Aug 07, Colombo: UNDP in Sri Lanka and Citi Foundation, through its flagship entrepreneurship initiative - Youth Co: Lab Technopreneurship for Social Change Program - recently conducted a program for persons with disabilities at The Employers' Federation of Ceylon.
Youth Co-Lab, co-created in 2017 by UNDP and the Citi Foundation, aims to establish a common agenda for countries in the Asia-Pacific region to empower and invest in youth through leadership, social innovation and entrepreneurship.
In Sri Lanka, the Youth Co:Lab program supported by Cisco Networking Academy, which is currently in its third year, uses innovative e-learning modules to connect young people, which make up over 4.4 million of Sri Lanka's population, with up to date learning material to improve their digitization capabilities in contributing to the economy.
Through tailor made sessions conducted at 20 locations across Sri Lanka targeting over 1000 young people a year through the National Youth Services Council, the program aims to encourage entrepreneurship amongst young people by providing them with the necessary leadership, financial literacy and entrepreneurial skills.
Going a step further on the premise of leaving no one behind, a tailor-made program was conducted for 14 persons with disabilities in Colombo. Delivered through sign language interpretation and in other accessible formats, the program is the first of many sessions to be held this year to enhance the entrepreneurial skills of those who otherwise do not have access to such trainings in Sri Lanka.
Speaking about this, Ms. Manique Gunaratne, Manager, Specialized Training and Disability Resource Center of The Employers' Federation of Ceylon stated "This is a great opportunity - giving persons with disabilities an opportunity to be exposed to entrepreneurship and gain some entrepreneur skills. Inclusion is very important especially to change mindsets from sympathy to empathy, dependence to independence, hidden to open, segregation to integration, exclusion to inclusion, to create a disability friendly environment."
Also speaking about the program, Shanaka Waduge, Head of Corporate Affairs of Citi Sri Lanka stated, "People with disabilities and their families often have to make critical and complex financial decisions almost on a daily basis. Citi's partnership in such specific programs aims to leverage their role in society. We aspire to help improve their knowledge on financial literacy so they can engage in meaningful employment and help take Sri Lanka towards a progressive nation."
Pushing the inclusivity agenda forward, Kasunjith Satanarachchi from UNDP Sri Lanka stated, "As a person with disability I am pleased to see UNDP Sri Lanka taking steps to ensure inclusivity and leave-no-one-behind. As such I'm very excited to be a part of this program which was conducted for the first time for the PWDs."(UNDP Media Release)