences, entirely led by SPARKS student ambassadors with support from the Employer Branding team of Unilever Sri Lanka.
Since its inception in 1938, Unilever Sri Lanka has established itself as one of the largest fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) companies in Sri Lanka. Over the past 85 years, Unilever has been deeply rooted in Sri Lankan society, curating a landscape that preserves and nurtures the true Sri Lankan way of life. In addition to its impactful initiatives such as the Unilever SPARKS student Ambassador program, Unilever Sri Lanka has been actively involved in enhancing the employability of Sri Lankan youth by equipping them with future-fit skills. Unilever’s dedication to youth empowerment is exemplified by its current youth commitment, aiming to empower 100,000 Sri Lankan youth by 2025. This commitment underscores Unilever’s role as a catalyst for positive change, ensuring that the youth are equipped with the skills and knowledge necessary to thrive in the dynamic landscape of the future. As Unilever continues to set industry standards and contribute to societal development, its unwavering focus on uplifting and empowering the youth remains a cornerstone of its long-standing legacy in Sri Lanka.