Stefhan Sebastian with his mentee Sampath Ganegala
In 2017, Sysco LABS partnered with the Educate Lanka Foundation (ELF) to launch a mentorship program that serves as a blueprint for structuring career guidance for young people in Sri Lanka. Through the Educate Lanka Mentorship and Skills Development Programme three mentors from Sysco LABS were matched with young mentees chosen by ELF- and the results stand testament to the importance of a structured programme to guide promising youth in Sri Lanka.
Take Supun Muthutantrige and his mentee Solomon Jayasena for example. Supun is a Senior Software Engineer at Sysco LABS while Solomon was a student. Over a period of 10 months and with the help of a structured program developed by ELMP, Supun guided his mentee to become a successful entrepreneur. As a result, Solomon started his own business and has secured key clients from the USA. He says it was a turning point in his life, adding “ELF introduced me to a great mentor and program. It has been so impactful that I try to share my story by visiting as many schools with less privileged students as I can, encouraging them to find mentors of their own.” For his part, Supun says that he has a lot of confidence in Solomon- “The Educate Lanka mentoring program allowed me to work with some of the brightest minds in university. I strongly believe that Solomon will become a very successful entrepreneur in the future.”
They are just two of the participants in the Mentorship and Skills Development Program developed by ELF and Sysco LABS. This unique social-private partnership model is aimed at supporting the incoming generation of professionals beyond financial intervention. The program (ELMP) aims to further empower these students by pairing them with professionals in their chosen industries and taking them through a 10-unit course developing their personal and professional skills.
Pubudu Dodangoda with his mentee Dulip Chandana
Appreciating the efforts of ELF and its program structure, Sampath Ganegala’s mentor Stefhan Sebastian said: “ELMP speaks to the depth and care with which ELF is run. The program was very rewarding for me personally. It provided an opportunity for me to examine my life in a structured way, and to then pass on as much as I could to someone else. It covered areas of knowledge in personal and professional development that is currently unavailable in our national education system. I would highly recommend this program to anyone considering being a mentee or a mentor.”
Pubudu Dodangoda who mentored Dulip Chandana echoed similar sentiments, saying “The program provided the resources and guidelines necessary whilst also giving us the flexibility to bring our own experiences to the mentoring sessions to make the interactions more genuine, authentic, and interesting.”
Speaking on the partnership with Sysco LABS and the success of these three mentors, Manjula Dissanayake, Founding Executive Director of Educate Lanka said, “Our partnership with Sysco LABS has been an ideal example of how social-private partnerships can advance a country’s development by producing educated citizenry and economic actors who embrace their role and responsibility to each other and to the larger society as global citizens. We look forward to continuing to strengthen our partnership with Sysco LABS while joining with other like-minded corporate partners as we strive to unearth Sri Lanka’s fullest potential.”
ELF is a global peer-to-peer micro-scholarship program, which matches sponsors with socio-economically disadvantaged youth in Sri Lanka, enabling them to complete their higher education. Initially established to prevent student dropouts, Educate Lanka empowers disadvantaged youth by increasing access to education, mentorship, employment opportunities and providing them with essential tools and skills. To date, Educate Lanka has sponsored over 4,500 years of education of 1,200 students through nearly Rs. 70 million in micro-scholarships while over 500 of them have completed their higher education and gained employment.
Supun Muthutantrige with his mentee Solomon Jayasena
To learn more about the program and the association behind it, contact Dhanu Amarasinghe, Country Director, ELF Sri Lanka at firstname.lastname@example.org and/or Seevali Ratnakara, Manager, ELF Mentorship Program at email@example.com.