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Dilmah Founder Merrill J. Fernando honoured by FCCISL for a lifetime of achievement

2015-01-30

Dilmah Founder Merrill J. Fernando honoured by FCCISL for a lifetime of achievement

Dilmah Partner Network News
In recognition of a lifetime of perseverance and achievements, Dilmah Founder Merrill J. Fernando was honoured by the Federation of Chambers of Commerce & Industry in Sri Lanka (FCCISL) with a Recognition of Excellence Award- Hall of Fame on 29th of January 2015. It was a memorable moment for all business professionals of the country as this is the first time that this honour has been bestowed in the history of FCCSL.

Chief Guest Australian High Commissioner, Robyn Mudie, was joined by Minister of Power and Energy, Champika Ranawaka and Ajith Wattuhewa, President FCCISL.   The achievements and courage that -the Teamaker,' Merrill J. Fernando displayed as well as his dedication to promoting his DILMAH globally was commended. The Dilmah Founder received a standing ovation from the several hundred assembled business persons in recognition of his achievement.

On receiving the award he commented, 'I was pleased to receive the FCCISL's Award, tempered though by my dislike for my recognition and fame which I do not deserve.  My success with Dilmah is the wonderful image of Ceylon Tea enjoyed throughout the world.  The consumer perception of Ceylon Tea is amazing. I merely took Ceylon Tea to consumers against the colonial culture that still grips our tea trade. The greatest lesson I learnt in my success with Dilmah is to share that success with the poor and the wider community.  This aspect of my business success reminds me of Sir Winston Churchill's aphorism You make a living by what you get; you make a life by what you give.'

The uniqueness of the Dilmah Founder Merrill J. Fernando's story lies in his success in breaking the accepted mould at a time when native Ceylonese were encouraged to restrict themselves to being raw material producers. He saw the unfairness of the colonial economic model and crystallised a vision in the 1950s, to tea that is grown, handpicked, made in the traditional, artisanal manner and packed and branded garden fresh at source, supplied direct to tea drinkers around the world. That thought was met at the time- in the 1950s- with a combination of mirth and ridicule- which Merrill J. Fernando overcame through his unrelenting grit and persistence.

His ability to recognize the possibilities within tea, his eventual success- after 38 years of effort- in launching his Dilmah brand, established the first genuinely ethical tea, bring a fair share of the earnings from tea to the producer. In this way the tea grower of humble origins in a developing country succeeded, in spite of the odds he faced. His achievement is intended to inspire and encourage producers around the world, that quality, ethics and devotion can bring success, to benefit the poor, and consumer equally.
   
FCCISL - Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry Sri Lanka (FCCISL) includes over 60 Chambers of Commerce and business association, representing more than 12,500 businesses in Sri Lanka.